By Samantha Bishop October 12, 2018

I first joined Defend Our Future as someone who knew very little about our political system. A typical millennial, I was guilty of tuning out the news and political affairs because it all just seemed so negative and frankly, depressing. However, as a born and raised Phoenician and a student of sustainability, I figured it was time for me to get involved in some way to protect what I find to be the most important.

Though my younger self might have dreamed of moving away from blistering Arizona summers, I have come to love and appreciate the desert I call home for its unique beauty and the blessing of never having to shovel snow. I worry though that we will soon have no water to drink, that our air quality will become unlivable, and that temperatures will become increasingly lethal. If now is not the time to do something, then when is?

I pledge to vote for candidates who prioritize environmental health and fight climate change to protect my beloved city. I vote with climate in mind because environmental health is public health and our well-being deserves to be fought for. I used to think that my vote didn’t matter, that my voice wouldn’t be heard since I am only one of many. I realize now that by not voting I was sitting on the sidelines of important conversations, and by not adding my support and voice with others, our collective voice was being quieted. My generation is the most likely to care about climate issues and yet we are the most likely to skip voting. I vote because I want to raise the volume.

Getting involved doesn’t mean that you have to watch the news twenty-four hours a day or follow every scandal. It doesn’t mean that you have to start picketing events and arguing with everyone who feels differently than you do. It just means taking the time to educate yourself and ask questions. Learn who your local officials are and what they stand for. So please, in the next month, do a little bit of research, exercise your freedom, and #VoteClimate!

Samantha Bishop is a senior at Arizona State University.