by Katie Rueff
BAYLI, the Bay Area Youth Lobbying Initiative, aims to galvanise students into getting involved in democracy by bridging the divide between activists and elected officials and by creating long-term change in the climate and environmental policies that will affect our generation.
The organisation began in December 2020 when Saman de Silva, a current senior at Gunn High School, sought a solution to mitigate the disparity between youth and politics within the Bay Area. Since its founding, over 50 members have joined from across the Bay Area––giving the organisation a uniquely powerful perspective on the climate crisis.
Despite the challenges of working digitally and growing a following as an upstart youth organization, the BAYLI team has already hosted three events: a lobbying workshop with the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, a forum with California state senators Josh Becker and Dave Cortese, and a forum with representatives from the offices of California Assemblymember Ash Kalra, Assemyblymember Alex Lee, and Senator Josh Becker. Aside from planning events, BAYLI staff members also research policy, run social media, lead recruitment, and maintain communication with legislators. In the coming year, the staff hopes to establish lobbying teams and expand its membership. Over the past year, BAYLI has come to understand that the more members one has on their team, the greater the impact they can make. Thus, if you’re a high school student in the Bay Area, no matter your experience with environmentalism or policy, please don’t hesitate to visit the “get involved” section of BAYLI’s website and join a growing coalition of youth climate activists: baylibayarea.wixsite.com/bayarea.
Katie Rueff is a junior at Gunn High School in Palo Alto (California, USA) and the Outreach Director at BAYLI. Outside of her involvement with BAYLI, she is the Vice President of Gunn’s Green Team and an active advocate for sustainability in her community. In her free time, she enjoys watching documentaries narrated by Sir David Attenborough.