Glenbrook’s Monkey Rebels: fighting for 15-minute cities
The Monkey Rebels are a social justice club at École Glenbrook Middle School: a group of students who care deeply about connecting community and making the world around them just a little bit better. And are they ever making a name for themselves!
Above and beyond their commitment to supporting their peers, battling inequality and discrimination, and generally doing good around their school on a regular basis, they’ve stepped forward in New Westminster as really great environmental advocates, with a very clear idea of the kind of city they want to live in: one that’s healthier and more sustainable.
Inspired after attending a Climate Action forum – and learning about the connection of population growth, urban planning and congestion – the group of students started delving into how they could make a difference here in New Westminster. They started by looking at what sorts of projects were happening in other parts of the world. And the one idea that really caught their attention was the 15-minute city concept.
What is a 15-minute city? Essentially, it’s a city that’s designed to ensure that everything you would typically need to live is within a 15 minute walk or bike ride from your home … like grocery stores, places to work, access to health care or education, leisure spaces, etc. This model of urban planning is designed to help reduce people’s reliance on cars, by increasing the ability to live healthier, more walkable or bikeable, and more sustainable lives.
The students got excited. So they dove into the research and started to strategize!
With the support and encouragement of their teacher sponsor, Angela Jurgensen, school and district staff, and guidance from City counsellors Nadine Nakagawa and Tasha Henderson, and environmentalists Jennifer Nathan and Karen Crosby, the students worked on a motion. Within it, they proposed that city integrate the 15-minute city mindset into its urban planning, as students called on council to increase green spaces, improve sidewalks, add more bike racks and more.
After a warm-up lap of presenting their work to the Board of Education, they took their motion to City Council on June 12th … successfully getting it passed and supported by the City of New Westminster!
Their hard work and dedication has not gone unrewarded. In fact, they have taken home second place in the national “Our Canada Project” … in the “Empowering Youth for Climate Action 2023” category!
But these kids can’t stop / won’t stop.
The Monkey Rebels are calling on activists to help make this a 15-minute country! They’ve built a toolkit for other interested groups who want to get motions passed in their cities! You can find their “Blueprint for Change” here: https://www.monkeyrebel.ca/15-minute-city.html
You can hear more about these amazing students and their hope and work, right from the source! Check out this video they’ve created to help inspire others here: