Jackson Hinkle is a 17 year-old environmental activist who goes to San Clemente High School. He is the founder and current president of Team Zissou, an environmental club that has popped up in schools in California, Hawaii, Washington, and Canada. Jackson is leading a campaign in his town called “Plastic Free SC,” which promotes the usage of reusable water bottles. He has organized, led, and spoke at protests and rallies regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline, climate change, and other environmental issues.
Jackson was chosen to be a Youth Delegate at the Washington Youth Summit on the Environment this coming summer in Washington D.C. In the future, he hopes to serve on the Youth Council of the Earth Guardians & RYSE as well as represent the United States as a Youth Delegate in the COP 23 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Bonn, Germany. Jackson enjoys making art, creating music, surfing, and hiking.
What inspired you to organize a protest against DAPL?
Jackson Hinkle: There are a variety of basic human rights that I believe our government is violating by building the Dakota Access Pipeline and I wanted to show people that we would not let this happen without a fight. We cannot allow our own elected officials to continue to threaten the quality of our water and air through the construction of oil pipelines, hydraulic fracturing, surface mining, and mountaintop removal mining.
I also felt it was necessary to stand up for the people of the Sioux Nation who are being targeted by our government. The pipeline was originally proposed to go through a primarily wealthy, Caucasian town, yet when it was met with great opposition in the community, the route was immediately changed to go through the land of the Sioux.
If we ever want to truly stand as a united nation, we need to ensure the rights of all people, and accept the burdens that come along with the privileges we hold as citizens of the United States of America. Protests are important right now for young people to organize and participate in because they serve as a sign of a change of tides. The progressive movement that is currently unfolding is being led by a group of fired up and educated individuals who will most definitely solve large problems in their lives. I’m proud to be a part of this movement because we’re focused on educating others about the issues at hand, rather than alienating the uninformed.
What steps did you take to organize the protest?
JH: I’ve found that social media and gaining good connections are the main tools to organizing any protest. Before organizing the event, I wasn’t very “in tune” with Facebook, but it really was a great way of reaching out to a bunch of people. I run a big environmental club called Team Zissou at my high school, and we have spread to four other high schools across the nation in just one year. I first created a rad flyer to promote the march, and then I had all of the Team Zissou Instagram accounts post about it. Then a bunch of people reposted that same flyer on their personal Instagram and Snapchat accounts. I also emailed it out to local environmental leaders as well as made an event on Facebook for the march that I posted to the San Clemente Living, Occupy Orange County, and San Clemente Green Facebook pages. The last thing I did was send the flyer by direct message to Instagram accounts such as @NoDAPL which have around 10,000 followers. Not every big account or person will be willing to share your event, but you are more than likely to have at least a couple people that will repost it, thus opening the event up to thousands of new people.
What drew you to be a Water Ambassador for The Ecology Center? How does your experience as a Water Ambassador shape your organizing work?
JH: Anything to improve conservation of important resources and help combat climate change is something I’m very interested and am willing to completely invest myself in. After reading up on The Water Effect, it became clear to me that it was an organization that was going to make a positive change in the world. Living in Southern California, the drought we are currently in the midst of has become all too apparent and I believe it’s our duty to take the steps to conserve the water that we have.
How can we continue to fight against DAPL and support water conservation?
JH: The best way we can continue to fight against the DAPL and support water conservation is through educating the public. With Team Zissou and The Water Effect, that seems to be our main goals. We can’t afford to alienate people who might not “agree” with us, or who might not “understand” what we do. Even though it might seem like second nature for people like you and me to do our best to conserve water, it is most definitely not the same for everyone else so we need to educate the masses. When it comes to educating people on subjects such as the DAPL and water conservation, we can’t assume that they truly know the extent of the issues so we need to be as informative and helpful as possible. When people are properly informed on issues such as these, they have no other choice but to take a stand and make a difference.