Brower Youth Awards

Lia Harel

Minnetonka, MN

Organizing a youth environmental movement in Minnesota

Lia Harel is an 18 year old from Minnetonka, Minnesota, who is one of the founders and main organizers behind Minnesota Can’t Wait, a youth-led movement pushing for bold climate action in the state of Minnesota.

Lia became an organizer in the climate movement three years ago when she began to understand how the climate crisis impacts every aspect of society including the economy, public health, food security, safety, and quality of life. Fueled by this frustration, she joined with other passionate youth activists in the summer of 2018 to demand her state play a leading role in the adoption of just climate policies. Together, they formed the movement known as Minnesota Can’t Wait, named for the impatience the youth feel regarding the need for solutions that meet the scope and scale of the crisis. 

Over the next few months, the youth brought other young people, organizers, faith leaders, Indigenous communities, business people, and politicians to stand together on three main points: 1) no more fossil fuel infrastructure development in the state, 2) regulate statewide greenhouse gasses, and 3) support the Minnesota Green New Deal Bill. They organized rallies at the state Capitol, led a march, testified in Committee hearings, published op-eds, and helped write the framework for the Minnesota Green New Deal Bill. 

Lia is an organizer in this movement because she hopes to shift the conversation in Minnesotan communities and set a stronger expectation for the state to pass climate legislation for a just and sustainable economy.