Young people all around the world are working to build a regenerative future. At 14, Genesis Butler is one of those people. She is an unstoppable voice for the voiceless, and her leadership has carried these voices around the world, from the TEDx stage to the Vatican. She speaks for animals and the environment, knowing that protecting one means taking care of the other.
Regenerative Futures: How are you feeling right now?
Genesis Butler: I’m feeling optimistic because I know we will be able to reverse the damage we have done to this planet. There are enough people who care who will make this happen. I am also optimistic because I don’t want to live my teen years feeling sad and worried about the future. I want to be optimistic and focus on making this world a better place.
RF: What’s a secret your search history can tell us about you?
GB: My search history will tell you that I am into self care because I’ve been researching ways I can implement self-care to make sure I don’t get burned out as an activist. I’ve been looking up meditation videos, books on self-care, and tips on how to relax. Self-care is so important as an activist because I started when I was 6 so I’ve been an activist more than half of my life. I need to make sure I can continue to focus on activism and the only way to do this is to not get burned out.
RF: What are you reading/learning about at the moment?
GB: I go to a social justice high school and I am reading a book called The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. We are reading this book to learn more about the experiences Native Americans have in the US.
RF: Who is your favorite human and why?
GB: I was inspired to become an animal rights activist after I went vegan and wanted to do more for the animals then just not eat them. I was inspired to become a climate and environmental activist a few years after becoming an animal rights activist after I learned how industrial animal agriculture is one of the causes of climate change and also how animal ag pollutes the planet.
RF: What does success mean to you?
GB: Success means doing what you love and being happy about it.
RF: If you could focus a large percentage of government funding on one industry or project for the next five to ten years, which would you choose and why?
GB: I would choose the agricultural industry and fund the creation of a plant based food system. As of now, billions of dollars goes into the animal agricultural industry in the US so I would like to shift this funding to a food system that is sustainable. A plant based food system is currently not funded like it should be so I would change this.
RF: What are the best and the worst things about the education system in your country?
GB: The best thing about the education system in my country is schools are starting to talk more about the current climate crisis. The school system also is mindful that we are going through a pandemic so they aren’t putting pressure on us and are trying to make online schooling stress free. The worst thing is the education system is still not talking about industrial animal agriculture as a cause of climate change. This is important but if students don’t get this information, they won’t know the food they are eating is a problem for the environment. Another problem is the education system does not feed students plant based meals. They still serve meat and dairy for every meal. Students should have a plant based option but this isn’t the case.
RF: Do you have a message for anyone your age living in the year 2040?
GB: My message would be to not be afraid to speak up for what you believe in. You are never too young to make a difference and to get people to care. Don’t be afraid of what other people will think of you for speaking up. Your voice matters.
RF: What inspires or frightens you most about the future?
GB:What inspires me is the fact I believe we will have a future because youth from all over the world are speaking up and are really doing what they can to ensure we have a future on this planet.
RF: What is one story that represents or tells Regeneration to you and why? This can be a song, a book, a film, a folk tale, a personal story, etc. Anything.
GB: Regeneration is the Native American proverb: “We don’t inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children”. Regeneration is ensuring that we are leaving this planet a better place for future generations to come.