Project Homeleaf to host Presidio’s first climate summit

PRESIDIO — Next Friday, Presidio’s Project Homeleaf will host the city’s first climate summit, an evening of educational speakers and food, fun and drink for all. Everyone in the community is welcome to attend talks by local and national experts in environmental science. 

Project Homeleaf is an organization of local teenagers hoping to secure a greener future for their hometown. So far, the students have planted trees across the city, revived a dormant rock planter project downtown, and bargained with City Hall to save the recycling center. They’re hoping the summit will be an opportunity to educate their friends and neighbors about some of the bigger ideas behind their mission. 

Ramon Rodriguez Aranda, the organization’s founder, curated the list of speakers to provide some perspective. “It’s really interesting, because they’re going to cover how climate change affects us locally, which I think is really important,” he said. “It’ll make the issue a lot more captivating to people here in Presidio.” 

So far, the list of speakers includes the Big Bend Conservation Alliance’s local liaison Elvira Hermosillo and Krysta Demere, an Alpine-based wildlife diversity biologist for Texas Parks and Wildlife. Dr. Alex Mayer of UT-El Paso will give a presentation on how climate change affects the Rio Grande. 

Aranda was inspired to organize the event by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, where top scientists meet with world leaders of the United Nations to discuss how their governments should respond to environmental crises. Presidio’s summit won’t be on quite the same scale, but the goal is the same. “A lot of times they have youth speakers go and speak to world leaders and try to tell them what they can do as people in power,” he explained. “But it’s also just about educating people, letting them know what’s going on. Awareness is a key term in all of this.”

Big Buddha Bakery will be on the premises to provide snacks, and Alpine’s Desert Mountain Growers will sell a selection of plants to the community and their guests. Project Homeleaf will also have a tree available as part of a raffle attendees can purchase tickets for. The proceeds will go to support the students’ organization, which they hope to see grow as they become seniors in high school. 

Currently, Project Homeleaf is working on a mural project with funding from the Presidio Municipal Development District to spruce up the recycling center. To expand that program in a more practical way, they’ve also ordered recycling bins to be placed around town. The facility is currently open Tuesdays and Thursdays, 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., but the bins — decked out in Blue Devil blue — will allow Presidio residents to recycle closer to home, whenever is convenient. 

The Homeleaf kids hope the youth of other Big Bend communities will take note and start their own green movements. “We would love to help make Project Homeleaf clubs in other towns that share our objectives,” Aranda said. 

Presidio’s Earth Week Climate Summit will kick off Friday, April 22 at 6 p.m. at the Presidio Activities Center. Folks not able to make it in person are encouraged to attend via Zoom. The speakers will broadcast to the following link: 

Meeting ID: 849 0982 5065

Passcode: YGa9yh