Xiuhtezcatl Martinez’s father raised him in the Aztec tradition. From an early age he learned that throwing a water bottle in a river will impact your community, those downstream and eventually have a global impact. He is fighting for people to think twice about how they interact with the world.
At 14, Xiuhtezcatl is the youth director of Earth Guardians, a non-profit environmental organization that is committed to protecting the water, air, Earth and atmosphere. To reach young people, Xiuhtezcatl and his younger brother Itzcuauhtli started an eco-hip-hop duo in the namesake of their non-profit, “Earth Guardians.”
“The earth has been here long before us, and it will continue to be here long after we’ve been wiped out”, said Xiuhtezcatl. “The biggest challenge we face is shifting human consciousness, not saving the planet. The planet doesn’t need saving. We do.”
Xiuhtezcatl has spoken twice at major United Nation’s forums. President Obama awarded him the Youth Change Maker of the Year Award and he is a member of the Presidential Youth Council to advise the president on youth views and policy.
You can find him in Showtime’s “Year of Living Dangerously” series, and HBO produced a music video for his song “Be The Change.”
Xiuhtezcatl summer schedule includes an Arctic expedition with National Geographic to study glacial recession and a meeting with the former prime minister of the Netherlands.
He is mobilizing youth in 25 countries to demand greener policies from our world’s leaders. He was able to convince the city of Boulder to remove pesticides from its parks, institute a fee for plastic bags and contain coal ash. He is also working to ban fracking in his home state, which includes lawsuits against the state of Colorado.
Xiuhtezcatl and his army of teenagers are pushing for policy change around the world. He believes that just because kids can’t vote does not mean they can’t make a difference in the world.
Establishing a sense of civic engagement in pre-voters breeds empowerment. If kids behind the Earth Guardian movement can push massive change before the legal voting age of 18, imagine the possibilities for society at large.
Alhough Xiuhtezcatl hasn’t even begun to think about college, the future of his grandchildren is in the forefront of his mind.