Wednesday 22nd April

| BY Paul Toner

Ten’s Teen Activists: On World Earth Day, We Bring you Meg Campbell

You can tell a lot about a person by what’s plastered on their bedroom wall, what sits on their bedside table or even by what they leave lying around on their floor. For a teenager, their bedroom is an extension of who they are – or who they want to be. Often with a ‘Keep Out’ or ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign scribbled on their door, teens can lock themselves away from the outside world within their own personal sanctuary, where their every need is catered for. For Issue 64, we commissioned the photographer Jermaine Francis to explore these mini universes. The inspiration was Adrienne Salinger’s ‘In My Room’, a seminal photo book from 1995 that journeyed though a selection of teen bedrooms in upstate New York. Salinger found her subjects in shopping malls and restaurants, as well as through friends, resulting in a perfectly imperfect chorus of adolescent youth to photograph in their as-yet-uncharted territories. The only rule in place before Salinger’s arrival was that the teens were not to tidy their rooms, no matter how messy they were.

Comparing then to now, the sentiment remains that no two of these personal palaces look-alike, although for today’s teens, bedrooms are no longer dedicated to their favourite boyband member or celebrity crush. All over the country, the function of a teenager’s bedroom has evolved. Within their four walls, the modern-day teen is able to plot how they will make tomorrow brighter, both for themselves and the marginalised groups that surround them. From the climate-change warriors and LGBTQI+ activists, through to young migrants battling for their right to belong, teenagers simply can no longer wait for the government to assuage their fears for the future. In celebration of such titans, we trekked up and down the country to the bedrooms of 10 teens who are taking matters into their own hands. On World Earth Day, we present Meg Campbell from London. 

Meg Campbell isn’t one to procrastinate. Our Earth is dying and there’s no time to sit around, twiddling her thumbs. “Basically I spend loads of time talking to amazing people about all the deeply rooted problems in society and how we can challenge them,” she says. A climate-change activist and regular protestor at Extinction Rebellion marches around the capital, Campbell is stopping at nothing until we have reached “environmental justice”, she says. In between family photos on her bedroom wall, just above her incredible book collection, is a postcard plastered with the words “Rebel For Life”.

“I’ve got a seat outside my window and love sitting up there. Otherwise, my books are my favourite things in my room,” she says. Campbell is a climate-change warrior, a force to be reckoned with. Alongside her fellow teen climate-change activists, she is fighting for a brighter future for herself and the generations that will come after her. Thanks to teens like Meg, the possibility of a better tomorrow is all that more promising.

When did you first feel like you were an activist?

“Probably when activism began getting in the way of other parts of my life! Before that it was just being political and going to protests. So I guess this past March is when I started to get more fully involved.”

What pushes you to keep on campaigning for your cause?

“Hearing stories from people suffering on the front lines, and also the more I learn, the more angry and empowered I get!”

Do you make your bed every morning?

“Nope, I’m pretty messy! Sometimes my dad makes it because he doesn’t like mess and he’s very kind.”

What can young people do to make the world a better place?

“Question the way things are. Try to learn the things we aren’t taught in school. Also, stand up for yourself!”

What do you want to see change about the world in 2020?

“More community. People get so angry and divided, but if we work together we can work for everyone.”

Which fellow activists inspire you and why?

“I’ll be cheesy and say everyone inspires me in different ways, but the thing I find most amazing is the people who are giving and kind rather than being fuelled by anger.”

What activism work are you most proud of?

“Probably when I speak to someone and make them see something a different way. I’m proud of how much I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone, and the next step of that is that I’m planning to run a project in my school, probably about reclaiming space, alternative education and the climate crisis!”

What’s the most comfortable pair of shoes to protest in?

“Any shoes that you can walk around in for a long time, and something waterproof! Bonus if you can climb in them.”

Portrait by Jermaine Francis. Taken from Issue 64 – BEST, FOOT, FORWARD – which is on newsstands now.

@xr_youth