Posts Tagged ‘leaders’

Photo: Rebecca Rosman/The World.
Alexandre de Fages de Latour and his son, Raphael, are pictured near the Seine in Paris, where they fish out treasures — and junk. Raphael aims to have a clean river before the Olympics come to Paris.

I am really into kids who lead the way: kids and young adults who lead the fight against US gun violence, for example, or fossil fuels. In fact, yesterday when I saw that kids had written wise messages from the environmental nonprofit Sunrise Movement on sidewalks all over town, I went online and made a donation. At this moment in time, it just seems to me that young leaders are more likely to get things done than their elders.

Rebecca Rosman reports at Public Radio International’s the World about a Parisian kid focused on protecting the Seine.

“Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has set a goal of making the Seine swimmable by 2024 when her city will host the Olympic Games. If she succeeds, it will be the first time that bathing in the Seine is legal in over 100 years. To do that, though, the city will have to significantly reduce the levels of toxic bacteria that flow through the river. [Moreover] around 360 tons of plastic are found in the Seine every year.

“Lucky for Hidalgo, 11-year-old Raphael is on the case. For nearly two years now, the scrappy middle schooler has spent nearly every weekend with his dad, fishing debris out of the 450-mile stretch of water.

“ ‘It’s not unusual for us to catch an entire ton in a single day,’ Raphael’s dad, Alexandre de Fages de Latour said. …

‘I always knew there were things at the bottom of the water, but not to the point of scooters and bicycles,’ Raphael said. His biggest find: a 360-pound Yamaha motorcycle that took an entire team to pull out.

“Then, there are the more unusual objects, including a digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera, jewelry and even a 19th-century bayonet. Those treasures are stored at a makeshift museum located in his dad’s basement and are also shared on his Instagram account @raf_sur_seine where he now has more than 20,000 subscribers.

“It all started, however, at around Christmas 2019 when Raphael saw a YouTube tutorial from someone doing something similar. So, Raphael asked his parents for several meters of rope, a hook and a powerful magnet that could attract metal objects weighing more than a ton. …

“ ‘At first, it was just meant to be a leisurely weekend activity,’ Raphael said. ‘But once I saw just how much debris there was buried at the bottom of the river, it became like a full-time job … and I wanted other people to know, too.’ Last October, Raphael was even awarded the Medal of Paris for his efforts. …

“ ‘There’s more than 7 billion people on Earth … so, there’s definitely enough of us to clean up and save the planet,’ Raphael said. ‘But when it comes to taking action, hardly anyone does. Even something as simple as picking up cigarette butts from the ground and placing them in the trash could make a huge difference.’ …

“While he’s not sure if he can make the entire Seine glisten by the 2024 Olympics, he hopes to be one of the first to swim in the water once it’s declared safe.”

More at the World, here.

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