Hailing from St. Paul, Minnesota, Adri Arquin is Fresh Energy’s new Summer Fellow and is diving into environmental justice work in our Energy Access and Equity team. Adri just finished his first year at Stanford University and is excited to harness what he’s learned and apply it to make sure that new climate and energy funds in Minnesota can advance environmental justice and economic equity for disadvantaged and underserved communities.
Adri has long been involved in environmental justice work in Minnesota. He served as a youth member on Saint Paul’s Climate Justice Advisory Board (CJAB), alongside Fresh Energy’s director of culture and partnerships, Janiece Watts, which advises the mayor and City Council on how to better incorporate environmental justice in its climate policies and programs.
When he was an eighth grader at Central High School in Saint Paul, Adri was a delegate to COP23, the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany. As he listened to Pacific Islanders talk about their lived experience on the frontline of the climate crisis, he became interested in the intersection of climate and environmental justice. When he returned home to Minnesota, he knew he had to act.
He joined the Minnesota Youth Council in high school, which advises the Governor, state agencies, and the Minnesota Legislature on the positions and priorities of young people in Minnesota. Adri worked on legislation like the Solar on Schools bill and helped advance climate justice policies. He also worked alongside other young activists and organizers to create Minnesota Youth for Climate Justice, which helped to bring thousands of young people to the Minnesota State Capitol to fight against the climate crisis.
While he enjoys learning about policy, he is also interested in advocacy and outreach, teaching students about climate and environmental justice to help them connect local issues they experience to bigger, systemic problems, too.
He has also interned with the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy (MCEA) doing environmental justice work and with the Frontline Communities Protection Coalition and COPAL MN. At Stanford, Adri is involved in Fossil Free Stanford, the college’s divestment campaign, as well as the Cardinal Policy Group, where Adri provided policy research on carbon taxes and credits for the Washington State Environmental Council. Now he’s back in his hometown for the summer and ready to apply what he’s learned from school.
“It’s been valuable to take this time to be reflective: what have I learned after a year of college, and how can I apply it to my work here? How can I harness my passion for this work to create the most impact, and how can that guide me in the future?” asks Adri. “Those are long-term questions, but they’ve been a guiding force for how I see my experience in college and the real world interact.”
When he’s not rolling up his sleeves and diving headfirst into environmental justice work, Adri likes thrifting and enjoying Minnesota’s great outdoors. He and his friends have a seriously-large spreadsheet of the best thrift stores in the area, and he’s always had a passion for running—lately along the trails by the Mississippi River.
He’s found camping and hiking to be a terrific way to disconnect from work, as well as helping to meet new friends and foster new connections, whether that’s here in Minnesota or out west at Stanford. As for the different topography of California, Adri is taking full advantage of that, too: he made time this past year to learn how to surf, and he’s looking forward to a few hiking permits he scored for Yosemite National Park this fall.