Pamela Elizarrarás Acitores, BFA Product Design ’20, still remembers the day she “was swimming in the ocean in Mexico and noticed more plastic than fish.” When she arrived at Parsons and began studying issues involving social justice and environmental
waste, it struck her that hers is the first generation that has grown up at a time when the effects of climate change were becoming dramatically evident.
“Parsons helped wake me up,” Elizarrarás Acitores says.
So did New York City. Outside the classroom, Elizarrarás Acitores discovered a committed community of young climate activists—many still in high school—fighting for a better future. She wondered why they weren’t getting more media attention.
“Kids were striking every Friday, and no one seemed to care,” says Elizarrarás Acitores. So she began showing up with her camera at their protests at the UN or City Hall. She was becoming a climate activist herself.
She was also gravitating toward photojournalism, her minor at Parsons. Each semester, she would travel to Mexico and Bolivia to assist the Argentinian photographer Sebastian Suki Belaustegui as he photographed Indigenous people. Upon graduation, Elizarrarás
Acitores enrolled in a master’s program in photojournalism at the London College of Communication.
“The pandemic had just hit, and London was paralyzed,” says Elizarrarás Acitores. That was when she was given the opportunity to project-manage an awareness campaign for the UN Climate Conference (COP26). She also spent three weeks documenting young climate
activists from 18 countries over Zoom, something she could never have done in person. Her portrait series was exhibited at COP26 in Glasgow and viewed by world leaders.
Elizarrarás Acitores’ activities inspired her to co-found Latinas for Climate. She believes designers and photographers are well suited to turning ideas into action. “It’s like creating a mood board,” she says. “If you can imagine it, you can do it.”