By CLARK MASON
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Pauline Allen has a passion for environmental activism that’s manifested in a number of ways.
She’s president of Analy High’s Students for Sustainability Club, she is taking an ecological action class in school, and she is trying to get the school district to include a reading list with environmental themes.
The 16-year-old, an 11th grade Sebastopol honors student, does restoration work on the nearby Laguna de Santa Rosa. She helped get recycle bins at school to collect food scraps that are composted for use in the school garden. And she commutes to school on her bicycle.
“It’s my form of transportation around town,” Pauline said. “Biking is great. You don’t have to worry about buying gas and polluting, all those problems. It’s good exercise at the same time.”
She likes to encourage more of her fellow students to ride their bikes, too.
Susan Swanson, her honors English teacher, describes Pauline as “a maverick, very independent,” who “always has the world’s best interests at heart.”
“She can be hard-headed, which can be to her advantage. She can get things done. She doesn’t take ‘no’ for an answer,” Swanson said.
Pauline is working to get school district approval for an environmental literature curriculum, though it can be a frustratingly slow process, according to Swanson.
The proposal, which will be heard Wednesday by the West Sonoma County school board, is to have a number of non-fiction books approved for classroom use. They include classics such as Jack London’s “Call of the Wild” and “White Fang,” and Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring,” which helped launch the environmental movement by documenting the detrimental effects of pesticides on birds.
Swanson predicts the book curriculum will be approved, even if not as quickly as Pauline hoped.
“She’s learning her pace is not the pace of the world. It doesn’t deter her. She doesn’t give up or get mad. She figures out a way to to keep it moving, so it does get done,” her teacher said.
When it comes to her personal pace, Pauline likes to run. She was top junior varsity girl in cross country in the season that just ended. She plays recreational soccer. She is also in the school honor band, playing baritone horn, trumpet and “sometimes a little percussion.”
She’s interested in majoring in environmental studies in college and mixing it with art.
“I enjoy art. I might as well incorporate that and use art to get people more aware about different issues or motivated to be activists themselves,” she said.
Her interest in the environment led to participating in a leadership training program at the Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, sponsored by the Alliance for Climate Education.
“It was really useful,” she said, citing motivated people who helped her hone some goals.
She credits her parents, who run a solar power educational business, with helping instill a passion for environmental causes.
“I feel like they’ve influenced me,” Pauline said.
And caring for the environment makes sense. “It effects everyone on the planet, whether they chose to admit it or not.”
–Lives with: Parents Tor and Dena Allen; sister Jannike, 13
–iPod playlist: “Sadly, it stopped working,” but she likes music from The Beatles to The Doors, The Killers and “Gypsy music.”
–Favorite hobby: “I like to read, a lot of different books, as long as they’re good.”
–Dream jobs: World traveler doing environmental community projects and/or journalism; artist; or teacher of environmental art.
–Favorite TV show: “Malcolm in the Middle” and travel shows.
–Favorite food: “Pasta and pizza.”