Young Leaders Award Recipient AY Young is a producer, singer, songwriter, entertainer, and entrepreneur. He first began writing poetry at 14, a reaction to the great disparity in Kansas City known as “the Troost divide”. While touring the USA, AY learned that over 1 billion people lack access to electricity. So AY began powering concerts using renewable energy, raising awareness about sustainability, and fundraising to bring people electricity. Thus, the Battery Tour was born and has plugged into 17 countries to date.
AY's Project: Battery Tour + Project17
After founding the Battery Tour, powering over 900+ concerts using 100% clean energy and bringing energy boxes to over 15+ countries worldwide, "Project17" was launched. P17 is a conduit for NGOs, Non-Profits, Corporations, Private Sector, and individual citizens of the world to get involved and to plug into solutions for the many challenges identified by the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. AY has made one song for each of the 17 Global Goals. Part of the project will involve lining up a sponsor, an impact partner, and other projects. A total of 17+ performances will transpire through 2023. The proceeds of the music and tour power the impact projects for each of the Global Goals.
We recently checked in with AY to learn more about his background and plans for the conservation and regeneration of the planet.
Walking Softer: What brought you to your work in climate and environmental justice?
AY: My work in climate and environmental justice came from chasing my passion. I figured out what my "why" is, what drives me, and I wanted to do that every day, which is music. And so that's what brought me into this work, just trying to figure out how to do music every day - how can I power a concert in an environmentally conscious way from any location? By using clean energy, I can power my concerts from anywhere allowing me to share my passion for music while making change for the betterment of our planet.
Walking Softer: What is a milestone on your climate action journey thus far?
AY: There are so many milestones in this journey, but definitely the inauguration of President Biden in 2020 and being designated as one of the 17 young leaders of the United Nations for their sustainable development goals. Being elected as one of the 17 generational leaders from the U.N., DP, and Samsung was huge. And then, of course, I just recently launched my project live in Times Square.
Walking Softer: Who or what inspires you?
AY: If I was going to think about what inspires me, it would be the people, it would be you. What I've been doing in terms of the battery tour, doing these concerts powered by clean energy has all been for the people, by the people, and successful with the people. It's these outlets, these people, plugging into each other on the local level and on the national level, powering change with me. If it wasn't for the people, I wouldn't have brought energy to over 17 countries. I wouldn't have been able to sustain myself and keep myself alive as I traveled the world to bring this message, this music of sustainability, climate change, action, all those things. If it wasn't for the people, which I call the outlet - and because they've plugged in, they've empowered my battery, like physically as a human, and this movement inspires me every day. Keeps me alive and keeps me happy. The faith of, like, "Yo, we can really do this!" We can really achieve these 17 goals together. Every facet of humanity can truly come together as outlets for change to make an impact.
Walking Softer: Any people or organizations that you would like to thank?
AY: My team, everyone from Precy to Kristen, Kris Colley, and James Fierro All the NGO partners that plugged in when this thing was at the bottom floor. National Wildlife Federation (Carey Stanton and Kim), Plastic Pollution Coalition (Dianne Cohen), Faraday Foundation, and so many more all the help and growth have been powered by people. So, thanks to you all! Thanks to my parents, Yolanda and Alan Young!
Follow AY's Journey:
A podcast to amplify the voices of passionate leaders who are reimagining our connection with the Earth.
Plastic pollution is a significant environmental issue that has harmful effects on ecosystems and human health. Here are 10 ways you can help limit your plastic pollution.
The Young Leaders Award is a year-long program that supports passionate, young leaders who are vital agents of change and innovators of solutions for our planet.