Energy radiated off Sol Petroni since she was a child--from her desire to constantly be physically active to her expressive face that would let you know exactly how she was feeling. Now 19, Sol continues to give off fiery energy like the Sun that her name denotes, but now she has converted it into a powerful passion for the natural world too.
Hailing from Rosario, Argentina, which is surrounded by nature, Sol had early and constant interactions with the environment. She was already getting involved in social impact organizations and NGOs, but it wasn’t until the last year or so that Sol realized the critical juncture the world was at with regards to nature and its importance moving forward.
“My sister is vegan and has always been involved in environmental causes, and then when Greta’s FridaysforFuture started, the importance of it all hit me,” Sol said. “I realized that without a prospering environment I was not going to be able to do any of the things I wanted to do because it is essential to our livelihood.”
Sol decided to become vegetarian as she learned more about the detrimental effects of meat consumption, particularly with how reliant Argentina and her province of Santa Fe are in the cow production industry.
The global March climate strike was a bit unorganized and lacked the support that Sol and others desired in Rosario, but it functioned as a starting off point for them to ensure the September strike would be a resounding success. And it was. Sol and other fellow passionate environmentalists from Rosario were able to mobilize over 1,200 people.
One of the things she realized throughout her organization efforts was that people did not know how to help and would constantly ask what they could do. Even as Sol helped coordinate informational courses, people would take them and then ask when the next one was. She was not surprised at people’s lack of knowledge on what to do because the school system does not teach much about the importance of the environment; even Sol has had to do the majority of her research on her own.
That is part of the reason Sol is planning to start a podcast, which her university has graciously offered her the resources to conduct, to help disseminate information that at times is not translated into Spanish or is simply too complex.
“Oftentimes the youth are not incentivized to ask questions like ‘What is the kind of world we want to live in? How do we want it to look and do we like what is going on?’” Sol said passionately. “This mobilization I am seeing among people my age can be a first step to more civic engagement. Today it is the environment. Tomorrow, I want my peers to feel they have the voice to say, ‘I want politics to be centered around this type of issue or development, and I have the right to act, to protest, and to have my voice be heard.”
Sol has big battles ahead. Protecting the environment, transforming education, and increasing civic engagement are all ambitious goals for a 19-year-old. But Sol's future is bright. After participating in the LALA Lima Bootcamp, she was inspired to think about how new, innovative and holistic education initiatives can transform minds and lives. This is part of the reason she was so excited about being accepted to participate in the inaugural cohort of the LALA Academy in 2020.
The other reason she is excited about the Academy is that Sol is driven to author her own future. "After the Bootcamp, I realized the limitless potential of being able to create and organize events or organizations about the things I am passionate about," Sol ponders, then adds, "as I often remind myself, if the conditions don’t exist, you have to create them!”