By: Diane Emeott Korzen Contributing Writer
Three Boca High School students, who are members of the city’s Youth Subcommittee,
bravely walked up to the podium to share their vision of implementing “a pollution eating art statue in Boca” – now that the city’s two public art projects to-date: Red Reef West wall space, and the Spanish River Tunnels, are done.
Students Luke Lynch, 18, Felipe Mora, 17, and Giullia Santos, 16, each took turns presenting their ideas on an art proposal to Boca City Council earlier this summer.
Their group has 30 members, including youth at Florida Atlantic University (FAU), Spanish River High, Boca High, and Boca Raton’s Pearl City Community.
Santos said her inspiration for the “pollution eating art statue” came from looking at what other cities around the globe are doing, as posted on Pinterest.
Their presentation looks at Bali, Indonesia and Bengaluru, India, asking, “How bad is bad when it comes to plastic bottle pollution? Pretty bad. A million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute! For every six bottles people buy, only one is recycled.”
“This leads to a big problem: plastic bottles take up to 1,000 years for every single bottle to begin to photo-degrade.”
The group gave two examples of how Boca Raton could help eliminate plastic bottles from city parks and beaches – a “Yoshi the Fish” sculpture in India, and “Goby the Fish” sculpture in Indonesia, both constructed to create awareness of the harmful effects of plastic on marine life.
Because of the popularity of Gumbo Limbo Nature Preserve near the beach in Boca, the group proposes a “Gumbo the Turtle” sea turtle sculpture design, with a wide opening for residents and visitors to throw their plastic bottles in.
Goals: To bring awareness to pollution and help dispose of it properly; offer interactive public art to the community; show leadership in sustainability, culture; and draw people in to participate with a Call to Artists to design it.
City Council members responded favorably to the art concept, with several members adding their own variations on the idea.
Lynch said he would like to mention that City Council Member Andrea Levine O’Rourke was instrumental in mentoring and supporting the Luna Art Turtle project.
“She provided us needed insights and perspective that refined our project ideas,” he said.
Their story: Boca Raton’s Community Advisory Panel first hosted a student school safety Town Hall in January 2017, after which the panel was impressed with the involvement and passion the students expressed to their most pressing issues.
One year later, Chair-Elect of the Community Advisory Panel Jon Carter motioned to create the Youth Subcommittee — to provide representation and voice to youth across Middle school, High school, and University students.
The Youth Subcommittee has worked on a notecard collection project, collecting more than 500 written statements on what students believe are city/school issues to be included in a Youth Issues Report that will be presented to City Council in the near future. (Boca High and Spanish River High students worked on the report.)
The Youth Subcommittee also created the L.E.A.D. (Local Youth, Environmental Leaders, Action Orientated, Dedicated to Sustainability) Green Project to address Boca Raton’s local environmental issues.
The Green Project initiative included multi-school beach cleanups, tree planting projects, and other sustainability service projects — winning the 2019 Florida League Of Cities Community Service Contest.
The subcommittee plans to bring in more university students from Lynn University and FAU, and do more service and note-card projects, according to Lynch.