Zoe Nagasawa has lived in Dorchester her entire life, with her family, large extended community, and two beloved cats.
Zoe’s family has always been dedicated to building a dedicated community in the heart of the city. Since before her birth, they have worked on housing justice. They rent out space in their home to Black and Latino community members at rates far below market prices, in an effort to help them save to buy their own houses in the community. Her mother founded a community garden in an abandoned lot next door, her father writes Christian social justice curriculum, and her best friend’s family runs a community-based nonprofit, the Boston Project Ministries. Zoe was raised by a village, and a village dedicated to justice and equity.
She took the lessons she learned at home and carried the need for justice with her to BLS and beyond. She joined BLS Gospel Choir at the end of her 7th grade year, and joyfully sang and served with them throughout her BLS career, seeking to bring a little more soul and diversity to the BLS community. She also joined the BLS Youth Climate Action Network (YouthCAN), and there discovered her passion for climate justice. Zoe believes that the climate crisis is the most pressing issue of our time, not least because it exacerbates already existing racial, economic, and social issues. With YouthCAN, she has lobbied for statewide environmental bills, spread climate education and awareness throughout BLS and beyond, and helped write her own state-level climate education bill. Through YouthCAN, she is also a member of the MA Climate Education Organization and the MA Youth Climate Coalition.
Attending Boston Public Schools for the majority of her life, and transitioning from a predominantly Black elementary school in Mattapan to the majority-white BLS, has also exposed Zoe to the inequities in BPS, especially around access to the Boston exam schools. Because of this, she worked with the Center for Collaborative Education to write a report about the uneven ground that the exam schools stand on. She consequently served as a member of the BPS Exam School Admissions Task Force this year. She hopes to continue pursuing education equity and environmental justice through the Ward Fellowship and throughout her life.
Zoe’s sponsor is Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu.