One of the problems with the green movement is that environmentalists are often preaching to the converted. Local high school senior Michael Major wants to change that, and he started by challenging the public to ‘change the climate’ on a 50 foot sign above the freeway.

The giant banner hung on the side of a clean energy office building at 3402 Pico Blvd directly facing the I-10 freeway, causing thousands of drivers to reflect on what it means to change the climate.

The message is ambiguous, which is Major’s point — he wants to engage more people in actively thinking about climate change.

“I was hoping to reach those who usually neglect the climate crisis,” said Major. “I was hoping that those who drive by would see it and think about it maybe for the rest of the car ride or maybe just a little bit, and really consider it and try to unpack it.”

The idea first came to Major when he was touring the environmentally focused companies in the office building with a group of students last year. Major enjoyed the tour and made a strong impression on the property owner Ben Van de Bun, co-owner of Cypress Creek Renewables, Paramount Equity, LoanPal, FHR, and CEO and President of Guthy-Renker.

“What made Major stand out was that he listened, but he was not just “buying” the story he heard hook, line and sinker. He offered the following insight “aren’t you preaching to the already converted? Wouldn’t you do better if you could get more and new people to see things your way?,” said Jeff McKay, marketing manager for Cypress Creek Renewables and 8minute Solar Energy.

The renewable energy executives were impressed by Major’s observation and asked him what he would do differently. Major quickly rose to the challenge and offered the idea for the ‘change the climate’ sign.

“As marketers, we appreciated the visceral reactions it invoked from its provocativeness and ambiguity. As business people, we love the moxie from Michael saying ‘I can make and put up a sign on your building saying just that’… and he did,” said McKay.

Following Van de Bun’s approval, Major solicited the help of an artist friend, acquired the materials, and delivered the 50 foot bright fuchsia sign to the office. The sign was then mounted on the side of the building where over 30,000 cars drove by every day.

“I consider myself pretty entrepreneurial and I like to think outside the box on issues like this. I want to figure out how I can stand out and how to make issues I’m passionate about stand out,” said Major. “It’s not easy to make that happen, but if you spend time thinking about it and look at it from different angles, you can be far more successful.”

Major lives in Santa Monica, is a senior at the Chadwick School, and wants to study business in university. He believes that creative people make the best business people and points to Elon Musk as an example of someone who became hugely successful by voicing ideas no one else was brave enough to try.

To Major the sign was just one way to approach environmental outreach creatively. Major said that the previous generation failed to take action on climate change and that if his generation doesn’t try something different the problem will only be worse for the next generation.

Clara@smdp.com