Maya Staggs is a junior at Classen SAS. Her major is visual arts. Her preferred medium is oil painting, though she currently also has a painting class in acrylics and she’s doing just fine with that medium as well.
As many artists do when they start painting, she says, she is doing mostly portraits. The portraits she paints incorporate aspects of surrealism, with flora and fauna: “Animals or plants that reveal more about the person.”
As she progresses through her education, she is considering both visual arts and science and math; whether to pursue a career in engineering or becoming a math professor. Her father is a painter. “I’ve learned from him that it’s not smart to turn your passion into your work. Maybe one day I could be a professor of art. That would be ideal.”
Maya is also passionate about sustainability and the environment. Three and a half years ago she became a vegan, for the environment, after watching a documentary and doing some intense research. “When we had a smaller population, everyone could get by,” she says. “Now, there is not enough planet for growing meat. We need to be choosey with our resources. I became educated about that.”
Maya is passionate for life on Earth. “Earth is all there is; the world is all we have. Colonizing Mars is not an option, at least not in our lifetime. I think we should consider life on Earth Plan A and that there should be a bumper sticker: ‘We Will Not Leave Earth.’
“It’s fantastic that there are younger and younger environmental activists. There is not enough emphasis on accountability. Recycling is not the answer. Metal straws are not the answer. We have to urge our government to do something. And we need to wrangle our late-stage capitalism into a sustainable economic system.”
And so, in early fall, when Maya’s best friend, Gwyn Atkinson, who lives near CommonWealth asked Maya if she would be interested in becoming a youth apprentice at CommonWealth, Maya was all-in.
Every Saturday, she and Gwyn spend the morning working and learning at CommonWealth Urban Farms. “It’s a sort of meditation for me,” she says. “We have constant stimuli in our lives: intense, instant gratification. I love spending a few hours each week in the earth, in the quiet, with people who care. Eating food you grow is not instant gratification; there is a sense of earning something.”