But for Destiny and Free Your Voice, this was only the first step on the road to victory. The Maryland Department of Energy, known as MDE, had issued the initial permits for the incinerator, which had since expired due to the fact that no construction had begun. So Free Your Voice called on the community to protest outside the MDE offices. “Hundreds of people came out from the morning ‘til the late afternoon to protest. The plan was to drop off, one by one, sunflower shaped petitions that said a person’s basic concerns. It was going to be really annoying for them. So their response was to lock the gates.”
But after canvassing all around Curtis Bay, a closed door wasn’t going to stop Destiny. She said, “that energy, that passion, that anger that we all felt… throughout the course of the campaign came out in that moment, and it felt amazing.” And through negotiations with MDE, nine people were allowed to drop off petitions.
Roughly three months following the petition drop off, MDE declared the permits had expired because no work had been done at the site for over 18 months. Free Your Voices had won.
At the same time, Destiny won the Goldman Environmental Prize, awarded to only six people, one from each inhabited continent, in the world annually. But Destiny doesn’t consider herself the only winner. When asked about the Goldman Prize, she said she won “as a representative of the group.”
Destiny had embodied the concept of resilience. When she began her campaign she discovered, “the hard truth is that people will underestimate you… They will think that whatever you’re passionate about is just some silly hobby. That’s what people told me. And they thought I would be gone in a year when I went to college. Surprise!”
Her message to the RPCS community was simple: activists can succeed regardless of age. She ended her speech to the Upper School by saying, “There’s hope to change the world we live in, and we all have the ability to do it."