Wayne State’s campus in Detroit, Michigan was rocked this past weekend when bold student leaders from across the state came together for the Power Vote Campus Storm! Anybody who took part would tell you that it was quite the adventure both to attend and throw together the training crunch that drew in students from as far as Kalamzoo College on the other side of the state!
One of the most exciting things about this training was that it got us out practicing our skills as we learned them. After learning effective skills for getting out and pledging folks, we went out to Detroit’s Eastern Market, the country’s largest historic market district and got over 220 pledges signed!
Personally, one of the most valuable part of this weekend was working with the local Sierra Club’s Environmental Justice Committee to canvas neighborhoods in Detroit’s Southwest side. It was an eye opening experience that taught me the crucial need to build our work around a strong justice focus. It also gave me a small idea about what that kind of work looks like.
Detroit’s Southwest side is one of the hardest hit neighborhoods by mega-polluters like Marathon Oil, who just recently announced the expansion of their refinery in this working-class community of color to take in oil from the Canadian Tar Sands, some of the dirtiest oil on the planet.
Students went out to help community organizers canvas the neighborhood. Our goal was to highlight the sky-high rate of cancer and related deaths in the neighborhood. We asked residents to place a white cross in their lawns if they or anybody related to them was recently diagnosed or died from cancer. One of our members caught up with a community member who was actually on his way for chemotherapy as they approached him!
Hearing people’s stories in the neighborhood taught me a lot about my own city. It was still a big step out of my comfort zone, even as somebody who lives in this city and hasn’t always stayed in the nicest of neighborhoods. It was worth the risk to my own ego. This was an invaluable experience that helped me personally take a step forward as an organizer! I took many lessons away from it.
This was a great weekend that many folks and organizations came together to make happen. It was especially great for a whole weekend that came together in just a little over a week! The stress, sweat and time that went in to this was put to good use and many thanks go all around!
Power Vote is going to be huge across campuses across Michigan, so look out!