On Our Way to Defining Our Decade – Hundreds of Communities, and Thousands of Leaders On Their Way to 100% Clean Electricity by 2020

The Leadership Campaign capped off the Weeks of Action w/ a sleepout and chants of "Nothing more than 350, nothing less than 100% clean electricity!"

In the past two weeks, hundreds of communities had discussions and took action to begin to define our decade with clean energy.

The votes are still being tallied, but over 6,000 people from across the country voted on the world we want to create, and not surprisingly, the results reflect our generation’s ambition! 83% of us voted to make 100% clean electricity by 2020 a priority.  I’m not just excited about this because we now have thousands of petitions to deliver to our politicians (we do, and we will!). I’m excited about it because we’ve developed not only political demands, but things we can strive to collectively achieve.  And although what we’ve settled on is very ambitious, when you look at the goals and plans that local, statewide, and regional groups drew up, you start to get a sense of “YES, we can actually make this happen!”

In the last few weeks, hundreds of groups either developed a local vision for their decade, brought more people into the discussion, or got to work creating it.

  • Students in Florida, and the Southern Energy Network continued to build support around the Student Green Fund, and got over 1,500 new people on board!
  • Dozens of campuses are committed to moving their campuses beyond coal – an incredibly important first step if we are to reach that goal of 100% clean electricity.
  • The Southwest Workers Union continues to build support for a community-written Peoples Power Plan that will provide safety and prosperity for residents in San Antonio, TX.
  • The Ohio Student Environmental Coalition is jumping into their upcoming primaries by working to “make green a primary color” and bring political candidates along with them in defining the decade with clean energy
  • The stories go on and on with students at Michigan State University calling their own hearing on a coal plant in violation, to voices across Appalachia continuing to articulate a vision of a region with a sustainable economy and no longer constrained by the coal industry, and even to American University’s EcoSense winning their clean energy revolving fund campaign this past week!

I have no illusions that just because thousands of us voted that we want to achieve 100% clean energy by 2020 that it will just magically happen. But I do think­ that if the people who voted and the communities who got to work on their local projects continue to build a movement big enough, strong enough, and creative enough, we might just reach our goal, and we’ll try damn hard.

I closed out the Weeks of Action in Massachusetts with the Leadership Campaign at their sleepout on the Cambridge Commons. What I saw was hundreds of young people from campuses and communities across the state who aren’t waiting for their political leaders to legislate change, they are out there creating it. They are pushing their own bill to move the state towards 100% clean electricity by 2020 by hosting sleepouts, lobby days and call-ins; they are narrowing in on Massachusetts’ 5 coal-fired power plants and developing direct action campaigns to shut them down; and they are continuing to use their campuses and communities as models of a future powered by clean energy, through projects like their Commonwealth Challenge.

These two weeks of action are over, but our work is far from done. In the next few weeks, the communities that worked to come up with a vision for their decade will be delivering their results to community and elected leaders, and the discussions about how to work together to realize our vision will continue at places like the Power Shift New York Summit and beyond.

About Whit

Whit is the Co-Field Director of Energy Action Coalition. He got his start in organizing at Carleton College in Northfield, MN. Whit helped organize the March to ReEnergize IA with the SSC, was a fellow for Power Shift 2007, and has been working with Energy Action Coalition ever since, focusing on field efforts for the Power Vote Campaign and Power Shift 2009. He's led youth delegations to the UN climate negotiations, and is interested in organizing from the local to international level. Follow him at http://twitter.com/whitjones

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