Where the Youth Climate Movement Needs to Grow

This blog post was written by Elana Bulman – I’m cross-posting from her PowerShift 2011 blog. If you’re interested in building the climate movement this summer, please check out all the summer programs including the Summer of Solutions at http://www.powershift2011.org/summer.
The youth climate movement has become very good at articulating what we don’t want. At Power Shift, we fully exercised our ability to condemn dirty energy. We demanded that Lisa Jackson put a ban on fracking. We marched on big polluters and their allies like the Chamber of Commerce and the Department of the Interior. We heard Tim DeChristopher put out a call for thousands of activists to collectively shut down coal plants.
Power Shift demonstrated the energy and passion the youth climate movement brings to stopping the polluters who are creating chaos on our earth. But we as a movement have a long way to go in promoting what we do want, and more importantly, knowing how we are going to get there.
Its one thing to shut down a coal plant, but it’s only going to hurt the neighboring community if we don’t have an alternative energy system ready to take its place. Its one thing to know that Monsanto is “evil” but it’s a whole different level if you know how to produce sustainable agriculture. Its one thing to chant “Clean energy now!” but you’re going to be much more convincing if you understand how to make renewable energy economically viable.
That’s where programs like Summer of Solutions come in. Summer of Solutions is a 2-month program that trains participants how to develop the green economy by creating hands-on, community-based solutions to climate change. Throughout the summer, participants learn not just what is wrong with the current system, but also how to make changes that integrate climate and energy solutions, economic security, and social justice.
At Power Shift, Summer of Solutions leaders and past participants, known as “Solutionaries”, ran around with jumbo sunglasses that we called the “Solutionary Lens”. We encouraged people to look through the Solutionary Lens to discover how it feels to use an actively participatory approach to create holistic solutions that confront a broad range of local and global problems through people power, rather than addressing individual issues. The Solutionary Lens views economic collapse, global development, local inequalities and global justice, environmental sustainability and personal fulfillment as not only linked, but sharing the same root causes and transformative solutions.
This summer, there will be 15 programs across the country engaging in their own green economy development projects. We will pioneer urban agriculture ventures, retrofit homes and businesses, create distributed renewable energy opportunities, make biking more accessible, and work towards green manufacturing facilities. Each program engages in its own solutions, which you can learn more about at www.grandaspirations.org/programs.
The final deadline to apply as a full-time participant for Summer of Solutions is THIS SUNDAY, April 24 at midnight, PST. Part-time volunteer participants can apply up until the summer.  The application is available at www.grandaspirations.org/apply2sos. There are need-based stipends available for participation, and we will do our best to support you this summer. With just a few days until the deadline, don’t wait to apply for a transformative experience that will provide you with the tools you need to bring the youth climate movement to a new level of understanding not only what the problems are, but how we can create solutions.

2 Responses to “Where the Youth Climate Movement Needs to Grow”


  1. 1 Patrick Apr 22nd, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    Time to move beyond any ‘woe is me/shame on you” storylines. The public won’t buy into any nightmares. There has to be a dream. If the youth movement wants to succeed where their parents have failed, they need to start really thinking different, really relating to the people they want to move ( and those aren’t the deniers or the dismissive, but the vast middle who are just busy trying to balance their budgets, times and money.
    What dream do you have? What future do you envision? Is it where alienating consumption is replaced by conscious consumption? Is it where wisdom, experience and compassion (truly in infinite supply) over stuff?
    Are you willing to embrace people different than you and look at life through their eyes in order to get them to change their behavior? Can you think strategically and tactically instead of just judgmentally?
    It’s a big stretch to ask a civilization based upon fire to stop burning in order to be warm and well fed. How will you do that?
    Get out of poor pitiful me mode and start thinking like the folks who can vote the way you want, who can buy the way you want, and figure out what will get that to happen. Moralizing is a FAIL. Shame is a FAIL. “An Inconvenient Truth” is a FAIL. All the established NGOs are FAILS. Get a new thought.

  1. 1 Wolf Pictures » Wolf Pictures |The Moon – Red Sky – Native American – Chant – Meditation Trackback on Apr 23rd, 2011 at 12:05 am
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About Timothy


Timothy is a youth climate leader based in St. Paul. He's all about people power, and being the changes we actually want to see. I've been heavily involved in community development and using climate solutions as incredible opportunities for local economic activity, collective empowerment, and self-determination. Timothy is a recent graduate of Macalester College, where he did exciting work on revolving funds, carbon neutrality, and cross-campus sustainability leadership development. He now helps run a community energy efficiency and community-based energy cooperative and is core driver of Grand Aspirations and the Summer of Solutions. He does lots of network building with buddies in the youth movement as well as labor, faith, agricultural, small business, and neighborhood groups.

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