Archive for the 'Focus the Nation' Category

Iowa City promotes environmental education in local high schools

Cross-posted from by Kerri Sorrell

Focus often eludes high school students with seven different classes covering seven different subjects and too much homework to jam in their backpacks at the end of the day – but on Thursday, April 5, EcoCentric and Envirocity, environmental clubs at two Iowa City high schools, teamed up with Iowa City Summer of Solutions to concentrate class discussions on one issue: the environment.

The daylong event, Focus the Classroom, encouraged teachers to relate the subjects they teach to current environmental issues. Last summer, Zach Gruenhagen, Bailey McClellan and Noelle Waldschmidt from the Iowa City solutionary team worked to complete a website with sustainability-focused lesson plans for every subject area, to help teachers more easily integrate the environment into their classes. In addition, presentations ran all day from environmental leaders in the Iowa City community, including Tim Dwight – a Iowa City High graduate and former professional football player.

Dwight, a popular speaker at both high schools, co-founded a renewable energy company called Integrated Power Corporation after retiring from the San Diego Chargers. At the Focus the Classroom event, he gave presentations extolling the virtues of solar energy.

“This shift [to renewable energy] that I’m going to talk about is your generational shift, and it’s going to be massive. Producing energy with wind and solar will change the world because those resources are available anywhere, and you’re going to see it,” he told students at West High school.

Read more …

Continue reading ‘Iowa City promotes environmental education in local high schools’

COP15: From the streets to the meeting room with Todd Stern and Jonathan Pershing

Cross-posted from

Guest Post by Garett Brennan, Executive Director- Focus the Nation

The other morning, the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) released their AOSIS Text. The first proposal in the negotiations so far that is actually responding to what the science is demanding:

1. Fair – securing at least $200 billion by 2020 in climate financing to support poor countries to bear costs associated with Mitigation, Adaptation and Insurance in the event of disasters

2. Ambitious – peaking global carbon emissions by 2015, and returning atmospheric carbon dioxide levels below 350 parts per million

3. Binding – a legally binding agreement that can be enforceable.

“We are not negotiating economics or science here, we are negotiating our survival,” said Antonio Lima, ambassador of Cape Verde and the vice-chair of AOSIS. “We are the ones on the front lines. Sea levels are already rising. If we leave Copenhagen without a legally binding outcome, without a strong Finance commitment for adaptation, mitigation and insurance from largest emitting nations, how do you expect me to go home and tell my children that we failed and we are going to die?”

On Saturday, we marched with more than 50,000 people from all over the world from Parliament Square to the Bella Center. I helped hoist and carry a huge 15 ft flag for about a mile in the wind, passing it back and forth with two guys from Lebanon. It was exhausting and exhilarating to march in solidarity with so many cultures all calling for the same shared future.

Continue reading ‘COP15: From the streets to the meeting room with Todd Stern and Jonathan Pershing’

Clean Energy Forums are popping up in target states across the country. What about your state?

Cross posted from grist:Clean Energy Forums

From coast to coast, teams of young volunteers are organizing Clean Energy Forums.  As part of Focus the Nation‘s campaign Community and the Road to Copenhagen, young organizers are engaging their communities for a day of climate dialogue and reaching out to their senators to join the conversations.  Through this nationwide effort, we hope to distill the political will for a strong U.S. commitment at COP15, the U.N. climate conference that will take place in Copenhagen in December.

Continue reading ‘Clean Energy Forums are popping up in target states across the country. What about your state?’

Thinking About Running for Office? “Just Do It!” Says One of Oregon’s Youngest Legislators

This is an excerpt from a podcast and interview I just posted with Oregon State Representative Jules Kopel-Bailey. A young, passionate and pretty brilliant legislator, Representative Bailey is a clean energy and climate champion and recently completed his first full legislative session in Oregon.

While it seems like all eyes are focused on Washington D.C. and the battles raging around Congressional climate and energy legislation, all has been far from quiet on the state front. In the full interview, exclusively at, I speak with Jules about the Pacific Northwest state’s clean energy leadership and get a recap on the 2009 Legislative Session, including the many clean energy victories, battles, and efforts yet in store in Oregon.

This excerpt seemed particularly relevant to our young readers here…

[Jesse Jenkins]: Jules, you hold what I continue to be a distinguished position, as one of the youngest members of the Oregon House of Representatives, is that right?

[Oregon State Representative, Jules Kopel-Bailey]: Second youngest, yes.

Do you have any particular advice for young Oregonians – or others in other states – who are looking to have an impact on the state political process, really engaging at the grassroots level, or are even thinking about running for office themselves someday?

Well, I’ll support the old Nike slogan and say, Just do it!
Continue reading ‘Thinking About Running for Office? “Just Do It!” Says One of Oregon’s Youngest Legislators’

Change We Can Really Believe In!

The youth climate movement is being bombarded with advice and criticism from all directions!

Whether it’s Thomas Friedman bemoaning our generation to get off the “facebook” and into some “faces,” or Joe Romm slamming our movement for being too in-your-face with politicians about ACES, we just can’t catch a break.  We need to show our critics that we are serious about engaging politicians on all levels to create a clean energy future; that we are looking beyond the ACES battle and COP15. We need more Bryce Carters.

Bryce is a veteran of the Virginia climate movement.  Starting with the Focus Bryce Carter Photothe Nation 2008 teach- in campaign, and continuing with recruitment around 07 and 09 Powershift, VA. Powershift, and numerous campus based events, he has been a continuous leader in the Virginia Tech student movement for several years.    His activism and leadership has steadily grown parallel with the growth of the national climate movement, and this April, as many of us did, he decided to leap ahead.

Continue reading ‘Change We Can Really Believe In!’

Brita Climate Ride – Sept 26 to 30

This year’s 2nd annual Brita Climate Ride and “climate conference on wheels” will see 200 cyclists pedal 300 miles from New York City to the US Capitol in Washington DC to raise money and awareness to fight climate change. The ride takes place from September 26 to 30, 2009, and benefits critical projects at three climate and bike-related organizations: Rails-To-Trails Conservancy, Focus the Nation, and Clean Air – Cool Planet. The ride is an unforgettable experience and a unique opportunity to be part of the movement. The picture below shows Climate Riders biking into Washington DC during last September’s Brita Climate Ride.

Brita Climate Ride

Continue reading ‘Brita Climate Ride – Sept 26 to 30′

From Coal to Copenhagen: An Opportunity for Leadership

Focus Roots FellowshipsThis April, the roots of leadership were laid in the Climate movement.  From Powershift to the FTN Town Hall Campaign, young people across the country moved into positions of leadership, and engaged their community and policy makers on our vital clean energy future.  A sea change in the quality and quantity of leadership occurred, and on the eve of the first ever US climate legislation it continues to breed success and momentum.

Since April, certain needs have arisen that must be addressed. First, we must continue pressure on policy makers and institutions to accelerate our transition to clean energy sources, and to strengthen ACES and our local legislation. At the same time, we must fulfill the less noticed need of developing and empowering our new climate leaders.

Continue reading ‘From Coal to Copenhagen: An Opportunity for Leadership’

April: The Turning Point in the Climate Movement

Co-authored by Mollie Ruskin and Mark Kimbrell

FtN Organizing TeamOn Tuesday morning Markese Bryant woke up in his Atlanta apartment, quieted his nerves, and attempted to go about his day as if it were any normal school day.  But this was no ordinary day for Markese.  Today, Markese would become a leader in the climate movement.  Today, Markese would help Atlanta realize the dream of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by shedding the injustices of the carbon economy, and embracing the opportunities of clean energy and green jobs.  This was Focus the Nation 2009.

There are many ways to tell the story of the Focus the Nation Town Hall campaign.  There are the little snippets the media picked out, the experiences of the politicians and panelists who attended the events, and even the war stories of the organizers on the ground.  But no one saw the whole picture quite like the national organizers who worked behind the scenes to put it all together.  These are their stories, their favorite moments; providing not only inspiration but powerful lessons for the future direction of our movement.

Continue reading ‘April: The Turning Point in the Climate Movement’

Focusing the Heartland on a Clean Energy Future

From St. Louis and Philadelphia, to Columbus and Denver, Focus the Nation‘s Clean Energy Town Halls bring youth, community members and elected officials together to find clean energy solutions and plan sustained action.

Forget Seattle and Berkeley. Move over Portland and Boston. When it comes to deciding America’s energy future, it’s place like Akron and Pittsburgh, St Louis and Detroit that deserve the spotlight right now. While many leading cities in the traditionally green bastions along America’s coasts are showing what’s possible, the American ‘Heartland’ is where the nation’s clean energy future must be built. What’s more, the Heartland is where the political fate of climate and clean energy legislation being debated in Congress will be decided.

It’s good timing then that Nationwide Town Halls for Clean Energy Solutions are happening all around our country right now. In community centers, college lecture rooms, and church halls all across the nation this week and last, elected officials from all levels of government are joining young leaders and community members to focus on what it will take to build a clean and prosperous energy economy and tackle climate change. The ongoing Nationwide Town Halls for Clean Energy Solutions are sponsored by the youth-empowerment organization, Focus the Nation, and organized by hundreds of committed community leaders both young and old.

Focus the Nation events have been held in over 165 Congressional Districts, including dozens of town halls across Heartland states like Missouri, Pennsylvania, Colorado and Ohio.

The nationwide town halls kicked off on Monday, April 13th in Philadelphia, where swing Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) joined Drexel University students, community members, and business leaders for a discussion on tackling climate change and seizing the opportunities of the new energy economy.
Continue reading ‘Focusing the Heartland on a Clean Energy Future’

Don’t give Congress a Break this Recess!

Educators agree that allowing children a recess during the school day gives them a needed break, a chance to socialize and play. We need to make sure that during this Congressional Recess our elected officials don’t get a break from hearing us.

Youth voted in record numbers in November 2008, and we were heard.

We demanded bold federal climate policy in 2009, and we got it.

Congressman Waxman and Congressman Markey have drafted the American Clean Energy and Security (ACES) Act, and beginning April 20th, when Congress returns from recess, the negotiations of the bill will begin.

Already, youth across the country are holding meetings during the April Recess with Senators and Representatives to ask for their support on a strong climate bill this year. This is commonly called “getting face time” with elected officials. We need to show them our faces and remind them that this is OUR future on the line.

Let’s remind Congress that we voted. We aren’t taking a break. We want a clean, just energy future.

How? Let’s do a photo petition!

Now, through Earth Day (April 22nd), youth across America will collect thousands of photos of people reminding Congress that they work for us, and in November we voted for a clean energy future. On the first day the ACES bill is heard in Congress, we’ll deliver these photos in the form of a huge photo montage to make sure that we continue to be seen and heard on this important issue. Continue reading ‘Don’t give Congress a Break this Recess!’

Focus the Nation

Community Picks