Archive for the 'Power Shift' Category

Youth Confront Fossil Industries in Eugene

Direct action as a tactic for confronting the fossil fuel industries is sweeping the United States – and recently took the form of a creative protest immediately after Power Shift West in Eugene, Oregon.  Right after the official Power Shift conference ended, youth activists embarked on an un-permitted march which visited three outposts of industries and government entities that threaten a stable climate and the livability of our planet.  Held in solidarity with the Tar Sands Action in DC that same day, the march was designed to springboard the type of movement-building solutions needed to truly address the climate crisis.

The first stop along the march route was Safeway – a corporation using oil from the Canadian Tar Sands to fuel its vehicle fleets.  Unlike companies including Whole Foods and Bed Bath & Beyond, Safeway has not taken any significant steps to phase out tar sands oil – even after being pressed to do so by environmental groups like ForestEthics.  Since Safeway doesn’t seem to believe its customers care about the impact of the tar sands, we decided to prove them wrong by “returning” dozens of paper bags from Safeway, complete with a giant receipt of purchase.

Next we paid a visit to Bank of America, the biggest financier of coal in the United States.  In the Pacific Northwest, Bank of America is funding companies that are pushing coal export terminals and other destructive coal industry infrastructure.  Every B of A branch is essentially a climate crime scene; so in recognition of this fact, participants in the march strung caution tape and warning signs between the pillars at the Eugene branch.  A die-in outside the bank, some messages scrolled in chalk, and a bit of creative street theater rounded out the B of A action.

Our last stop was at the Eugene Democrats campaign office headquarters, where march participants pledged dozens of volunteer hours to fight for clean energy over the next year.  Calling on the Obama administration to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and harness the power youth activists ready to devote their time to a candidate who stands up for the climate, we joined with thousands of people across the country who are ready to see the President take the kind of bold stance that will re-energize his base for the 2012 elections. Continue reading ‘Youth Confront Fossil Industries in Eugene’

Occupy Denialism

Occupy Denialism: Toward Ecological and Social Revolution

This is a reconstruction from notes of a keynote address delivered to the Power Shift West Conference, Eugene, Oregon, November 5, 2011.

All of us here today, along with countless others around the world, are currently engaged in the collective struggle to save the planet as a place of habitation for humanity and innumerable other species.  The environmental movement has grown leaps and bounds in the last fifty years.  But we need to recognize that despite our increasing numbers we are losing the battle, if not the war, for the future of the earth.  Our worst enemy is denialism: not just the outright denial of climate-change skeptics, but also the far more dangerous denial — often found amongst environmentalists themselves — of capitalism’s role in the accumulation of ecological catastrophe.1

Recently, climate scientists, writing in leading scientific journals, have developed a way of addressing the extreme nature of the climate crisis, focusing on irreversible change and the trillionth ton of carbon.  Central to the scientific consensus on climate change today is the finding that a rise in global temperature by 2° C (3.6° F), associated with an atmospheric carbon concentration of 450 parts per million (ppm), represents a critical tipping point, irreversible in anything like human-time frames.  Climate models show that if we were to reach that point feedback mechanisms would likely set in, and society would no longer be able to prevent the climate catastrophe from developing further out of our control.  Even if we were completely to cease burning fossil fuels when global average temperature had risen by 2° C, climate change and its catastrophic effects would still be present in the year 3000.  In other words, avoiding an increase in global average temperatures of 2° C, 450 ppm is crucial because it constitutes a point of no return.  Once we get to that point, we will no longer be able to return, even in a millennium, to the Holocene conditions under which human civilization developed over the last 12,000 years.  Many of you are aware that long-term stabilization of the climate requires that we target 350 ppm, not 450 ppm.  But 450 ppm remains significant, since it represents the planetary equivalent of cutting down the last palm tree on Easter Island.2.

Continue reading ‘Occupy Denialism’

Thoughts following Midwest Powershift

Cross-posted from by Ruby Levine

I spent the weekend at Midwest Powershift in Cleveland. Among the rallies, trainings, and speeches, I was able to catch some downtime with fellow Summer of Solutions program leaders and participants from around the Midwest. Especially valuable was a conversation I had with members of other Midwestern programs on Saturday night.

500 young people applaud Joshua Kahn Russell's keynote poem at Midwest Powershift in Cleveland. Photo credit Ben Hejkal.

This conversation helped me articulate two things: one, the “good environmentalists vs. the evil polluters” framing I saw a lot of other places during the conference makes me deeply uncomfortable, and two, if the green economy is going to work it needs to be the whole economy, not a side industry.

Continue reading ‘Thoughts following Midwest Powershift’

Power Shift West: Registration Open!

Across the country a bold movement is emerging to demand a clean and sustainable future. People of all ages and backgrounds are coming together to show industry and politicians that we will not let our country continue its dangerous addiction to fossil fuels and youth are at the forefront. Whether it is in DC resisting the disastrous Keystone XL pipeline, in Appalachia resisting the destructive process of mountaintop removal or in cities resisting the placement of toxic industries near low-income communities our generation is taking a crucial role in this process.

In the Pacific Northwest, we face numerous and complex problems. There is the export of coal to Asian markets, the expansion of clear cutting in ancient forests, the importation of tar sands equipment, unsustainable food systems, close ties between industry and politicians, and the ongoing inequity in the distribution of environmental harm in our own communities. Yet we also know how powerful we are when we come together as a movement. Youth environmental activists have been victorious in gradually phasing out coal plants, defeating LNG export terminals, and passing some of the boldest climate legislation in the country.

That is why on November 4th-6th, members of the youth environmental movement from up and down the west coast are going to Eugene for Power Shift West. The weekend long conference will have speakers, panels, skill building workshops and opportunities to network with other leaders of the youth climate movement. We gather to deepen our understanding of the systems that are destroying the environment and to develop tools to dismantle those systems and construct equitable and sustainable alternatives.

We demand a viable future where the health of our communities and our land is put above the profit of corporations. Come join us and be part of this growing movement.

Get involved today by registering to join us at Power Shift West.

Attend on Facebook & follow us on Twitter.

Will Green Jobs Be YOUTH Jobs?

This post was co-written with Michael Davidson.

Image credit: UOPowerShift09Just in case our 5 years of swarming state capitals decked out in green hard hats, running campaigns calling for more jobs in clean energy, and vowing to only vote for candidates who support renewable energy companies hasn’t made it clear — youth really want more green jobs.

While young people have been some of the biggest advocates for green jobs, no one has really tried to answer the question of whether green jobs will be youth jobs? Will more green jobs mean more jobs for youth, or will young people miss out on the very green jobs we’ve worked so hard to create?

So far, the answer has been “we don’t know.” That’s because, despite all of the green jobs studies that have been done, none of them has really looked at the different kinds of people who actually get green jobs (one exception is for income and education level). This is especially true across different races, ethnicities, genders, and, yeah, ages. So, we set out to change that, writing the first study we know of to look at youth access to green jobs, and also the first written by youth. Continue reading ‘Will Green Jobs Be YOUTH Jobs?’

Power Summer is Almost Here! Sign Up for a Camp Near You!

“Power never takes a back step-only in the face of more power” -Malcolm X

For that reason the Canadian Youth Climate Coaltion is taking matters into its own hands. Check out a message below from CYCC and get involved with this awesome initiative.

Imagine hundreds of youth from the Pacific to the Atlantic and up to the Arctic Circle trained, prepped and ready to take action for their future and our climate. Pretty great huh?

Well, we imagined it earlier this year, and this summer we are making it a reality. Throughout July and August the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition will be holding Power Summer camps in communities across Canada. At each camp we will provide training in all the skills you need to become the change that our generation needs to see in the world. From creative non-violent action training, to popular education tools and training (we’ll even teach you to give a Climate Justice 101 workshop!) and including training in various organizing skills you need to build up and win campaigns in your community, these camps are a whole lot of action packed into a few days.

The schedule for the summer is:

July 8-9-10th: Yellowknife NWT Facebook
July 15-16-17: Camp Meywasin, Wabamun AB (near Edmonton) Facebook 
July 22-23-24: Camp Byng Sunshine Coast, BC (just outside of Vancouver) Facebook

August 12-13-14: Camp Beaverbrook, Halifax NS

August 18-20-21: Unicamp, Oustide of Toronto, ON

August 26-27-28: Quebec, Location TBA

*Camps start Friday morning and run until Sunday afternoon (subject to change), and the camp locations are open as of Thursday afternoon.

Find out more info and register for a camp near you!

Can’t make it to a camp but want to help? Donate to Power Summer!

If you donate to Power Summer before the end of June you’ll be entered to win a MEC Gift Card!

You can donate 3 easy ways:

1. Click Here to Donate through our online tool (please mark the donation “Power Summer Support” in the comments section)

2. By mail. Cheques can be made out to Tides Canada Iniatives – the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition Project and mailed to:

Tides Canada Initiatives
400 – 163 Hastings Street West
Vancouver, BC V6B 1H5

3. By phone, direct deposit and more

All information can be found here.

We are also in need of material support in the form of camping equipment and food donations, please get in touch for more info.

Building a self-sufficient movement

Guest post by Tabitha Skervin, one of the 9 arrested at the Capitol April 15 at the “Citizens Filibuster

Late Wednesday night, after our last final, Jordan and I drove out to DC to make our court date Thursday morning. The commute is a hard one and my little PT Cruiser wasn’t much help, but we’ve sort have become pros at it- after all, we did the same exact thing a few weeks back when we decided to disrupt the House with a song. Thursday night, April 14th we headed out to DC to meet up with youth activists from all around the country who were ready to take a risk to inspire the 10,000 students attending Powershift that weekend. We sang an alternative version of the Star Spangled Banner, one that called for our congressmen to start standing up for our future- our right to clean air, water, and food- not big oil, gas, and coal. Disrupting congress is an arrestable action, something that we knew going in. But even though we were arrested and stayed in jail for over 6hrs, we had accomplished our goal. That Monday, hundreds of activists stormed the Department of the Interior and stayed despite the threat of arrest. 21 stayed for arrest even after being threatened with felony charges.

This past week, the nine of us who were arrested that friday all had to come back to DC for our arraignment. For some of us, that meant flying in from Utah, long train or bus rides from Massachusetts, Maine, etc. For Jordan and I it meant pulling another all-nighter to drive in from Michigan. At 8am, Thursday morning, we met with our lawyers and we ended the day with a drug test at around 3pm. This is the not-so-sexy side of civil disobedience, the part where sacrifice starts to kick in and we are forced to face financial, personal, and professional consequences for our action. But at the same time, these past couple of days have been the most encouraging for me.

I see the beginning of a culture within our movement that is willing to support those who decide to take action even at the expense of their own future. I am beginning to see a movement with people that can find it in their hearts to give the little that they have to support those who they can call allies. I’m beginning to see a movement that is becoming financially independent, and with financial independence comes true mobility. Is the movement strong enough to support one another? Is it capable of making things like money less of a concern when taking action? I think it is.

Going to court on Thursday wasn’t a walk in the park. I saw too many of my less fortunate black brothers and sisters in that room and too many people there for minor drug charges. The failure of our court system was hard to ignore- the true victims of our unjust society were criminalized while the true criminals were no where to be found. Yet there was still hope because in the middle of this scene was a row of individuals who were crazy enough to think that they could take on this institution…and there are hundreds who were starting to stand behind them and their action.

Even though Thursday I was surrounded by those who force their laws on us, It also wasn’t scary, nerve racking, or daunting- it was liberating. I am not alone. I have countless of people- some I don’t even know personally- who are there to back me up. I want to see more of those seats filled with activists standing up for what is right. I want them to feel the same sense of relief that, despite the outcome, there is a whole movement of like minded individuals ready to bring about support in any way that they can- whether it be with time, money, or just encouragement. I believe the nine of us and the 21 who got arrested in the department of Interior are continuing to play a part in inspiring others to join us in tactful civil disobedience. A movement that has learned how to sacrifice individually and for one another is powerful. It’s a force to be reckoned with!

Glenn Beck Says You Don’t Love Your Mom

Send a Mother's Day E-CardA few weeks ago, Glenn Beck warned his Fox News audience of a grave new threat: you!

Beck cautioned his viewers that the 10,000 young people organizing for a clean energy future at Power Shift 2011 were “radicals” being brainwashed to “kill their parents”. Naturally, we were alarmed, but after carefully reviewing the Power Shift agenda we concluded that no workshops on Matricide were secretly added to the program.

Send your mom a Power Shift e-card to wish her a radical Mother’s Day! Continue reading ‘Glenn Beck Says You Don’t Love Your Mom’

We have the Awesome

Hey climate movement, you know what I missed about us that Power Shift pumped right back into me last week?

The awesome.

Yeah, flashmobs, pranks, swiftly organized warroom tweetups, late-night dance parties of 15,000. Remember that rebellious side of us, that “we won’t take the past for an answer” side of us? Remember that “join us because this is awesome and you’re invited” side of us?

Politics is personal identity built into popular movements. The Tea Party is powerful because it ready-makes an identity for those who feel left behind by the 21st Century. It’s a safe space in a post-9/11, post financial collapse, peak-global-hegemony America. And the Tea Party’s done well wiping up a messy identity crisis by defining what they’re afraid of.

We’re also proud to define ourselves as what we’re not: we are cooler than the fossil forces of the past. They rail on chalkboards; we rally with giant puppets in the streets. They are talking heads for septuagenarians; we are sneaking into shareholder meetings and embarrassing giant fossil fuel companies. They are snarking about crosshairs on Facebook from defensive compounds in Wasilla. We are 10,000 lithe young people fighting for our future while a crotchety old pitbull like Tom Donohue screams to get off of his front yard at the US Chamber of Commerce. We are in the West Wing interrupting the President of the United States of America to remind him that energy shouldn’t kill.

But the past is where we leave the comparison. Those fearful forces haven’t got much vision for the future, and we sure do: we are identity awesome. We are the people not afraid to build something better than the assumptions handed to us.

Other American generations have staked their identities on propositions equally grand – rebelling from tyranny, beating back fascism, defending the world from communism. Our generation is staking its identity as the people responsible enough to face climate science for what it means, and political corruption for what it is. To build a cleaner, leaner, more durable and more prosperous way of life on our full tide of vibrant energy. The people smart enough to put our moral muscle to work.

But we need to remember how to have a blast doing it. Where’s the rebelliousness, the youthful energy pulling more pranks to call out our opposition? Remember when the Yes Men and the Avaaz Action Factory staged a mock press conference on the US Chamber’s “sudden” climate action? Remember when Tim DeChristopher tied on his bandanna and marched into the fray of a corrupt shareholder process? Remember when young people lay down on the train tracks against tremendous new coal facilities? (That hasn’t happened yet, but it should.)

We mustn’t abandon tried-and-true organizing tactics, nor our hard-earned insider game. And if we do rebel our way into a better world, we do so on the shoulders of giants: after all, we’re now defending the Clean Air Act that our foremothers first passed, celebrating Earth Day last week because our forefathers founded the first four decades ago. And we need the scientific white papers still, because after all, we’re fighting for a political reality that keeps pace with the chemical reality of the atmosphere. This is a movement of the young and young at heart – if you are awesome, you are in.

Crossposted from The Wonk, Climate Progress and Climate Solutions.

Power Shift 2011: Join The Briefcase Brigades On April 27

Our guest blogger is Noland Chambliss, a member of the Briefcase Brigades.

Ten thousand young people descended on Washington for the Power Shift conference this weekend to call for bold action from government leaders to address climate change and create a clean energy economy for all. Many of these young people had a more specific, and personal, message for Congress: “I need a job.”

Inspired by passionate speeches addressing youth unemployment by AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka and green jobs visionary Van Jones, the members of the Briefcase Brigades are bringing attention to the epidemic of un- and under-employed millennials:

We are ready to work. We know the economy is in bad shape. We know the country is in trouble. We want to help. But first, we need jobs.

Watch the story of the Briefcase Brigades at Power Shift 2011:

On April 27th, while Congress is in recess and members are back in their districts, young people are creating Briefcase Brigades and going to their offices all around the country to demand Congress prioritize jobs over budget cuts.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are over 5 million young people who are out of work. That doesn’t count people with unpaid internships, people with low-wage jobs that don’t have health insurance, and people who went back to school because they couldn’t find a job. Continue reading ‘Power Shift 2011: Join The Briefcase Brigades On April 27′

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