Tuesday, 10 March 2009

PowerShift 2009 in Washington DC

photo: Shadia Fayne Wood, PowerShift 2009You may have heard about the "youth climate movement." It is no longer just about global warming. On February 27th-March 1st, 12,000 young leaders from all fifty states, every Canadian province, and about a dozen other nations converged on the Washington D.C. Convention Center for the largest gathering of climate and clean-energy activists in U.S. history. On Monday, March 2nd, they marched on Congress despite subfreezing temperatures to lobby Senators and Representatives, and risk arrest, to urge US government action on climate, energy, and green jobs.

What began with Bill McKibben's 2006 StepItUp demonstrations has grown into a movement raising issues of equity, justice, and economic reform.

"We are having a broader conversation than just climate change, or climate science," said Marcie Smith, a student at Transylvania University in Kentucky, testifying before the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. "This is a conversation about justice, equity and opportunity."

"All for green! Green for all!" has become one of the movement's rally cries, a simple turn of phrase that has deep meaning for many pulled into this movement.

Juan Reynosa, a 27-year old community organizer with New Mexico Youth Organized, testified before Congress and shared his vision of a clean, green economy strong enough to lift up the currently marginalized and disaffected.

"It's time to rebuild our communities," Reynosa said. "This time we must include everyone in this new energy economy - single moms, drug addicts, ex-offenders. Everyone." At a time when US statistics show 49% of inner-city youth are unemployed, this is a great challenge, and a huge hope for eco-justice.

See Wikipedia summary of the movement, the PowerShift blog and video.

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