Powershift 2009 turned out to be a star-filled event: Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Wendell Berry, Bill McKibben, and other Big Green People (BGP’s) were in attendance. Nancy Pelosi’s plane was grounded in California because of the snow, but we rallied nonetheless.
D.C. was hit with six inches of snow on Sunday night, but we gussied up and lobbied all day Monday. Our group met in a group of 30+ with the aids for both our Congressman Zack Space and Senator Sherrod Brown. Both meetings went well, though we’re going to follow up with them on the clean coal issue, which is the most relevant debate for Ohio/W.Va/Va.
Here are some more media links for our action this past weekend:
- NYTimes – “Student activists hit Washington to push for climate bill”
- Guardian – “Power Shift grows into a socially inclusive climate protest”
- American News Project – “Anti-Coal Day on Capitol Hill”
- Washington Times – “Pro-Green Activists Turn up the Heat on Congress”
- CNN – “Washington Protesters Push ‘Clean Energy,’ Protest Coal Use
The Powershift website also keeps track of all news media (link here)
One of the best aspects of Powershift was the increased emphasis on issues of racial and economic justice. There was definitely an awareness that you cannot fight for one aspect of social justice while ignoring all the others. Particularly for environmentalists (and this goes for feminists as well), the movement has primarily been led by the white upper class. This year, 3/4 of the speakers at Powershift were Black, Latino, or Indigenous peoples. Let me tell you, it was bloody awesome.
I can’t stop thinking about much we’ve distanced ourselves from past activist generations. We watch VH1 specials on a decade of protesting hippies, distancing ourselves from the very real emotional and physical risks that they took. We’ve forgotten how to care about anything. Most of my generation limits our political involvement to “internet activism” –all easily accomplished from a desk chair. And again, completely oblivious to how privileged we are to be sitting in that desk chair, surfing on a laptop.
Well, I know there are at least 12,000 who were willing to get their hands a little dirty. Or snowy.