This past weekend I helped to facilitate a T4T (Training for Trainers) for the Sierra Student Coalition’s Rust Belt Region Summer Leadership Training Program (Sprog for short). The trainings teams for all of the Sprog programs are hard at work creating a transformative experience for changemakers across the nation, preparing to share with them the skills they will use to run campaigns and build power in their own communities.
I made the decision to go to my first Sprog in 2009 at a point in my life when I would feel both outraged and helpless over the human rights abuses or environmental destruction that I saw on the news. Overflowing with emotion and unsure what to do to with myself I felt very alone. I decided to take a leap of faith and register for Sprog which I had heard about at Power Shift.
At Sprog I found what I had been looking for. I was given the tools that I could use to channel the fire that raged within. I left that week with new skills that gave me the confidence to build power against the injustices I have witnessed. More importantly, I would not face these struggles alone. I left Sprog with the friendship and support of everyone I had met. At Sprog I was surrounded by young, passionate individuals taking the lead on creating change against all odds. The people I met were staring down the oppressions laid upon them by society and refusing to blink.
Sprog isn’t just about building a community of young people and students. At Sprog I met Betsy Shepard, a loving mother of two pretty rad beat boxing boys, who came to share her story. It hadn’t been long before Betsy came to Sprog that her life underwent a drastic change. She had made the decision to stand up to Old Dominion Electric Cooperative who had just announced plans to construct a massive 1,500 MW coal fired power plant in the town where Betsy is raising her family. Slowly she gathered others in the community and began to work with student leaders in the area. Together they checked ODEC every step of the way. Because of these delays the proposed coal plant will have to meet compliance with the new EPA carbon standards and ODEC has announced their intentions to scrap the plant all together.
For years I looked to Betsy for inspiration and when I decided to write this blog post I went to Betsy to chat. Betsy told me that right before that Sprog in 2009 that she was burnt out and ready to quit organizing on the coal plant but she was so inspired by all of the young people at Sprog that she went back home determined to continue.
You all know the people I went to Sprog with.
You see them on WeArePowerShift and across the internet every day.
You’ve pulled all nighters with them writing campaign plans or painting banners.
You surrounded the White House with them.
You see them in the mirror each morning.
Together our strength is growing. We’ve begun to unify across issues for the sake of justice and in the name of those with stories yet untold. The foundations of a movement have been laid by each and every one of you in your communities. We’ve pushed ourselves to new limits and with each marginal victory we march one step closer to transformative change. But, we must do more.
Already science is telling us that we cannot stop global temperature averages from rising above 2 degrees Celsius (more brutal logic here and here). In the United States our political landscape is deadlocked and we are witnessing a barrage of congressional attacks fueled by corporate interests and the 1% against clean energy, pollution controls, equal rights, and public health protections.
We find ourselves in a day and age where each morning demands innovative thought, robust strategy, and resilient organizers. The days of average are over, we must be exceptional. This is our task. We know it will be hard.
Whether you are a seasoned organizer and are looking for a space to recharge your passion and polish up on your grassroots organizing skills OR you’re someone like me a few years ago and you feel that fire within but aren’t sure how to take action Sprog has what you are looking for.
Have you already gone to a SSC Sprog? Comment and share your Sprog experience!