by Zakee Kuduro, Creative Director, Energy Action Coalition
It's always a good feeling to meet young people demanding more for their comminuties. Some young Americans consider giving a damn about your envoirment to be corny or uncool. Well, I think it's cool as hell to have clean drinking water, fresh air and organic food. I had the pleasure of catching up with Chris Rodgers from Chester,PA in Chicago for a Power Vote Campaign Training. Chris is a young enviormental leader who's taking a stand for clean energy and empowering his neighborhood. With the Presidential election approaching soon, it's very important for young people from enviormental and socially effected neighborhoods to demand their voices to be heard and get out and vote. Read below more of this interview:
Zakee - How is Power Vote helping build the power of the movement in your neigborhood?
Chris - In the Keystone state, young people are coming together to support clean energy reforms and environmental justice in Pennsylvania. Fracking practices in Northern and Middle Pennsylvania threaten the water systems of communities so while the PA government strives for leniency to develop PA tax revenues, PowerVote is looking to mobilize young voters to ensure that we are putting people before profits.
Zakee - What environmental and energy issues are young people working on in Chester, PA?
Chris - I prioritize reaching the young change agents of Southeastern PA to spread the message. We look to connect all change makers in Pennsylvania through a network of student-led organizations. Reach out to me if you are in the area!! Lets power up!
Zakee - Who are the biggest dirty players corrupting politics in Pennsylvania? And what are you doing to pushback on them?
Chris - I am particularly sensitive to the needs of my native community to Chester, PA as we begin to turn the tide of revitalization and ensuring that we are moving towards a clean energy agenda and put pressure on dirty businesses in our midsts to clean up their act. The town's thriving manufacturing center took a turn for the worse beginning in the late 1960's and as those factory workers flew from the city, Chester became more and more impoverished and overburdened. Schools began suffering. Crime jumped. Chester was led to bring in businesses such as Covanta Energy, which has one of the U.S's largest incinerators nestled close to a residential Chester neighborhood. The documentary Laid to Waste explores how this happen. Marking the city's revitalization beginning with a Harrah's casino which now takes up where the former Sun Shipbuilding (Sun Shipbuilding brought high levels of LEAD to the city's waterfront area) was located, we need to ensure that our elected officials understand that we don't have to choose between pollution and prosperity. While I am currently not a member, please read more about the work of The Chester Environmental Partnership.
Zakee - How did you get involved in grassroots organizing and the Power Vote campaign?
Chris - I got involved with PowerVote after being awakened to the Environmental Justice movement through EJCC. I fashion myself an educator and am always interested in finding ways that we can connect student learning with social justice issues in order to promote the compassionate advancement of the next generation of leaders. There are already a number of young people out there doing wonderful things for their communities and pushing for justice in the way that we have created our energy policy that while quietly mentioned in the mainstream, disenfranchises communities and creates environmental burdens on top of the many social and economic prejudices they face.
Zakee - What advice would you give someone just getting involved in organizing?
Chris - Let's make sure that we are letting our voice be heard through this 2012 Election! Let's come together to clean up politics, break our addiction to dirty energy, and right the wrongs of the energy industry!
To learn more about how to get involved in Power Vote click here.