by Lindsey Berger, MO Beyond Coal Organizer, Sierra Student Coalition
When I graduated from college, I had dreams of moving to Portland and working for Focus the Nation. I had no intention of staying in Missouri… that is, until I got a call from a friend I met at COP15, Whit Jones. It’s hard to believe that I had to be convinced that the Sierra Student Coalition job he was (strongly) encouraging me to apply for would be a good fit. Little did I know at the time that this position was actually my dream job.
When I came onto this position as Missouri’s Campus Beyond Coal Organizer, there were a handful of students organizing on Mizzou and WashU’s campuses around coal issues. Since then, we have trained hundreds of students on 13 campuses in grassroots organizing. After successfully moving Missouri University of Science & Technology off of coal, Mizzou is the last remaining campus in the state burning coal… but not for long. Students are making huge strides with their university Board members, entering the committee planning and stakeholder engagement process to ensure a coal to clean energy transition. Missouri State University students are taking the Campus Beyond Coal campaigns to the next level, pushing for 100% clean electricity, and this in a state powered by 83% coal. Webster University is about to be the second campus in the country to divest from coal and more are sure to follow now that our state network has launched a campaign to move all Missouri universities to divest from fossil fuels.
Missouri youth are building the movement that is going to sustain this epic fight to stop the coal rush in Missouri. They are standing in solidarity with each other at Board meetings and rallying in their communities against coal ash. Youth are riling(working with?) up older generations and reminding them of the fights of their times, like civil rights and anti-war. These students are changing their majors and rerouting their career plans to adjust to their new-found passion for moving Missouri off coal and onto the renewable energy future that they know is possible. College grads who once planned to move to the mountainous northwest states and bustling northeast are now choosing to STAY in Missouri… and FIGHT!
After three years, today is my last day as a professional organizer in Missouri and tomorrow I pack my bags for a new journey in our Nation’s capitol. Although I’m leaving the Show Me State, I feel assured that Missouri’s energy future is brighter than ever before because of the outstanding student leaders holding down the fort. I know this because these student leaders are/have only grown stronger and more unified in spite of every challenge that good ol’ Missouri has thrown at them over the years. Thank you, all of you, for giving your all to fight for a just and sustainable energy future. Every direct action, every campus beyond coal victory, and every solar panel installed has added fuel to my fire over the years.
I have never had more pride in my home state or more confidence in the youth climate movement. This movement is established, resilient, and will continue to expand until Missouri moves beyond coal.
With MO <3 & PASSION,