Building Political Power

We're the Ones We've Been Waiting For

Day in and day out the energy at Power Shift HQ is growing. Deadlines are coming and going faster than we can imagine and, every time we look up, another day has come to an end and we're one step closer to Power Shift 2011. Each and every one of us is reeling with excitement about what's about to happen in just 21 days as we take part in the largest environmental organizing training in history.

It's amazing to see that this energy isn't just in our offices. Power Shift attendees are finding incredibly creative ways to share their stories, take action in their communities, and… to simply get here.

At last weekend's regional training events in the Northeast and California, organizers shared their stories about how they got involved in environmental activism.

Lessons from Fox News

December 4, 2015

I spent the last few weeks in relative hibernation, trying to look away as the right wing media warped and distorted my story and my experiences. I appeared on Fox News to discuss the Million Student March, a national day of action for free college that took place on 115 campuses nationwide. I have remained silent and silenced as the right-wing dust has settled, but in the past week I've seen the beautiful movements for justice take off in Minneapolis and Chicago. I've seen the horrors of right wing terrorism come into crisis.

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The sudden and decisive victory of a student anti-racist campaign that ousted the president and chancellor at the University of Missouri has swept the Mizzou campus into the national spotlight.

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By Kyle Butts, UC Santa Barbara

My name is Kyle Butts. I am an organizer at UC Santa Barbara, and I am a part of history. I don’t say that in a moment of hubris, but rather in recognition of the long story of activism on college campuses across the country. Being a student is my power. 

The last 50 years were filled with movements like the Civil Rights Movement, the Anti-war Movement, the Women's Movement, the Environmental Movement, the Latino Movement, the Counterculture Movement, and many more. These movements gained much of their momentum from solidarity on college campuses.


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As many movement spaces often do, the day began in a circle. One hundred young people – high school students, college students, and twenty-somethings – gathered around a huge parachute laid on the floor with big green letters reading ‘Leave it in the ground! Resist!’ It was early on a Friday morning, and people had traveled from as far as North Dakota, Michigan, and Ohio.

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This blog post was written by Vignesh Ramachandran, a student organizer with Divest Middlebury, on why he’s joining the Our Generation, Our Choice mobilization.

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768      This past Wednesday, I attended a KSEC rally at the Old State capitol in Frankfort. As a Kentuckian and an environmentalist, I felt an impetus to push my government to represent my interests and so drove the extra few miles from Danville alongside a couple peers. Having prior education regarding Senator Mitch McConnell's coal affiliations and interference with the implementation of Obama's Clean Power Plan, I was prepared for likeminded (and similarly angsty) teens standing around and...

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I’m not one to talk about the science of climate change. I assume that at this point everyone has decided to lean into the reality of climate science - or has chosen to disengage and hope that things get better on their own. But as a recap of what we know: climate change is happening now; it’s driven by our consumptive, wasteful lifestyles, and an addiction to fossil fuels; and, the fossil fuel industry has a both an incredible amount of power and an economic interest in our world holding on to our fossil fuel dependence.

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721 VA > Fossil Fuels. VA BOV (Board of Visitors), Who's Side Are You On?

The youth of Virginia are ready to turn up. They are ready to bring it squarely to the jaw of the fossil fuel polluters. I know this because 350 students showed up in Fredericksburg, Virginia last weekend for Virginia Power Shift 2015. They chose to spend their Valentine’s Day weekend rallying for Global Divestment Day & building a loving movement, and that is why I know we will win.

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Adapted from a Community Power blog post drafted by Lee Samelson with content by John Farrell.

For the last three years, Community Power has been working to secure community control over our energy utilities. In October 2014, we took a big step in the right direction by forming the nation's first clean energy partnership, giving our city direct decision-making power in our relationship with our monopoly energy utilities. The partnership met for the first time last Wednesday. Our community coalition, including neighborhood groups, environmental justice organizations, local economy think-tanks, and youth climate organizations, including Grand Aspirations, an Energy Action Coalition partner, are now working to form a robust community stakeholder group to hold the process accountable and are advancing a 10-point work plan for what we can achieve in Minneapolis in the next 2 years.

How did it happen and can it happen elsewhere, too?

Watch this You Tube Video of John Farrell with Institute for Local Self-Reliance taking part in a panel "What the City of Minneapolis Clean Energy Partnership Represents" Wednesday, November 5, 2014 at the MnSEIA conference in Bloomington, MN.

Click here to read more.

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