Campus Action & Sustainability

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.

By Eliza Sherpa & Sarah Arndt (Skidmore College)

In the following editorial, we attempt to apply the study of whiteness to environmental action. We assert first that American society maintains systems of racism and colonization that center and privilege whiteness while oppressing and marginalizing other identities. As a result, the U.S.-based environmental movement is implicated in a racial system. We believe the movement fails to adequately acknowledge or respond to the racialized nature of the politics and processes with which it engages. This failure manifests at multiple levels, including on our own college campus, Skidmore. While the environmental community on campus has attempted to foster an inclusive space and increase diversity, it has failed to do so largely due to misguided approaches. It is necessary for campus environmental activists to identify, examine, and change the ways in which our actions are influenced by racialized and colonizing economic and political systems. This begins with each of us as individuals learning and actively engaging in the constant process of becoming better allies.

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438 By Julia Ho, Emily Alves, Megan Odenthal, Jamal Sadrud-Din, and Georgia McCandlish

At 11am on Saturday morning, 5 student representatives from the sit-in against Peabody entered a conference room in Brookings Hall to meet with Chancellor Wrighton. Forty-five minutes later, we emerged from the meeting with an increased sense of resolve and passion to a crowd of 50 supporters.

The meeting, which occurred on Day 5 of the sit-in, came just a day after ‘Students Against Peabody’ publicly revealed their demands. In the meeting with Chancellor Wrighton, we articulated our demands: 1. Remove CEO Greg Boyce and Peabody from the Board of Trustees 2. The Chancellor must attend community-organized tours of Peabody extraction zones and issue a public statement about his experiences 3. Increased student voice on the board of trustees.

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Crossposted from Greenpeace's blog, the EnvironmentaLIST.

Students at Florida State University are telling Charles Koch to stop compromising academic integrity with multimillion dollar grants that come with strings attached.

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430 I’ve learned many things in my four years at Washington University in St. Louis--not all of them in the classroom. For example, before I became a student at Wash U, I had never heard of Peabody Energy, the world’s largest private sector coal corporation.

In St. Louis, Peabody ingratiates itself to the local community by posing as a benefactor of the arts, charitable corporate ‘citizen,’ and hero tackling “energy poverty.” It all sounds pretty good until you realize that Peabody Energy is the world’s largest private sector coal corporation whose business model propagates climate change and destroys communities. Peabody’s list of crimes is a veritable laundry list of social and environmental injustices: the destruction of mountains in West Virginia, the forced relocation of Navajo and Hopi Indian tribes in Black Mesa, Arizona, being a major supporter of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which have been strong advocates of controversial legislation like “Stand Your Ground” laws, the destruction of Rocky Branch, Illinois through aggressive mining and logging, and the distortion of democracy here in St. Louis by striking down a city-wide ballot initiative.

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334 The USF Power Shift team rallying to being an end to dirty coal! Florida carried the THIRD largest state convergence at PS 2013.

As an National Wildlife Federation (NWF) Campus Ecology Fellow at the University of South Florida in Tampa, my campaign aimed to bring the Divestment/Reinvestment Movement to the “Dirty South” in order to end the expansion of unjust and polluting energy utilities.  As all campaign do, mine grew and developed over time, and I realized that what my campus needed was the sound leadership skills and organizing training necessary for a long term and sustainable Divestment Campaign. I was a senior leader on campus and thought this would be a plausible and useful expenditure of my time.

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Crossposted on NRDC's Switchboard.

Last Friday night I went to the supermarket to buy several five gallon jugs of water. Being a longtime environmental advocate, it felt wrong to be buying bottled water.  But more than that, it felt strange to be buying water to meet the drinking needs of fellow Americans. Many assume that in the wealthiest country in the world, everyone has access to all of the potable water they could ever need. But that’s not necessarily true for many people living in shale country. The next day, I and 30 New York college students would be visiting Pennsylvania to see how fracking is threatening American communities and, more immediately, to deliver clean drinking water to people that have been living without it for some time.

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Carbon pollution is the main contributor to climate disruption, at high environmental and economic cost to Americans, and it is not going away. Last year alone, Americans spent over $140 billion as a result of devastating droughts, raging wildfires, tragic floods, record heat and powerful storms.

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Authored by Laura Mistretta, Duke University

136 On Monday, seven Duke students took a stand against Bank of America. We were quite the motley crew, half of whom had been recruited earlier that day. However, we all knew why we were there, ready to tell Bank of America to stop financing coal and climate change, and especially to stop investing in mountain top removal which destroys mountains and poisons people in Appalachia. It’s past time for Bank of America to invest in renewable energy that doesn’t jeopardize our collective future.

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The week of Powershift 2013 is finally upon us and UIUC Beyond Coal could not be more excited.  At 6:00 AM on Friday, 39 UIUC students and activists will embark on the 7-hour journey to Pittsburgh for the youth convergence. Powershift is not the only source of excitement within the campaign this semester though.

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