If someone told me three years ago that I was going to intentionally risk arrest at a White House protest, I would have thought they were nuts.
Sure, I considered myself a progressive, and followed politics like some people read the sports section — but I pictured myself more in the jaded partisan hack mold than an activist (the fact that I was 22 with one cycle as a field organizer under my belt didn't really register at the time). Knocking on doors? Sure. Marching in the streets? Not really my style.
Power Shift 2009 (Photo Credit: Shadia Wood)
I can pinpoint the moment that all started to change. It was February 2009, and at my boss' suggestion I volunteered to help with technology at the Power Shift 09 conference. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but even in those days of Hope and Change, the energy of 12,000 young people in one building — united in their vision for a clean energy future — was a sight to behold. It clicked, this is what a movement looks like.
My first brush with the Youth Climate Movement was transformative, but while there were some powerful speeches from the likes of Van Jones and Bill McKibben, those weren't what sold me. The moment that sticks in my mind is hearing a deafening roar from the crowd as I walked up late to the main plenary, and entering the room to see that it wasn't The Roots on stage, it was Ken Salazar. Before that, I wasn't sure there were 12,000 young people in the country that could name the Secretary of the Interior, let alone be that excited to hear what he had to say.
That was a different time. We still believed that the President our generation helped elect would be a champion for the clean energy future our generation demands.