A call for a ‘power shift’

Jennifer Speight
jennyns@goshen.edu

“Power shift! Power shift!” Cries of hope and fear filled the air on Monday as 3,000 college students, professors and environmentally conscious individuals rallied on the lawn of the Capitol, including nine Goshen College students and Paul Steury, education coordinator at Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center.

This gathering topped off a weekend of environmental and social justice education that took place at the annual Power Shift conference. Sessions at the 2009 conference included “Civil Rights, Hip Hop, and the New Eco-Equity Movement,” “Global Warming for Dummies” and “Achieving Environmental Justice through Economic Justice.”

Keynote speakers included Rocky Anderson, executive director for the High Road for Human Rights and former Salt Lake City mayor; Van Jones, founder and president of Green For All and fellow of the Center for American Progress; and Majora Carter, founder of Sustainable South Bronx, hailed as New York City’s most influential environmentalist and named one of the “25 Most Influential African-Americans” by Essence magazine as well as one of Newsweek magazine’s “25 to watch.”

Some environmentalists estimate that in the next 50 years more than half of all life will be extinct. We have a responsibility as human beings to save our home. We get one planet, and we have to start undoing and slowing the damage we’ve done to it.

Power Shift 2009 taught us that the time is now. Everyone has heard about the importance of a sustainable future, but without acting now, we may not have a future to sustain.

One part of Power Shift 2009 was the rally on Capitol Hill. Students also visited the senators of their home state. ALL 50 STATES were represented. The goal was to put climate change legislation at the foremost part of their minds and to let them know that the youth care.

The conference was 12,000 people strong, but those 12,000 people are certainly not the only ones who care about the environment. I encourage you, implore you, to do something about climate change.

We don’t have time to meander and pass it off as minor. We are the ones we have been waiting for.

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