Two years ago I hopped on a plane to Washington, D.C. for my first solo travel excursion – and my first big step into the world of environmental activism. Approximately 10,000 young people from across the country were in attendance at Power Shift 2011, and while I felt jet-lagged and generally overwhelmed I was definitely excited for the jam-packed weekend of workshops, keynote speakers and general interactions/networking with other attendees.
In those four days of PowerShift I facilitated a state break-out discussion with students from Wyoming; participated in a flash mob rally at a BP gas station and downtown office (during which I fell on my face and broke my front tooth – but that’s another story); and met renowned author/activist Bill McKibben during a thousands-strong march to the US Chamber of Commerce and the headquarters of a few major fossil fuel companies.
As we marched we chanted so loudly that our voices reverberated off the towering office buildings around us, drawing those inside to the windows. I looked up and saw their faces fill with curiosity and amusement as they pointed and chatted with their co-workers about the colorful scene below.
At that moment I realized the full weight of our actions: by gathering en masse and taking collective, nonviolent action, we simultaneously confronted the destructive parties (BP and the like) and sparked an idea in the minds of the public. I’d never felt so empowered as I did when surrounded by my peers in the streets of our nation’s capital, where so many young activists before us had marched.
This was what it felt like to be a part of something bigger than myself – bigger than any of us. This was my movement, I’d decided – this was my opportunity to shape history, to be a part of something that could change the world.
In the two years since that life-changing event, I’ve facilitated trainings at grassroots organizing camps for Greenpeace and the Sierra Student Coalition; attended two UN climate negotiations (COP17 in South Africa and COP18 in Qatar); and worked with youth leaders from all corners of the globe. Last fall I had the privilege of facilitating trainings at Power Shift Canada, another eye-opening experience that only further emphasized how important this type of conference is to young people worldwide.
That’s why I’m asking today for your help in attending this year’s US Power Shift conference in Pittsburgh, PA. While there, I plan to facilitate a workshop on the UN climate negotiations; connect with youth from across the country; and build pressure for strong domestic climate policies and leadership. Above all, I hope to give another young leader the inspiration and empowerment I’d found at Power Shift.
By donating you will grant me the opportunity to share my many experiences and train the next wave of climate and social justice leaders. I hope you will support me in this endeavor to ensure a healthy planet for generations to come.