Power Shift West '09

Power Shift West 2009 is a conference campaign and this year its focuses included energy issues, climate change, and the Senate Committee Climate Bill for Copenhagen negotiations December 2009. The bigger picture that Power Shift paints is to educate, motivate, and organize young people in the United States. It works to bring together young leaders to discuss pressing issues, to share ideas, knowledge, and send them back to their own communities to be stronger leaders and organizers. Power Shift focuses on bottom up approaches to local community solutions.

A few of the organizations that hosted and supported this conference were Sierra Student Coalition, Energy Action Coalition, and the Earth Island Institute. It consisted of panels, workshops, and breakout group sessions. Panels addressed issues such as climate justice, energy efficiency, and renewable energy. Panels of guest speakers from a variety of fields briefly discussed their issues and then open the floor to question and answer sessions. I learned some easy ways to conserve energy such as plugging out appliances when not in use and using a power strip and turn it off to cut the flow of electricity. I also learned about toxic affects of coal on human health and the environment and mountain top removal in Appalachia which carries environmental justice issues, along with other social and political components to coal mining and their communities. There was even a panel speaker, Emily Farenbacher, from Sierra Club in Anchorage Alaska, who discussed energy, coal, and climate change in Alaska.

In workshops students had the opportunity to gain new skills and understanding on a variety of topics which they could hopefully use back at home. Some topics were campaign planning, coalition building, fundraising, and other organizational and leadership skills. There were all levels of activists at the conference which provided an opportunity to work among student peers to share knowledge and ideas between campuses.

A few of the Keynote speakers included Rikki Ott, an activist and author of Sound Truth and Corporate Myth: The Legacy of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill. Another keynote speaker was Dan Carol, he served as the Content and Issues Director in Chicago for the Obama Campaign. Formerly, Carol was an environmental and energy budget analyst at the Congressional Budget Office.

At the end of the conference students had breakout sessions where we gathered by region to discuss issues specific to our areas. Then we worked together to design an action plan to try and begin to address issues which affect our home state. The conference ended with a parade of solutions where students rode bicycles, dressed as polar bears, and carried windmills and banners.

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