Student activists travel to DC for Power Shift event
Students from the Hill joined 10,000 other young leaders at the biennial Power Shift conference held in Washington D.C. on the weekend of April 15-18.
Power Shift is an environmental activism conference meant to educate its participants about the pressing environmental issues facing the world today. A critical part of its mission is to empower young leaders to effect change in their own communities and to lead the way in the new energy revolution.
The College’s Environmental Coalition (EnviroCo) organized the trip down to Washington D.C., which was funded by the Student Government Association (SGA), Campus Life and the environmental studies department. The trip was open to all students on the Hill, regardless of major.
The conference included panels, workshops and documentary screenings. Participants were given the opportunity to attend sessions such as, “From the BP Oil Spill to the Japanese Nuclear Crisis: Why Capitalism is Killing the Planet,” “What Would Jesus/Moses/Buddha Drive? An Interfaith Discussion on Religious Environmental Activism” and “What To Do When The President’s Just Not That Into You.”
On Saturday, participants broke into groups according to their colleges and universities. “We established our goals as EnviroCo and discussed how we could potentially attain them,” Anna Hess ’14 said. “We also discussed the prospect of getting the greater Waterville community involved. It was really effective to have that time to truly collaborate as a group.”
Along with workshops and trainings, participants also attended a plenary, a panel featuring prominent speakers in the environmental sphere. Former Vice President and cofounder of Generation Investment Management Al Gore, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson and Director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign Mary Anne Hitt were just a few of the notable names. “Feeling the great energy of the crowd and witnessing how engaged all 10,000 participants were at the plenary was definitely my favorite moment,” co-president of EnviroCo Rachel Baron ’11 said.
On Sunday, participants formed “state breakout” groups, participated in Lobby Day training and got the opportunity to view the “Reel Power Film Series.” “It was great to discuss issues that were specifically relating to Maine, such as North Forest, agriculture and the environmental policies of Governor Paul LePage,” Hess said. “The film festival was also incredible…Film is such a great way to spark an interest in people…These films would be a great way to raise awareness back at Colby. Everyone should know about these issues, as they are truly universal,” she added.
Working to raise awareness of environmental concerns within their communities is just one of the goals of EnviroCo and the other Power Shift participants. EnviroCo is also looking to launch a letterwriting campaign for environmental legislation. “We really hope to bring some of our experiences at Power Shift back to the Colby community,” Baron said. “We are going to host a lunchtime talk about Power Shift and our experiences there, which will be open to all students to attend. The goal is to educate people and inspire new leaders.”
“As a senior who previously attended the conference in 2009, I was really excited to get a lot of underclassmen there,” Baron added. “I wanted to expose them to what I felt was such a powerful experience for me, and inspire them to take leadership roles here at Colby and beyond….We had great discussions about continuing on the momentum of Power Shift and effecting change.”