Power Shift changed my life
Power Shift changed my life
In 2007, I was one of 6,000 students who participated in Power Shift, the largest youth climate conference in the history of the world. Thinking back on it now, I'm feeling rather nostalgic because Power Shift undeniably changed my life.
I know that just reading or hearing about Power Shift may feel a little underwhelming. I felt that way at first, too.
In summer 2007, I attended SPROG, the Sierra Student Coalition's summer training program for student environmental organizers. At this point the wheels for Power Shift were already in motion, so our trainers rather emphatically encouraged us to attend. It sounded cool, and I was excited for the chance to see my Sprog friends again.
I didn't really comprehend the enormity of what was about to happen. I attend the University of Maryland, which hosted Power Shift last year, so unlike my peers all across America, I didn't have to raise money for lodging, food, and travel. I just had to roll out of bed and walk a few buildings over, so it didn't seem like such a big deal. Also, although I had been to student conferences before and always learned a lot, nothing was ever jaw-droppingly impressive. I assumed Power Shift would be the same.
I was wrong!
The day that registration began, my campus was flooded with people within a matter of hours. The sights that were so familiar to me - the sidewalks, the student union, the mall (our "quad" or "green") - were transformed by the presence of SIX THOUSAND new faces. For an entire weekend I couldn't go anywhere without seeing a group of Power Shift attendees eating lunch together on the grass, playing music or tossing a frisbee between sessions, or just gathering in groups to continue earlier conversations from workshops and panels. I couldn't even walk across my apartment because the number of people sleeping on my floor magically multiplied. It was like the start of some bad joke, "How do you squeeze 10 environmentalists into one tiny little student apartment?"
Although on some level I'm sure I knew there were student activists all across the country building the climate movement, I didn't really understand this until I could actually physically see them surrounding me. The business of social change can often feel lonely or isolating, but I felt so inspired and energized that there were thousands of people just like me, who understood climate change as the greatest social justice issue of our time and who were ready to rise to the challenge! It was like a four-day injection of hope and possibility. I could feel the energy bubbling all around me!
As an activist I had dabbled in all sorts of issues, but the "we're all in this together" mentality of Power Shift cemented my passion for environmental justice and my commitment to fighting climate change.
This year, Power Shift is going to be even bigger and better! We're expecting 10,000 people, and when I say people I mean everyone--not just students. We got the ball rolling in 2007, and now we have to keep building the momentum for change, especially now, with a new administration in place and a plethora of new avenues to make a difference.
I think these four days are going to be a million times more amazing, more inspiring, and more empowering than any of us can imagine. So if you haven't already, register now and start making your way to DC!