It has been a couple of whirlwind weeks for MSU Beyond Coal, and everyone on campus has been pushing for a 100% renewable energy future!
Last weekend we attended MidWest Powershift 2011, a Youth Activism Conference in Cleveland Ohio, and needless to say IT WAS AMAZING! Here’s a quick run down of what we did:
Friday: Arrived in Cleveland and listened to keynote speakers like:
Mansfield Frazier: life long Cleveland native, Urban Vineyard owner, and activist
David Cobb: 2004 Green Party Presidential candidate
Lois Gibbs: Leading activist in the battle for Love Canal, Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Health, Environment, and Justice.
Ethan Nuss: Field Director for the Energy Action Coalition
After these incredibly knowledgeable and motivational speakers, about 300 of the students in attendance followed David Cobb to Occupy Cleveland to stand in solidarity with the movement until it was brought to a close by the police. This was a phenomenal opportunity for students to see that our movement reaches beyond our campus, and as always, beyond coal. Its is hard to think of anything more motivational than marching, chanting and singing in complete solidarity with so many people.
Saturday: Sessions! SO MUCH KNOWLEDGE
Basically, sessions are specialized classes that we attended on environmental issues ranging from fracking for natural gas to listening to the tactics of other successful Campuses Beyond Coal campaigns. A more detailed description of what we learned, and what the MidWest thought of it, will be available shortly.
One really big highlight from Saturday is all the new friends we made! MSU was networking like CRAZY. We met so many students from all over the MidWest who not only were familiar with our campaign, but were ready to jump in the fray with us. This attitude is something that will not soon be forgotten. Eyes all over the MidWest are on this campaign! This is serious responsibility, and we refuse to take it lightly.
Before we left for PowerShift, 3 MSU Greenpeace members were arrested after a sit-in at President Simon’s office. This bold and powerful action launched a massive wave of momentum that we rode into AND out of Cleveland.
Saturday evening, we were invited to stand on stage with Phil Radford, the Executive Director of Greenpeace as he praised our work so far, and demanded that we never stop fighting. It was both humbling, and electrifying to receive this type of support. While on stage he also continued our newest campaign tactic, calling President Simon’s Office and leaving a personal message urging her to commit to directing a no coal goal for MSU. His message was one of hundreds that PowerShifters left for President Simon.
Sunday: Direct Action!
After a breakout focused on the environmental issues faced by our State, PowerShift mobilized! We marched around the city of Cleveland demonstrating against the Keystone XL Tar Sand pipeline that President Obama is due to authorize or deny this Friday, November 4th. Once again, Michigan State’s battle was highlighted in a stop in front of a local coal fired power plant. Much like Occupy Cleveland, the focus was on standing in solidarity, not only for the future of the planet (as if that’s not enough!) but for our lives right here, right now.