August 8, 2011

Thinking about Powershift

Late crosspost from

This is a late post and a short one, which I'm bummed about. I am hoping, though, to get back into the swing of blogging for my remaining five [one] weeks of summer before I head off to the woods. 

I never got around to writing about the later parts of Monday, and the march from Lafayette Park to the Capitol, so I'll sum that up quickly: even with a huge chunk of the group staying behind to head over to the US Chamber of Commerce and other locations, the march was enormous. We had a police escort who kindly shut down the street for us (thanks to all the amazing organizers). The energy was incredible. I was exhausted, running almost entirely on my Venti Starbucks (hooray, caffeine!!), but in the midst of so many thousand others, I forgot about that. I found new lung power, joined in the chants, thrust my fist in the air, and joined in the collective energy of the people around me. I've never before experienced something quite so united. St. Lawrence University is small (~2300)... I was surrounded by more people than the number enrolled at my alma mater. I have attended arena rock concerts and enormous ski races, but the Powershift march on the Capitol was different. It was thrilling but surreal. I felt (as almost all of us did) that I was part of something historic, that our movement has power, as we marched down the streets, yelled or sang even louder at the passing of tour busses or as we passed corporate buildings.

My afternoon was a less relevant adventure (I opted to lobby for Colorado instead of New York State, having met Senator Mark Udall last summer, and ended up walking across the center of DC- through Chinatown- in business clothes and heels to get back to my bus), so I'm skipping the narrative details to talk about what has happened since.

I'll dedicate a different post to the Pass the CAP (Climate Action Plan) movement at St. Lawrence, because it deserves in-depth detail on its own.

Powershifters know how little press coverage we got. Last week, July 3rd, I was at a friend's house, and somehow the conversation turned to the environment and to energy sources. I happened to be wearing my Powershift 2011 t-shirt...and (hmmm, wonder why) feel moderately knowledgeable in discussing energy and environmental issues. My friend's father, after hearing about the march, said "Wow...sounds like the 60s!! Were you on the news?" and received my frustrated answer. Her boyfriend then continued to ask about the organizational details, clearly disappointed he hadn't known or been able to participate.

A week previous to that, I caught up with a different friend on a group camping trip. He attends University of Puget Sound, and dropped out of attending Powershift at the last minute, but we were able to discuss the issues in a way I haven't be able to with many of my friends from home. He also told me all about how one of his courses investigated and evaluated Cargill's policies for effiency and environmental impact.

Those fighting are out there. I was ecstatic when I saw the updates about the flash-mobbers at Bonnaroo. That said, we still need to do more. Maybe in 2013, 15,000-20,000+ young people will finally force their way on to AC360 or other news outlets. I am hoping that perhaps my high school (the Aspen Skiers) will send a group.

In the meantime, I'm sending positive thoughts toward those more active activists, reading and loving The Monkey Wrench Gang, Omnivore's Dilemma, and Walden, and relishing the fresh local summer food.