In a passionate keynote address, green jobs leader Van Jones exhorted the 10,000 youth climate activists at the Power Shift conference in Washington DC to "shift the power" and lead the clean power revolution. He argued that both parties need to be held accountable for their failures, and that activists must explain that the climate movement isn't just about "hippie power" but that it is a vision of liberty and justice for all.

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We are not alone.

April 16, 2011


This is an excerpt from a blog I just started,

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Today began the four-day event that is Power Shift, where "10,000 young leaders converge on Washington, DC to stand up for our future" as the website describes it. But Power Shift is so much more.

As an active member of the environmental movement I am in constant communication with other concerned folks, and yet I always have this feeling that we are few and far between. That has all changed. Thousands of youth environmentalists and activists filled the convention hall for the kick-off keynote address; the roar of applause and agreeing cheers during each of the speeches - speakers included Al Gore and Van Jones - was deafening in the most wonderful way. Never before had I felt less alone. Never before had I felt so confident in our ability to effect change.

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More than 100 youth and community members from the Gulf Coast are on their way to Washington D.C. today to bring a unified messaged to Congress and the President: the BP oil disaster is not over.

The occasion is Power Shift 201, a youth climate summit expected to attract 10,000, for four days of workshops, training, and action in front of the White House and on Capitol Hill.

The diverse contingent from the Gulf Coast includes BP oil spill clean-up workers; injured chemical workers from Texas; Vietnamese youth from the fishing community in Biloxi, Mississippi; historic African American communities that have faced environmental injustices issues for years; college students; a Gulf Coast mom who walked all the way to D.C. from New Orleans, and a FEMA trailer turned Gulf Coast billboard, dubbed the "Tarball Express."

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More than 100 youth and community members from the Gulf Coast are travelling to Washington DC on Friday to attend Power Shift 2011 to deliver a unified message: the BP oil disaster is not over. One year after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded, sending 11 men to a fiery grave, BP's crude and dispersants are still impacting the Gulf and its communities. Entire cultures and livelihoods are in peril, there is a growing health crisis, and BP's oil disaster is accelerating damage to the fragile coastal ecosystem. "Louisiana youth are awake," says Devin Martin, a graduate of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and Power Shift coordinator for the Louisiana Chapter of the Sierra Club:

Louisiana youth are awake. We know that our dependence on offshore drilling creates a dysfunctional democracy and is not an economic strategy for our future. From nuclear meltdowns to mountaintop removal coal mining to the ongoing disaster in the Gulf, we are constantly reminded of why young people are passionate to create a sustainable clean energy future and restore government to 'We the People'.

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On the eve of the Power Shift 2011 climate youth conference, no one expects President Obama to show. If he did, he'd probably get booed by activists angry about his tightening embrace of the oil, coal, gas, and nuclear industries. But it was a very different story two years ago at the last Power Shift, when 10,000 young, idealistic activists filled the Washington Convention Center screaming his name on the opening night of the conference, anticipating his arrival after tantalizing hints from White House staff that he would accept the invitation. After all, we were the ones who'd helped elect him, and he certainly wasn't one to pass up the chance to fire up so many young, idealistic activists to make the world a better place.

But what happened that night gave us a first inkling that the man we had elected on a promise to heal a "planet in peril" and mobilize the country in a race for clean energy was a very different person from the one who now sat in the Oval Office. The first, minor straw was when Obama didn't show, leaving everyone disappointed. But we all thought he probably had something more important or urgent to do. He was the President, after all.

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We hear a lot about green jobs these days. And that's certainly a good thing. We're going to need all hands on deck in the years to come to create the technologies and infrastructure to set our country on a sustainable path. Nonetheless, the term itself is something of an enigma. No one seems to know what a 'green job' looks like. Unless you're a technician who wants to get to work building wind turbines and solar panels, it seems like the promise of economic opportunity from clean energy development is a myth. I'm here to tell you that green jobs are a reality.

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When I was two years old, I was diagnosed with asthma. I’ve always had anywhere from one to seven different inhalers on me at any given time. I grew up thinking that everyone had asthma, and was shocked the moment I learned otherwise. It was that moment, the moment I realized that asthma was preventable, that without my neighborhood coal plant myself and others would breathe freely, that I became an activist.

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As the Campaign Coordinator of The Dirty Energy Money Campaign I am very excited to be come to Powershift and meet up with people who are sick and tried of the fossil fuel industry's stranglehold on climate and energy policy and want to do something about it!

Come join us on Saturday at 4:45 for a panel discussion on Dirty Energy Money:

and/or shoot me an e-mail if you want to meet at the conference to hear more about the campaign and how you can get involved.

See you all soon!

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Hey everyone!

I am so excited to attend Powershift - I have heard amazing things from friends who went to Powershift 2009 and I attended Powershift Canada in October 2009!

I was wondering if there will be many other Canadians at Powershift2011! Let me know!

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If there is one thing that our communities desperately need right now, it’s jobs.

Power Shift will bring thousands of dedicated, energetic youth into Washington, DC this weekend to strategize about solutions for a clean energy future—but what impact will they have had on the D.C. community? 

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