February 23, 2016

Wisconsin Youth are Ready to #SpringForward!

Last weekend, I was fortunate enough to join people from all over the Midwest who came together in Milwaukee to protest the Alberta Clipper Pipeline before the Democratic debate. I didn’t really know what to expect, as it was the first action I had ever been to. I wasn’t disappointed by the energy everyone brought, even in spite of the cold, or by the way that people across movements came together to amplify each other’s voices. Unfortunately, we were all disappointed that environmental issues still did not surface during the debate. Which just means that it’s not time to let up.

805 Protesters in Milwaukee for the #ClipperIsTheNewKXL rally outside of February's Democratic Debate

That’s what the #SpringForward summits are all about: there’s been an incredible buildup of momentum, and a way to continue that buildup is by bringing students together from all corners of their states. Being able to be in the same space with other incredible leaders gives us the chance to more effectively collaborate and build power.

That Friday, the day after the rally, the #SpringForward Wisconsin summit took place in Milwaukee. I helped to plan the day as well as lead a visioning session for the first time with some amazing peers. Having the opportunity to plan and facilitate this session was exciting, and a lot of behind the scenes work. As has been said many times, strategy sessions are often considered the less glamorous end of activism, and even though planning, leading, and participating in them can be tiring, the results are inspiring.

806 Wisconsin youth and students building state power at the #SpringForward state strategy summit

At the #SpringForward Wisconsin summit, we talked about our visions for the world we wanted to see and how we can unite those visions to build power. People representing many different areas of the environmental and social justice movements contributed ideas and ways to change the world we currently live in to reflect the type of world we want to see. A world that is community focused and reconnected with empathy. A world where the default choices are pro-justice. A world with intersections between narratives and collaborative efforts and artful actions. A world where we unify our visions.

Then we brought our strategic planning skills into the space. We continued the day by creating a timeline of the coming year, strategizing around upcoming events and what platforms we can use effectively, and brainstorming for types of structures and networks that people want to create and engage with in Wisconsin.

When the end of the day rolled around, the group came away with several areas to focus on, including Tar Sands resistance, Democracy Spring, renewable energy campaigns like Re-volv and Seize the Grid, and more. We brainstormed ideas for network structure and how we will use it to collaborate with each other to create a united front of Wisconsin youth activists, and how we can plug into Midwest and National movements. In addition to solid action steps to take, I left with renewed energy and hope. Renewed energy from the love, support, and guidance I received from some amazing peers when I took part in planning and facilitating the day. From the ideas that people brought to the space. From seeing people actively move up into leadership positions. From meeting and working with people that are passionate about environmental and social justice and changing the world we live in to one that reflects the world we want to see.

System change is definitely some heavy lifting, but Wisconsin youth are ready to #SpringForward!

More #SpringForward strategy summits are coming up around the country. Click here to find out how to get connected to #SpringForward in your state!