Alex Morris, senior editor
Registration for the second annual Power Shift conference in Washington, D.C. closed Wednesday Feb. 24 at midnight. Over 11,000 people registered, making the event the largest gathering of young people on climate and energy in U.S. history.
At least 28 of the registered activists were Warren Wilson students, all of whom are preparing to spend this weekend away from the bubble.
Power Shift begins Feb. 27, and during the next few days, youth from all over the country will converge to push the new presidential administration and Congress to pass comprehensive energy and climate legislation. It’s also an opportunity to connect with fellow organizers and build community.
“We will use every tool at our disposal and dramatically reduce carbon pollution while creating millions of green jobs. We will harness the vibrant energy of our youth, and starting this weekend, we will work tirelessly to ensure that President Obama has a far-reaching, just and bold climate policy sitting on his desk by the end of 2009,” said the Executive Director of Power Shift Jessy Tolkan in an email Wednesday about the upcoming conference.
Speakers at the event include Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Administrator, Lisa P. Jackson, and founder of Sustainable South Bronx, Majora Carter, who was the commencement speaker for Warren Wilson’s 2007 graduation ceremony. Other speakers include Van Jones, founder of the Green For All organization that promotes green jobs, Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards (D-Md.) and many more.
“Our window of opportunity is short,” Power Shift’s website reads. “The first months of the new administration are critical in achieving significant, lasting changes.”
With a packed agenda starting Friday at noon and ending with a lobby on Capitol Hill on Monday, students will have no trouble finding things to do.
Hip hop group The Roots and songwriter and producer Santigold will be performingin the evenings, and there will be many different workshops students can choose from topics including “dismantling oppression,” “corporate accountability” and “environmental justice.”
The Environmental Action Coalition held a Wrastlin’ Fest on Friday, Feb. 20 where students paid $3 for a barbecue dinner and $1 to wrestle each other. The proceeds from the event went towards transportation to D.C.
The coalition raised over $150, and at least eight cars will make the commute to D.C. this weekend.
“It was a good time for all folks,” said senior Jesse Duff-Woodruff of the wrestling. “I was sore all weekend.”
“I’m excited to see such a large number of people coming together for a cause,” said junior Robin Dhakal.
Dhakal is one of the many students in the College’s Environmental Action Coalition signed up to go.
Senior Nina Otter is speaking at one of the events on Sunday to represent the Environmental Leadership Center’s INSULATE program, an initiative working with local homeowners in Swannanoa to make their houses more energy efficient while getting to know people outside of campus. Otter attended the conference last year as well and is pumped for the weekend.
Sophomore Rachel Scarano is excited about going to Power Shift as well.
“I don’t have enough time to be as activisty as I would like to be [usually]” she said.
Stay tuned for a follow-up of Power Shift 2009. For more information, visit http://www.powershift09.org/.