Power Shift 2009 Conference
February 27 – March 2, 2009
Tufts Attendees: Adam Fischer, Maria King, Sally Sharrow, Odin Hillery, Sarabeth Buckley, Carole Lemos-Wade, Josh Friedmann, Alice Graff, Courtney Pittenger, Matthew Repka, Matthew McGowen, Jessica Oh, Brittany Wright, Ian Maclellan, Erin Taylor, Sadie Lansdale, Greg Hering, Sharon Cho, Lindsey Kirchoff, Dan Richards
Photo by Ian MacLellan
Power Shift 2009 was a monumental, four-day conference in Washington, DC that united 12,000 students and young adults from across the nation. The purpose of the event was to engage students in the climate change movement and highlight the importance of creating sound, responsible policies focusing on clean energy and green jobs. Students from all 50 states – from different backgrounds and educations and mindsets – came together to discuss one of today’s most pressing challenges and explore how we can prompt legislators to take action that will prevent climate change from accelerating.
A delegation of 20 undergraduate students from Tufts attended Power Shift with the help of the Tufts Institute for the Environment and the TCU Senate. For four days, these students were able to work with one another and other young adults to learn about climate change. A combination of panels, workshops, keynotes, career fairs and lobbying allowed us to supplement knowledge we had, learn about subjects with which we were previously unfamiliar and explore the intricacies of the challenges we face.
Attendees had the opportunity to hear expert panelists and become involved with interactive workshops. The topics of these sessions included clean energy technology and policy, climate justice, green jobs, building a student movement, public speaking, leadership training, the science of global warming, the future of international climate policy and much, much more. Students were able to hear presentations by experts from industry, politics and academia as well as other students who have been involved in the climate change movement. Career and graduate fairs let us explore the many different sectors across which people can become help safeguard our planet. These fairs provided for excellent networking opportunities and introduced the group to the expansiveness of the climate change movement.
The keynote addresses, delivered Friday and Saturday nights, were truly inspiring. The actual leaders who stand at the forefront of the "green" movement gave phenomenal speeches that engaged a crowd of 12,000 people. Keynotes included Van Jones (creator of Green for All and now White House Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation), EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Bill McKibben, Tufts alum Adam Gardner from the band Guster, former Mayor of Salt Lake City Rocky Anderson, and several others. Most notably, we heard from and met with Congressman Edward Markey – Medford’s very own representative. Representative Markey is the Chairman of the House Committee on Global Warming and Energy Independence. In addition to hearing his keynote address, eight Tufts students met with Rep. Markey face-to-face to express our gratitude for his devotion to fighting climate change. On the final day of the event, students rallied on Capitol Hill and met one-on-one with their representatives to reiterate the importance of legislating policies focused on climate change and clean energy. We were able to speak directly with the people who make the decisions and hear where they stood on the issues.
Power Shift was an uplifting experience that represented the passion and motivation of our generation. But it also showed us that the conference was just the beginning. From the event, we all took home the message that our actions on campus and in our communities would determine the future of climate legislation. By communicating with our Congressional representatives and engaging our communities in the issues, real change can be made. Here at Tufts, we are planning to organize a coalition of students and groups that will be able to unite the campus around issues pertaining to climate change, energy, and the environment. We hope to spark an ongoing conversation that turns into action. By uniting campus constituencies, we can remind students how important their commitment to the climate change movement really is.