Throughout college, I have been deeply engrossed within the youth movement, as an activist for climate justice. I have played a leadership role in helping to establish the Michigan Student Sustainability Coalition, organized a youth lobby day at the state capital, arranged the logistics for sending Michigan State University students to Powershift 2007, and assisted with several retreats and summits pertaining to youth climate movements. During these efforts, the majority of my partners have been college age peers.More recently, my current employment has been as Michigan Campaigns Coordinator for Clean Water Action. Through this work, I engage our members and the general Michigan public on taking action on a variety of issues ranging from promoting renewable energy legislation to promoting environmental health safety standards. The online and field actions from our members stretches across a broad constituency of residents, where age is not a factor.
This weekend’s Conference of Youth, a precursor to the UN Climate Conference, has emulated the modeled the strengths of the youths talents within organizing. One particular workshop I attended was a sub-group breakout out of the US breakout group. We’ve established amongst ourselves that reaching out and connecting with our networks back home to specific outbreaking news and relevant ways to react is just as important as us being at the actual conference. Within the group we discussed strategic planning for messaging our outreach to our communities through strategic rapid response. While the conversation originated just at stretching the messaging back to youth in the US , we realized that our contingency is actually much larger and age diverse.
Immediately following that strategy session, I got to sit in on a USCAN meeting, a larger collection of US NGOs attending the conference. I was impressed to learn that their tactics practically mirrored the strategy of the youth- by engaging larger networks in the US to take action on particular issue. Being a part of back to back discussions on the same topic reinstated the fact the activism truly is transgererational.
The UN Climate Change Conference COP 15 will offer innumerable chances for many to connect the policy towards relevant legislative domestic campaigns at home. Some of these will be directed towards specific US strategy, and others sending a message to our entire world leadership. While I am representing the youth constituency, I encourage people of all ages to continue to practice civic duty, and take specific actions articulating to our leaders our expectations from our leadership. For starters, why not sign a global petition stating, “I am ready for our leaders to sign a global climate deal in Copenhagen that is ambitious, fair and binding.” Whether it will be your first experience taking action, or your thousandth, there will be plentiful opportunities to get involved. Stay tuned for more local ways to stay engaged at home!