Over one hundred young people from across Minnesota joined YEA! MN and marched to the Capitol on Earth Day to show support for renewable energy and energy efficiency legislation. Participants then joined the Minnesota Clean Energy and Jobs Campaign Earth Day rally.

WHY MARCH TO THE CAPITOL?

Legislation can increase the use of renewable energy and encourage energy efficiency on a large scale. The legislation they lobbied for on Earth Day 2013 would increase the state’s Renewable Electricity Standard to 40 percent by 2030. It would also establish a solar standard of 10 percent by 2030 and a series of policies that would advance industrial energy efficiency initiatives. Working for state policy change allows individuals to have a broader impact than if they had simply changed their own energy usage.

Even though the voices of young people are very important in policy decisions that affect the next generation’s future, young people are still not well represented in the political process. In the 2008 election, only 48 percent of 18 to 24 year olds voted, in comparison to 67 percent of those age 30 and up. Encouraging political engagement from a young age—even before voting age—will help ensure better representation for young voters.

PROJECT STEPS

  1. Coordinate with a broader campaign:
    Because political actions are more effective with greater numbers, YEA! MN planned the Young People’s March to coincide with the Clean Energy Jobs Campaign’s Earth Day Rally. The march arrived at the Capitol building in time to join hundreds of other advocates to support the same legislation.
  2. Spread the word:
    • Posters: YEA! MN put up hundreds of posters in local schools and communities.
    • Social Media: The march was listed as a Facebook event that was frequently advertised on Facebook and Twitter.
    • School Outreach: YEA! MN used contacts at local schools to advertise the march to environmental clubs. They also reached a broader audience by working with the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group to advertise to college students.
  3. Plan the logistics:
    • Route: The route was planned as a fifteen-minute walk to the Capitol.
    • Parade Permit: YEA! MN applied for a parade permit through the police department.
    • March Marshals: Several YEA! MN members were responsible for keeping marchers on the sidewalk during the march.
    • Chant list: YEA! MN handed out copies of a list of chants to use during the march. Chants were pre-planned to focus on the message of the Clean Energy and Jobs Campaign. Here are some ideas from the People’s Climate March.
    • Buttons: To give march participants a unified look, YEA! MN borrowed a button maker from a local school to make matching buttons.
  4. Write a press release: Reach out to local TV news, radio reporters and newspapers. Here’s a sample press release.
  5. Keep people involved: Participating in the march let high school and college students participate in the political process when they might not otherwise be involved. For many students, a political action like the Young People’s March is a gateway into more involvement. Be sure to give them an invitation to show up at your next meeting or event.
  6. Celebrate your impact: The Clean Energy Jobs Campaign reported that the young people from the march energized the Earth Day Rally and brought the next generation’s perspective to the table. On May 23, 2013, Governor Dayton signed into law a solar energy standard of 1.5 percent by 2020 for investor-owned utilities and a statewide goal of reaching 10 percent by 2030. Both YEA! MN and the Clean Energy Jobs Campaign will continue working together to pass a stronger renewable energy standard.