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Navigating Power Shift 2011

I never thought this blog post would get here! We are officially five days out until Power Shift 2011. SEN is hosting a conference call this Wednesday to prepare you and your friends for this epic conference.

Power Shift is going to be huge event, with over 10,000+ young people registered to attend this year. Energy Action Coalition has worked hard to design a conference that fits everyone’s needs and desires. Power Shift 2011 will have something for everyone, but I know what you are asking yourself: how can I make the most out of such a large, historical event?

To get you and your friends ready and pumped for Power Shift 2011, SEN is hosting a Navigate Power Shift conference call this Wednesday!

How to Navigate Power Shift 2011 Conference Call

Wednesday, April 13 – 8:00 PM EST / 7:00 PM CST

  • Overview of the Power Shift agenda
  • Tips for how to divide and conquer within your campus or community group
  • The skinny on important details not found on the Power Shift 2011 website
  • And more!

RSVP here on Facebook. Invite all of your friends from your campus or community group!

Power Shift is going to be an amazing event. Everyone has worked so hard in preparing to attend – now, let us help you be as strategic as possible when you walk through the door of the convention center.

After months of supporting youth leaders across the Southeast to recruit, train, and arrange logistics, the Southern Energy Network is ready to represent. We have youth coming from every Southeastern state. Everyone is excited and ready to shift the power!

We wanted to give three highlights from the field to show how many people are truly ready to shift the power.

  • Our good friends in Alabama will increase their Power Shift attendance nearly 200% from 2009.
  • Florida students will be crowned the fundraising kings, collectively raising over $44,000.
  • In Georgia the Atlanta University Center, made up of Spelman, Morehouse, and Clark Atlanta University will be bringing a charter bus with almost 60 students.

These are only three highlights; youth all across the South have worked hard to achieve some phenomenal Power Shift 2011 success stories. If we were able to achieve this much only to prepare for the conference, imagine what we will be capable of once we come back home from Power Shift 2011. We will be energized and empowered to return to our campus and communities to take action and cause a nationwide power shift.

Join us for the Navigate Power Shift conference call this Wednesday, April 13 at 8:00 PM EST / 7:00 PM CST, RSVP here on Facebook!



April 11, 2011 at 2:40 pm Leave a comment

Join us at the Powershift 2011 conference in DC!

On April 15th – 18th, I will be surrounded by over 10,000 young climate activists in Washington D.C.  Power Shift 2011 is going down, and, just like the two previous Power Shift conferences, this year promises to be historic.  But before you attend this historic event you need to make sure you and as many young people as possible are registered. On Monday March 28th, the registration fee jumps from $65 – $80 for students and youth.  We want the grassroots community to get to Power Shift as cheaply as possible. So, make sure you register by Sunday, March 27th, 11:59pm.

To give you a quick taste, here are a few people who will be there: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson; Former Vice President Al Gore; Green Jobs Guru Van Jones; and founder of, premier climate activist and writer Bill McKibben.  This in addition to the Art Fair, Jobs and Organization Fair, grassroots training supported by the New Organizing Institute, D.C. energy efficiency canvass, state break outs, toxic tours, lobbying, rallying, live music, and much more are sure to make Power Shift 2011 the best one yet!

This year’s Power Shift could not be happening at a more important time.  The progressive front is in a frenzy.  Young people are leading peaceful revolutions in the Middle East, states like Ohio and Wisconsin are rallying for workers rights, and most importantly our clean air and water is under attack.  Currently three bills in Congress target our beloved and much needed EPA, one bill calls for slashing the EPA budget to smithereens. The other two would reverse a Supreme Court order that gives the EPA authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, which are causing global warming.

For young people who envision an economy built by green jobs and powered by clean, safe, renewable energy, Power Shift 2011 is our moment. We can no longer sit back and allow our air and water to be polluted by large corporations. We can no longer sit back and let companies like the Koch Industries buy our decision makers’ votes. Power Shift 2011 will unite the progressive grassroots community. We will come together to draw a line in the sand and take back what is ours: a government that represents people, not polluters.

I am so excited to be working with young people across the Southeast. For a year and a half I have organized student voices with Southern Energy Network and Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. I am more energized than ever about the unbridled enthusiasm I’m seeing from young people all over the country for Power Shift 2011 and I know the south will be well represented.

To give you a few highlights, Florida already has four charter buses lined up; students at the University of Georgia got their school to fully sponsor 10 students; Alabama is using Power Shift to unite, grow, and solidify their state network; Clemson University in South Carolina is on the verge of confirming 30 students; and youth in Tennessee plan on bringing a veggie-powered bus to the conference.

Make sure you join the southern forces at Power Shift 2011 and register before the regular registration period ends this Sunday at 11:59pm! Power Shift will change your life.   I do this work because of Power Shift 2007. You don’t want to miss this historic moment when we will come together to let our governmental leaders and the dirty corporations know we will no longer sit back and watch our world burn.

March 24, 2011 at 7:20 pm 1 comment

Southeast Power Shift Recruitment Kick-Off Call a Success!

Last Wednesday we hosted the first of many bi-weekly Power Shift 2011 Southeast Training Calls. Young people from across the South (South Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, Alabama, and Florida) jumped on the call to feel the regional solidarity and excitement around going to Power Shift 2011!

On the call we emphasized the date change: Power Shift 2011 will be happening April 15th – 18th in Washington D.C. at the Convention Center. We also started the conversation off with our top three tips of what you should be doing in your community and/or campus.

1.       Build a core group and Sign up as Campus Coordinators!– try and get at least four people so you can divide and conquer housing, fundraising, recruiting and travel!

2.       Set goals – How many people do you want to bring and how much money will you raise?

3.       Start building the buzz with Facebook events, posting flyers on campus, and  holding kick-off meetings!

We realize one of the biggest barriers to getting tons of folks to Power Shift 2011 is money, which is why we wanted to start the bi-weekly call series with a fundraising training! To help us all, our Development Assistant, Kelsea Norris, was kind enough to join us and give everyone some really strong tips and best practices around fundraising.

Kelsea’s top 5 quick tips:

1.       Think big and move beyond the bake sale: There are many “out of the box” ways to raise large sums of money! Student Government, Local Businesses or Organizations, and restaurant or bar percentage deals.
2.       Just ASK, and ASK EVERYONE: if you don’t try, then you’ll never get anywhere.
3.       Create a budget and a plan with goals.
4.       Get Creative: use to ask friends and family for support!
5.       Use the EAC Fundraising toolkit:

After Kelsea gave us her amazing training, a student from the University of Alabama, Adelaide Abele, told her personal success around raising $3,000+ for other environmental initiatives and events in the past. Her pointers include:

  • Try to connect with the people/group – personalize your ask.
  • Because of time crunch; shoot for the big groups and big donors!
  • Don’t write people off because you assume they are not interested.
  • Follow-up, follow-up, ALWAYS FOLLOW-UP!
  • It’s scarier, but more lucrative to meet with someone face-to-face.

To finish up the call we asked youth from across the South to give us some ideas of what they are going to do to raise funds for Power Shift 2011. Here are some of the great ideas:

  • Build a fake jail: Get professors, community members, students and/or administrators to commit to sit in a fake jail until their bail is met.
  • Sports tournaments
  • Asking local non-profits for sponsorship, like the local Sierra Club and Audubon chapters.
  • Garage sales: Getting stuff donated and then sell it at a fundraising sale!
  • Singles Auction: a great opportunity for coalition building! Think through influential groups like athletics, Greek life, or Student Government.
  • Work with local businesses: bars, restaurants, clubs, etc.
  • Student Government funds

If you missed this call, don’t worry! We will host these calls every other Wednesday with a different training each call! Every call is designed to give you the skills and confidence you need to rock Power Shift. Our next call is February 9th at 8:00PM ET. We will be focusing on recruitment, so you’ll have the skills to get a ton of folks on your campus or in your community excited and registered for Power Shift. Look out for the next Facebook event!

February 1, 2011 at 7:57 pm Leave a comment

USF Moves Closer to Passing a Student Green Energy Fund on their Campus

USF Students score a big victory for the Student Green Energy Fund Campaign!

Yesterday the University of South Florida’s (USF) Board of Trustees voted to approve a Student Green Energy Fund (SGEF) for USF. The SGEF is, in short, a maximum fee of $1.00 per credit hour that would fund renewable energy and energy efficiency projects on campus. On the Tampa campus alone this would generate approximately $1,000,000 dollars annually, and all of the money must be spent on energy saving measures or clean energy on campus.

From here, the SGEF proposal for USF moves onto the Board of Governors where, if passed, students will be able to vote in the Spring on whether to enact this fee. The fee would then take effect in the fall. This would make USF, a school generally lacking in sustainability, one of the first Universities in Florida with a SGEF!

The SGEF is really the campaign from which the youth climate movement began for Florida, and it is very close to my heart. The need for a state network became apparent to Florida youth while working on the SGEF campaign, starting in 2007. With a state network, after we won the SGEF campaign, we would still work together to conquer other pressing issues in the area. Now, thanks in large part to this campaign, Florida has an active state network, called the FL YES Coalition, which connects campuses across the state to tackle other pressing environmental issues.

Running a campaign from beginning to end has been a good experience for me. I am a senior at USF, and when I graduate I want to be able to say that while I was here, I took part in something meaningful that will tangibly affect the lives of future students at USF. The past couple of years have been trying for our movement. There was not a meaningful international agreement at Copenhagen, and the U.S. has still not passed legislation to address climate change. This has weighed heavily on me and caused me to question the possibility of us affecting change at all. However, the Student Green Energy Fund has made me realize that there is still a great amount of power in organizing.

Change is possible right now: the key is to focus on things that you can directly affect on a local scale. Winning these smaller scale campaigns helps us build our movement so that one day, our legislators and public officials will look around and realize that they are the only ones left refusing to switch over to a clean energy economy and address climate change.  And although they refused to listen to us, we continued on without them.

While passing the SGEF at USF is a local initiative, it has the potential to have rippling effects throughout the state. Students attending a school that invests in clean energy and efficiency will participate in a culture of sustainability, and they will be better prepared for the future marketplace of clean energy jobs. The University is meant to be a window into the future for how our society will function. For Florida to have all of its major universities invest in clean energy sends a clear signal to legislators that it is time to catch up with the youth of America and make investments for our future.

– Karissa Gerhke is a Senior at the University of South Florida, President of the Students Environmental Association and an active member of the FL YES Coalition.

December 17, 2010 at 7:46 pm Leave a comment

Obama Reverses Drilling Plans

On March 31st 2009 President Obama addressed the country announcing his administration’s plan to increase America’s dependence on archaic, dirty and unsafe oil. The administration announced they would open offshore oil and gas exploration along the Atlantic coast line and eastern gulf.

The day of the announcement, the youth climate movement, including hundreds of young people in the South, was disappointed in the Administration’s step backwards.  Instead of moving towards a clean energy economy and addressing the climate crisis as promised on the campaign trail, the Obama administration was caving to dirty energy corporate interests, and climate science denier’s lies.

The Obama Administration was failing to listen to young people — the very voting block that carried him to victory in his historical presidential election.

Nineteen days later the worst environmental disaster in US history hit the Gulf Coast ecosystem and economy with devastating and irreversible impacts.  The BP offshore oil disaster hit just as the Obama Administration felt comfortable in talking about the “safety” of offshore oilrigs.

The youth climate movement could have easily said “I told you so,” instead we fought back. We encouraged an immediate ban on new offshore oil drilling (we were given a mere six months), we demanded that Congress investigate BP and hold the company accountable for their disaster. We donated pounds of hair helping to construct miles of hair boom, and we met with local, state, and national decision makers calling on them for climate and clean energy action NOW! Even after six months we continued to address the issue by holding 10/20 days of action, like this one Tyler Offerman and students at FGCU held.

Eight months after making his original announcement to open our coast to risky offshore oil drilling President Obama’s Administration reversed their decision, citing the BP oil disaster as the reason to be more cautious and aware of our decisions. The administration is now calling for a seven year ban.

Some climate activist are seeing this as a victory and are celebrating, calling on the grassroots community to thank the Administration for their recent announcement.  Although this is a good FIRST step, and I am thankful, I still feel this is the Obama’s Administration attempt to keep the youth climate movement pleased, a decision that will hold us over until the next election, a decision that allows President Obama to stand up and say “I banned offshore oil drilling for 7 years – vote for me in 2012”.

As an active member in the youth climate movement, I am fed up and although this might be a “win” for some, for me – this is not enough. With the UN negotiations around the global climate crisis in Cancun happening over the next two weeks, the United States does not have time to “lead” with small incremental steps such as a seven year ban. If we want to emerge on top, leading the new clean energy global economy and the global fight against the climate crisis, we need large monumental steps such as a permanent ban on new offshore oil drilling for our entire coast. We need the leadership President Obama promised on his campaign trail!

December 3, 2010 at 4:07 pm Leave a comment

Written by Bill McKibben, Cross-posted from

I really really don’t want to write this.

Because all I want to do is sit here searching through the thousands upon thousands of photos that are still streaming in from yesterday’s Global Work Party. With 7300-odd work parties in 188 countries , it was the most widespread day of political engagement in the planet’s history, and a real chance for people across the world to say the same thing: We’re fed up with the inaction of our leaders on climate, and we want them to work half as hard as we’re working. Now!

But that’s from the macro level. One by one, the pictures just tell profound and beautiful stories of people taking the future into their hands. Some are poignant: street children in Rawalpindi Pakistan, flooded out of meager homes by this August’s deluge; or slum dwellers in Bangladesh, standing ankle deep in the water for their work party even as new record storms drove half a million from their homes. Others are exuberant–bike activists in Auckland fixing hundreds of cycles for free (and paying for parts by running a pedal-powered smoothie maker).

And perhaps the best are the ones that, by random juxtaposition on the Flickr flood of images, tell stories that need telling. We got a picture of young men in Afghanistan planting lots of trees in the valleys around Kabul–imagining a country beyond war. And a few minutes later a picture of a scout troop from the coal state of West Virginia who spent the day earning energy education merit badges, looking not so very different from their Afghani counterparts.

When it comes to climate change, the world is united in two ways.

One of them’s bad: around the the planet, the fossil fuel industry has managed to squelch the necessary transition away from coal, gas and oil. That’s why we have to build a movement big enough to matter. We’re not going to beat Exxon Mobil with money; if we beat them it will be with passion, spirit, creativity. With bodies.

The other is good, awfully good: everywhere there are people ready to picture a possible future and then go to work to make it real. They’re in the northernmost cities on the planet, up there in Iceland; they’re in the southernmost cities, down there in Argentina. Most of them, to judge by the pictures, don’t look like our stereotype of environmentalists: they’re poor, they’re black and brown and Asian, they’re young. They look like the world.

It makes sense that this would be the most widespread day of civic action ever–in climate change we face the first truly worldwide problem. They don’t call it global warming for nothing. But these pictures show the flipside: they’re globally heartwarming.

Follow Bill McKibben on Twitter:

October 11, 2010 at 7:26 pm 1 comment

Florida Students react to BP Offshore Oil Drilling Disaster

Two days before Earth Day last week I found myself at Eckerd College surrounded by students excited about a clean energy future, specifically a future without offshore oil drilling. Photo petitions were proudly taken! Students were excited to put on green hard hats, scream into a megaphone and hold signs that discouraged offshore oil drilling and instead encouraged solar in the Sunshine State.

Little did we know of that as we talked with folks and took photos the worst environmental disaster in our nation’s history to date was exploding in the Gulf of Mexico.

The BP offshore oil drilling disaster adds fuel to the fire, and no I am not talking about the fire lit by the coastguard in attempts to control the spill. I am talking about the fire that lies within Florida youth.  Florida youth love their state’s coasts. They also realize their state’s economy thrives off of tourism. More than ever Florida youth and youth across the South are ready to put an end to offshore oil drilling as they plan for the up and coming fall election campaign.

Leaders from across the South will be attending the Energy Action Coalition’s Fall Training learning how to engage clean energy voters and make a clean, safe energy future a top priority in the fall. They will specifically work around offshore oil drilling and emphasize the devastating consequences that come with this “fuelish” practice.

The impacts of the drilling disaster have driven several Florida politicians to re-examine their position on offshore drilling.  After a helicopter ride to view the spill, current Florida Governor Charlie Crist has switched his stance saying good bye to offshore oil drilling in Florida.  However, even with this horrific disaster taking place other Florida leaders are failing to realize the negative implications that come with a fossil fuel based future.

The disaster is impacting more than individuals; entire counties are declaring states of emergency along the Florida coast. As the spill grows and inches closer and closer to Florida’s pristine shores, groups are mobilizing to attempt to reduce the severity of the impacts.

Now more than ever our generation and our region must come together to respond to yet another crisis.

The Southern Energy Network is pulling together an emergency strategy call to bring youth climate activists across the South together to share information and to begin developing plans to not only clean up, but to protect our coast and the future of our region.

May 5, 2010 at 2:56 pm Leave a comment

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