Posts filed under ‘northcarolina’

North Carolina Primary Election: An Important Political Moment for Our Generation

I haven’t had much of an appetite lately… With the oil spill in the Gulf Coast, confirmed reports of bio-diversities continued global decline, and another delay in adoption of a National Climate Policy,  my stomaches been in knots. Fortunately, I’ve been able to keep myself from sulking, and have found some inspiration through a critical political moment.

The North Carolina Primary Election kicks off tomorrow (Tuesday May 4th). Turnout for mid-term primaries is historically low, with young people being in the lowest turnout percentage. Regardless, with everything going on in the world, I feel compelled to do my part to flip that trend in 2010! I realized more than ever that we are the ones we’ve been waiting for and we will be the ones to define this decade.. Therefore it is up to us what the future looks like.

Polls are open from 7:30a.m – 6:30p.m. To find your polling place CLICK HERE

Here are 4 reasons you need to cast your vote this mid-term election

  1. Almost every ecosystem and resource on the planet is in a state of decline
  2. We’ve got to change the political tides and we need the strongest leadership to do that
  3. Your voice counts and now is not the time to be silent.
  4. Turnout in Mid-term elections is low, that means, as young people, we can have a HUGE impact!!
  5. Because they are just as important, if not more so, as Presidential Elections.

Please share this Facebook link with your networks to get others to vote this Mid-term Election.

Vote and Voter Early!


May 3, 2010 at 10:32 pm Leave a comment

Inside COP15: Where are We Now?

cross-posted on

I have been in Copenhagen for two weeks now and have watched from the inside and outside of the Bella Center as the UN Climate Change Negotiations proceed. At this point the progress that is needed to have a fair, ambitious, and binding treaty has not occurred. The nations of the world are still stuck in a political gridlock and the transparency of this process for observers is becoming increasingly limited.

Right now I am sitting in the Bella Center, wearing a bright orange t-shirt that says, “How old will you be in 2050?” I am listening to the plenary session broadcasted on screens throughout with clusters of NGOs, young people, and party delegates crowded around. Security guards walk around staring me in the eyes. Outside protesters are trying to break-in. We are receiving fragmented reports about what is going on just beyond these walls, of what has become a UN fortress. Somehow I have managed to find myself within it, in a surreal microcosm of the world. I am struggling with a mix of emotions in navigating what on one hand seems an incredible access to power but on the other is the reality that the struggles that appear to be contained in this conference center are really much bigger and are found outside and back at home.

The pace of the negotiations is wrenching many of us here in the heart as our frustrations and fears about our futures and others are put on the line with the increased delays in action. The marches outside with thousands and the dozens of actions within the Bella Center are drawing the world’s gaze to Copenhagen and on climate change, yet it doesn’t seem to be enough. It is incredible to me that my country or rather a few key decision makers are able to stall the process. Though really, that is only a simple analysis of the state of things right now. We are working with a process that is flawed (whether or not there is anything better—I do not know). I wrote yesterday on the SustainUS Blog about my inspiration from the amazing people I have met and the development of networks of people that are seeking solutions now. This seems to be the best we have at this point.

The science on climate change is no longer in debate and it is apparent here that we must think beyond our economic and political concerns and realize a moral call to action to address this issue. The images for me that most stand out from the past week are those from when I pass the incredible people who are undertaking the Climate Justice Fast, several of these individuals are now on day 42 without food. They have undertaken the fast because of their loss of what to do in the face of the inaction we see. I sympathize wholeheartedly at this point, and will join them tomorrow for a day of fasting with world leaders and citizens from around the world.

Other moving images from the past week include those from the march of 100,000 in the streets of Copenhagen on Saturday, where people of all ages stood in solidarity for climate action, this image was further solidified when I came back to the Bella Center and saw Bill McKibben of standing at a computer beaming with excitement as pictures from 350 vigils on that same day came streaming in from around the world. Government action is necessary on this issue but it will only come if the people demand it. Despite some progress recently, the United States still needs to take bolder action for our country’s prosperity and that of the entire planet. Let’s envision a future that is truly sustainable where clean renewable energy powers our lights and people see the impacts of their actions on everyone else worldwide and take action to foster healthy and long-term relations. Despite the daily frustrations on seeking a better way, I am reminded of the words of Kumi Naidoo from just over a week ago, “We can do this, we must do this, we will do this!”

December 16, 2009 at 7:25 pm 1 comment

They say FACES. We say farces.

this does not equal this

Gone are the days when environmentalists had only to worry about the dirty energy lobby taking our politicians on luxury cruises or using “greenwashing” to trick consumers into believing that products are environmentally friendly. No, the bad guys can’t just stop at buying out our politicians and our message, they have to hijack our tactics too. Exit grassroots. Enter “Astroturf,” a PR ploy disguised as a spontaneous grassroots effort. It may not be a new tool, but it seems to be all the rage right now. Suffice to say, things are getting dirty, as if Big Coal and Big Oil  weren’t dirty enough already.

To kick off their efforts to perpetuate the petroleum industry in response to new climate legislation coming from Congress, a group called Energy Citizen held a rally in Houston to fight back. Or did they? Says Climate Progress: “Despite signs and T-shirts, the Houston rally of more than 3,000 people – which was sponsored by a group calling itself Energy Citizens — actually had a boatload of funding and logistical support from the oil and gas industry, according to an American Petroleum Institute (API) memo leaked late last week by the environmental group Greenpeace.” Click here for the full article.

The coal industry has chimed in with their own citizen front group as well: the  Federation for American Coal, Energy and Security  or FACES.  My question: who exactly are these people anyway? Grist tried to find out, but upon emailing the only contact on FACES’ website, which listed no funders or members of the group, their inquiry bounced back. You can check out the full article here.

As a grassroots organizer, I have always taken comfort in the idea that there are two major forms of power: money and people. The bad guys might have the former, but when we come together, we’ve got the latter. My question: how do we keep it this way? Watch what real activists did in North Carolina.

— Rebecca Van Damm

August 21, 2009 at 8:19 pm 1 comment

Owning Our Movement: Turning “Junk” into Action

Now more than ever grassroots fundraising is critical to keeping our organizations and campaigns strong. It’s also a great opportunity for us to both literally and figuratively “own” our movement. Ellie Johnston, SEN Steering Committee member, and other incredible activists in Asheville did just that and raised over $1,000 to support our work.

Students at UNC Asheville clean house and raise money to support climate action

Students at UNC Asheville clean house and raise money to support climate action

Check out what Ellie had to say about their event:

So as people who want to work towards a just and sustainable future we often face a dilemma in how to get the money to accomplish our goals. Grassroots fundraising should compliment the grassroots organizing that we are doing, right? But how do you sustain and support an organization with grassroots fundraising?

The students at UNC Asheville have renewed an age old method of raising funds–the yard sale. Selling your stuff is a great way to get some dough. If your a college student though, who just wants to support an organization and doesn’t own a bunch of stuff that you can give up, what do you do? Sell other peoples stuff.

At UNCA we had planned to have a yardsale as part of our Greenfest week for months, but 10 days out we still hadn’t gotten any donations in response to the flyers we had put up. So, we took a more proactive approach to getting stuff to sell. We realized that people who have yard sales have stuff they want to get rid of and by the end of the yard sale they still are left with stuff they want to get rid of. So we offered to pick up people’s yard sale leftovers in order to get it out of their hands and more importantly away from the landfill. A day and a half spent picking up yard sale leftovers around town resulted in a ton of really great items that we could then sell at our own yard sale the following week.

Early on we had decided on two things about this yard sale. First this was going to be a yardsale for the Southern Energy Network who has supported our organization on a lot things throughout the year and is going through a financial pinch like the rest of the world. And second, that we weren’t going to dictate to anyone what they would pay for items.

On the day of the yard sale we had it all setup out on UNC Asheville’s Quad and waited for people to come. People came trickling on to the Quad in hopes of seeing the huge yard sale that we had advertised. At the register people would come up with their rollerblades, coffee makers, and flannel shirts while we explained that the proceeds from this yard sale were going to the Southern Energy Network and asked them to make an offer on what they were buying. No offer was ever turned down and many were really quite generous. In all we got just over $1000 from selling people’s leftovers, not bad eh?

People everywhere love a good deal. Now that the weather has warmed the bargain hunters are on the prowl and would love to support your favorite organization (especially when they find that Mt. Rushmore tea cup to complete their collection).

A huge thanks to Ellie and team! Also to Reagan Richmond and students in Tennessee for the $250 they raised for SEN through an art opening and raffle.

Feel inspired, support SEN and our work to promote a youth-led movement for a clean, just and sustainable energy future!

April 17, 2009 at 6:02 pm Leave a comment

No Coal Lotta Love


After spending millions of dollars to promote the oxymoron that is “Clean Coal”, the coal industry couldn’t shield its investment from a massive coal-ash spill at a power plant in Tennessee just before Christmas. Concerned citizens from all over the U.S. are standing up and declaring coal will always be a filthy energy source and we need to invest the precious time we have into safe, renewable, and clean energy.

The past two months have been a nightmare for the coal industry. First there was the Tennessee spill shortly before Christmas. On New Year’s Day, a coal train derailed in Otero County, Colorado. On Jan. 9, a leak at a second TVA waste pond at the ironically named Widows Creek Power Plant in Alabama spilled some 10,000 gallons of gypsum slurry, that same day a coal train operated by National Coal Corporation overturned, dumping 1,100 tons of coal along the New River in Scott County, Tenn.


February 24, 2009 at 11:46 pm Leave a comment

NC Coal Plant Setback!

This just in last night. A ruling by the federal judge in Asheville stop cliffsiderevoked the 800 MW Cliffside coal plant air quality permit because it does not meet Maximum Available Control Technology (MACT) regulations for mercury. This comes on the heels of a ruling by a DC circuit court earlier this year that the EPA’s 2005 mercury rule was illegal because it evaded mandatory cuts in toxic mercury pollution. NRDC and the Southern Environmental Law Center represented Environmental Defense Fund, National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), Sierra Club and Southern Alliance for Clean Energy in this lawsuit. Duke Energy now has 70 days to update their technology and comply with the MACT and if they don’t the court has the ability to halt construction of the plant!! The ruling is available online at

Media release from NRDC, Southern Environmental Law Center and Southern Alliance for Clean Energy on this victory follows.


December 4, 2008 at 4:13 pm Leave a comment

Youth Summit brings large next steps for NC

ncyess-imageClick here to read the whole story

This year’s conference included 2 and a half days of speakers, panels, and workshops that addressed the issues of energy, climate change, and environmental justice. Throughout the weekend all participants discussed topics or importance and attended hands on workshops that empowered and inspired them to return to their communities and campuses ready to implement the changes necessary to build a just and sustainable energy future. Conference speakers include inspiring leaders from throughout the southeast who’s work is making this future a reality.

Very Special Thanks goes to our Asheville conference sponsors:Buddha Bagels , Rosettas, Greenlife, The Hop ice cream parlor, Amazing Savings, Over Easy, and French Broad Food Co-op. Your donations of foods and goodies went a long way and everyone really apprecaited the donations. Thank you for supporting sustainability efforts and this generatiosn endeavors to create a just and sustained future!!

Thanks also to our on-site support team, AASHE students, UNC Asheville, HighSmith Student Union personnel.

November 25, 2008 at 6:00 pm 1 comment

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