Sunday, May 8, 2011

PowerShift 2011 Summary

Hello, all that may be interested! Back on April 15-18, we PEACers saw tens of young adults represent South Carolina at the largest youth environmental conference in the country - PowerShift 2011. Students (and former students) from Clemson, USC, Winthrop, Coastal Carolina, Furman, and USC Aiken attended the weekend events and the Congressional Lobby Day. Over 12,000 young adults united to meet like-minded persons concerned about environmental issues like coal-fired plants, big oil, nuclear technology, and sustainability.

The first day included speeches from Al Gore and Van Jones, and preparation for the big day on Saturday.  That following morning, we all had to answer the question of "why are we here?" For four hours (alongside Florida's attendees,) we analyzed and augmented our Stories of Us to become Stories of Self - to find the joint reason(s) for why we'd come to D.C.  Following this, some of the PowerShifters took it to the streets and participated in long-standing rallies. Others remained in the D.C. Convention Center and frequented learning sessions covering entirely too many environmental topics to name here.  Saturday finished up with speeches from environmentalists, new and old, tall and short, and powerful. Lisa Jackson, Director of the EPA spoke well of our intentions and encouraged us to keep at it, or else nothing will happen.  After the speeches, a concert followed celebrating our passion.

Sunday saw the regions reconvene in their rooms and continue working on their Stories of Us.  And following lunch, the individual states had breakouts to discuss their take on the weekend's events and to begin planning for making change back home.  We South Carolinians determined that we cannot waste any more time in achieving our goals and that 2011 will see the action and similar successes PEAC obtained in 2009.

Not everyone was able to stay for Lobby Day on Monday, but Coastal Carolina and a University of New Hampshire student from the state were able to visit a few aides of our Congressmen.

All in all, Powershift 2011 was not as energized for our state in comparison to 2009, and the conference seemed a little slow at points. Nevertheless, having 12,000 persons concerned about making this country and world a better place for them, the poor, and the powerless in the same place is one of the strongest statements we can make to our political leaders.

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