Learning to Lobby
Seventeen Southwestern students are preparing to join 10,000 students from around the world at the largest-ever youth conference on climate change.
The conference, called Power Shift ‘09, will be held Feb. 27 through March 2 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. It will include speeches, workshops, panel discussions, movie screenings, career and graduate school fairs, and training on lobbying. The event will conclude with a lobbying day on Capitol Hill March 2.
Southwestern students attending the conference include Melissa Dison, Harrison Glaser, Ursula James, Leah Jones, Connor Hanrahan, Lauraly Hernandez, Alexis Kropf, Zoe Martin, Caitlin McShea, Paige Menking, Carissa Nash, Grayson Oheim, Ben Parafina, Lorena Saenz, Milan Ther, Vanessa Toro and Julia Von Alexander. All are members of Students for Environmental Activism and Knowledge (SEAK), the student environmental group on campus.
“I think we have such a large group of students going because we see the promise of not
only this conference but this movement,” Menking said. “It’s inspirational to link yourself as an individual and as an activist to a cause that is national and global in scale. By seeing other people just as passionate as you are about the future of our planet, you leave events like this confident about the direction of the movement and our ability as youth to really affect change within our lifetime.”
James and Jones attended the inaugural Power Shift conference in 2007, which drew 7,000 students.James participated in a panel discussion on the Cool Cities program, which she was involved with in high school.
“It was very powerful to see 7,000 students from around the world together for one cause,” James said. “The most exciting part was the lobbying day. People were very engaged and enthusiastic. It was great to see the group all working towards one goal. Even though we were from different places, we felt the same energy.”
This year, James is leading a workshop at the conference on tactics and strategies.
Several first-year students, including Glaser and Parafina, have helped James and Jones plan this year’s trip.
“I’m going to Power Shift because it’s a chance for me to be part of something larger than myself and to try to help shape this historic time for our government,” Glaser said. “Also, by meeting what are sure to be a lot of cool people and going through the two days of training, I think we will be able to bring back with us skills and experiences that can help us not only with lobbying our representatives, but also with getting our voices heard on campus and in the local community.”
For more information on Power Shift ‘09, visit: www.powershift09.org
Morning Edition Report courtesy of KUT-FM (Washington Bureau), and Public Radio International’s Capital News Connection.