The Will Steger Foundation led a YEA! MN delegation of nine students from three different Twin Cities high schools to Power Shift 2011, a massive youth climate summit in Washington DC, April 15-18. YEA! MN delegates took leadership in leading their own workshop on high school activism, and participated fully in one of the largest grassroots trainings in U.S. history.
Not only were these young leaders articulate and engaged, they were also an inspiration to their college-age peers. Time and time again their contributions were met with joy and applause. Not only did they reflect the power of the youth message on climate justice, they also represented living, breathing, walking hope on planet earth.
Minnesota high school senior, Gene Whipple, shares his reflection on the Power Shift experience:
I’m so tired, sore and exhausted. But with music, art and with my own two hands, I am ready to work for a better world. I NEED to work, do something to conserve and protect this planet Earth. The protests, the rallies, the petitions, the lobbying, the laws, it is not enough. For the survival of the human race, to achieve the massive changes we need to survive, we need Love. We must reawaken our spiritual connection with the Earth and with each other.
I have heard it said that if the civil rights movement had used the tactics taught at Power Shift, nothing would have changed. But we are not the civil rights movement. No new law will change the basic way that humanity thinks about itself and nature. For that one must connect with nature in ways both scientific and sacred.
Power Shift 2011 taught us how to lobby for the planet, how to rally for Earth. But that is not enough for me. I must live Earth, we must live the change we wish to create in the world.