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It’s Easy Being Green: Environmentally Active Youth Head to D.C.

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On April 15 an estimated 10,000 students will converge on Washington, D.C. to make their demands known for a clean, sustainable future.

They’ll be taking part in Power Shift 2011, a conference that brings youth activists together from around the country to bolster grassroots efforts on environmentalism, sustainability, and climate change. The four-day event will include workshops, keynote speeches, and lobbying events that will educate and inspire the next generation of leaders in the green movement.

This is the third time the biannual conference has met in Washington, D.C. The first conference was held in 2007, and it drew over 5,000 young activists from around the country. Power Shift 2009 attracted an even larger crowd, and the latest conference promises to generate even more involvement. Power Shift has also been held in Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

The event is sponsored by the Energy Action Coalition, a partnership of over 50 youth-led organizations that work on environmental and social justice issues. This highly collaborative model has opened lines of communication between students around the country and the world, and has led to collective action on environmental issues on an unprecedented scale.

Three themes will guide Power Shift 2011 and be the focus of the conference’s workshops:

  • Catalyzing the clean energy economy: How can we create a thriving green-collar economy that leads to job growth and solves sustainability problems?
  • Campus climate challenge 2.0: What can we do to transform institutions of higher education into hubs of sustainable innovation?
  • Beyond dirty energy: What steps can we take to move toward clean energy sources, and how can we protect our air, water, and food from contamination?

Additionally, a number of high-profile keynote speakers will discuss the importance of protecting our environment and mitigating climate change. Confirmed speakers include former Vice President Al Gore, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, CAP Senior Fellow Van Jones, and renowned author Bill McKibben.

The conference agenda won’t be all speeches and panels, however. The organizers have stressed the importance of providing opportunities for activists to engage with one another to build important working relationships and share knowledge and insight about the green movement. Social events such as dinners and music performances have been planned, as well as movement-building events where conference goers can share knowledge about the components of successful grassroots campaigning.

The conference culminates on Monday with a lobbying event and a demonstration on Capitol Hill. Lobbying visits will give attendees the opportunity to directly petition their legislators to work toward clean energy and sustainable goals. Meanwhile, the demonstration could be one of the largest gatherings of youth in the name of environmental justice ever assembled in our nation’s capital.

Power Shift 2011 promises to be a fulfilling educational experience and an important display of strength for the environmental movement. Fortunately, registration is still open until this Friday, April 8.

The conference will be bigger than ever this year. We hope you can join.

Read more articles from the "It’s Easy Being Green" series