Last week, 70 ACE leaders traveled to Power Shift 2013—the largest convergence of young people advocating for a clean and sustainable energy future in the U.S. Our power shifters journeyed from Northern California, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Charlotte, Washington DC, New York City and Boston, all the way to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where they flooded the streets with ideas and solutions for a new future.
Power Shift kicked off last Friday with fiery speeches from movement leaders and a moving keynote address by Phillip Agnew of Dream Defenders. Phillip provided a megaphone to the youth voice in our movement when he led the audience of over 6,000 in a resounding declaration, “I believe that we will win!”
Phillip joined ACE immediately afterwards for an exclusive interview with ACE Media Correspondent and Climate Action Fellow, Pablo Gomez on the importance of connecting the youth climate movement with the human rights movement. Later in the weekend, Pablo sat down with Hareth Andrade of Dreamers of Virginia for an intimate conversation about her personal connection to the justice movement and why she came to Power Shift. Hareth shared her passion for educating, advocating for, and outreach to immigrant youth in Virginia – and the importance of connecting the dreamer movement to that of youth speaking out on climate.
The first day of Power Shift workshops started with our youth leaders choosing from four unique tracks or specializations within the climate movement: renewable energy; the economy; food; and media. The sessions were led by organizations from across the country such as Green For All and the Green Schools Alliance. These tracks and sessions provided an opportunity for participants to gather and organize for the future they dream of, based upon their unique strengths and passions.
Saturday was a big day for ACE leaders: our students led three sessions at Power Shift, educating hundreds on our mission and necessity of united youth. Our first session, the High School Caucus, was designed for high school students at the conference to come together and speak freely and boldy about the challenges of climate change and the solutions for a new future. Our ACE Student Facilitators led the jam-packed room in discussions and exercises that got participants up and contorting their bodies into physical representations of what we can create together. ACE leaders Miwa Lee, Saul Rodriguez and Jasmine Wei used art to create a new narrative on climate change— one that emphasizes the necessity of diverse solutions and serious creativity. Miwa, Saul and Jasmine created artwork during the one-hour session that was inspired by participants talking and sharing their ideas.
The ACE Digital Media and Storytelling Hub was an experience that combined technology and zine-making to amplify student voices on climate change. In this fast-paced session, the ACE Atlanta Media Team guided their peers from around the country through making zines to pass around to their friends at Power Shift, the basics of video storyboarding and filming their very own Right to Know Public Service Announcements–in front of a green screen that placed them in the White House, the VMAs, climate-impacted communities and in front of hundreds of their peers!
You know we had to take it to the next level with the ACE Assembly, right? ACE staff Vernard Williams and AshEl Eldridge wove beats and rhymes into our climate science assembly, turning the presentation into a lyrical lesson and inspiration for these young people–leaving them teeming with ideas for our energy future.
Each night of Power Shift was capped by live performances from a multitude of artists, including Big K.R.I.T and Idle Warship featuring Talib Kweli and Res. The ACE Media Team even caught up with Kweli backstage!
ACE leaders returned to their homes around the country on Monday but definitely brought Power Shift 2013 back with them! The exchange with their peers and other young people from around the country helped students to reimagine a new, broader definition of what it means and looks like to care about the environment. ACE leader Kwanesha Love from Washington D.C. said, “ I learned that environmentalists come in different forms; you don’t have to look a certain way or care about the environment in a certain way to be a part of this movement .”
That’s how you shift power.