Power Shift needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Was it useful? Yes. Was it a waste? Yes. Power Shift is obviously an activist conference aimed at getting angry, rebellious youth to come together over an environmental issue and create a lot of noise. However, it was easy to see that a lot of the attendees didn’t know very much about the material they were supposedly fighting for. Their demands made that clear…100% renewables now? Not really possible, unless you intend to make everyone completely revolutionize their lifestyles AND pay a whole lot more for their energy. What about the poor? Can we force those who barely get by to join our green revolution? I’m sure if they had to pick between spending those extra few dollars a month on food and healthcare for their children and green energy they will choose the children. Every time.
At the same time I understand the importance of such events in showing that the youth do care about these issues. I won’t buy into the idea of Power Shift having any direct impacts, but indirectly it raises awareness and increase understanding of the issues. Even guest speaker Tim DeChristopher, who I blogged about on Day One, called out Power Shift for failing. He doesn’t feel they were doing enough. Instead of chatting and enjoying nice hotels the Power Shifters should have been out across the country preventing corporate abuse of our planet. On this point I agree; sitting in a convention center brainstorming creative chants is not activism. In fact, it reminds me of a themed college orientation.
Anyways, we did gain some valuable things from Power Shift. We discussed applying a lot of the team building and movement building information directly to GECO. We have a few good ideas surrounding leadership structure, recruitment, and heightened involvement. I think the Billion Dollar Green Challenge workshop was honestly the most useful session, and I would be very interested in working on this in the future. I was fortunate enough to speak to Mark Orlowski for a short time after his workshop but I wish I would have had more time and done a better job networking.
Power Shift registration cost $50/person and there were additional costs of travel and lodging. I, for one, would not pay that much again. We are looking to have a short presentation for the departments that contributed to our funding and I hope we can show them that we did in fact gain something from this trip. If nothing else, I hope I can get in contact with the many people I met, both the big names mentioned above as well as a handful of students from Dickinson. If these contacts come to fruition I’m sure it will all have been worth it.
-Thanks to the Eisenhower Institute, Garthwait Leadership Center, Pi Lambda Sigma, the ES department, and Student Senate for their contributions. Without them this would not have been possible. Also, thanks to Mr. & Ms. Brauer, whose rewards program made our hotel stay financially viable. Finally, thanks to Lauren Brauer, for without her assistance and support I probably would have stressed out and this trip would have fell apart. Thank you all!