Power Shift ignites youth environmental activism in D.C.

This past weekend, I attended the Powershift 2009 conference in Washington, D.C., where I gained an incredible learning experience in the importance of protecting the environment.

As I, along with 30 other students from Williams College, Bennington College and University of Massachusetts boarded the bus, I really did not know the road I was about to take. Initially, I had signed up to obtain some real life experience in environmental policy and meet other college students with the same interest, but the moment I stepped into the colossal convention center, the experience surpassed my expectations. For the first time in my life, I saw students from every state, connecting for a cause despite their differences. We were a powerful force of passionate youth fighting for change. During that weekend, environmentalists filled the streets and subways of D.C.

One of the stories that struck me most was told by two Navajo women. They spoke about coal companies that were literally blasting mountains in order to obtain coal to energize other parts of the country. It was especially shocking when I realized that Williams was benefiting from this injustice – I was able to have a hot shower and a warm room at the expense of a family losing their home – the one necessity that all humans must have. My privilege was at the expense of the sacrifice of others.

Powershift gave me more than new friends and information about environmental policy. It taught me that “being green” should no longer be an option but a necessity to the survival of our Earth. I feel fortunate to be part of a generation that is environmentally conscious and is fighting for a better future.

Kyle Martin ’12