Whether it was First Nations people on reservations or poor white folks in Appalachia the entire country is abuzz with resistance and it’s beautiful.
By Ron Collins, Fight for the Soul of the City Organizer
For the past five days I attended a gathering of over 8,000 youth environmentalists from all across the nation and the political spectrum. I lead a delegation of five other Labor Community Strategy Center (LCSC) youth organizers and we were able to learn from and build with a variety of different people and organizations. The conference was held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania a former hub of the steel industry that has made great strides in building a more sustainable city. Most of the attendees were white college students with a delegation from their campus group or from one of the big green NGO’s. There were also youth from several different First Nations tribes as well as a scattered presence of local grassroots organizations.
Our delegation was able to present on three different panels talking about our work around the environment and the school to prison pipeline. We attended some 30 panel discussions over the course of the conference covering everything from the spread of hydraulic fracturing, the movement to pressure institutions to divest from dirty energy,and the actions being taken to end the Keystone XL Pipeline and the devastating effects of Tar Sands.These panels helped our organizers deepen their knowledge on the range of the environmental justice movement as well as understand solutions to the devastation we are seeing in our communities. Being that the conference was focused on environmental justice rather than traditional environmentalism we were able to see quite a few people from under represented communities as speakers.
The most impactful experience of the whole conference for me was getting to hear the stories of other frontline communities and how they are fighting for a better way of life. Whether it was First Nations people on reservations or poor white folks in Appalachia the entire country is abuzz with resistance and it’s beautiful. While the conference had its contradictions, I believe that all of the participants were well intentioned and want to build a world free of the devastation of capitalism and environmental degradation. In the coming days you will be hearing from all of our delegates and getting a firsthand account their personal thoughts and reflections on the conference.