The Green Beat

By Anna Waugh

Last weekend, 13 Macalester students joined environmental advocates from across the Midwest at the third annual Student Clean Energy Conference to talk about principles of sustainability and visions for a more just future. The three day workshop and lecture series in Madison, Wis., focused on skillshare and explanations about what different campuses across the region are doing in environmental justice planning, energy policy and student group organizing. The conference concentrated on creating strategies to influence politicians in the upcoming elections toward a focus on environmental issues and climate change, and gave students a chance to present their projects and ideas during breakout sessions.

Timothy Den Herder-Thomas ’09, Kai Bosworth ’10 and Matt Kazinka ’11 each presented in panels. Joey Adamji ’08 and Hannah Gelder ’08, one of the organizers of the trip, co-presented a panel on the Ford Plant Redevelopment Project.

“I found [the conference] incredibly inspiring and motivating. It’s nice to get a group of likeminded people together,” Gelder said. She also said that the conference gave students a chance to discuss and finalize a draft of the Midwest Climate Declaration, a document that outlines sustainable visions for the region, and will be presented by students to Midwest Governors.

The conference, which was mostly student run, was sponsored by Energy Action, Global Exchange, Apollo Alliance, the Sierra Student Coalition, and WISPIRG, which organized the event.

Speakers from environmental groups spoke about positive changes and struggles against polluting industries. Kandi Mossett, from the Indigenous Environmental Network, talked about her organization’s work in fighting against coal plant and oil refinery expansions on Native American reservations.

Students from across the country were housed with University of Wisconsin students.

“I went two years ago and that was more of a skillshare. From that first conference the first student alliances formed. This one was more strategic,” Gelder said. It gave students a chance to increase outreach, incorporate other social justice movements, increase communication and work on building clean energy structures. Nearly 200 students from states across the region attended.