Environmental conference shifts ideas of climate change

Students who were a part of the Power Shift 2009 conference came back from Washington on Tuesday, March 3 with a new perspective on climate change.

The students, who arrived in Washington, D.C. at 4 p.m. on Friday, did not stop moving until they got back to UVM on Tuesday.

Kristen Greenwald, a coordinator for Power Shift, went to four different workshops during the weekend – one on Sustaining Activism taught by Buddhist monks to looking at how climate change fits into the larger perspective.

One workshop, Building Student Leadership and Capacity, taught her how to teach other people how to be leaders on college campuses. “I learned how to bridge the gap between college students and the community,” Greenwald said.

With about 40 different workshops going on each day, there was a lot for students to see.

“My favorite workshop was called Environmental Justice and a basic definition of that is when the poorest and minority people get stuck next to the huge polluters like garbage dumps, coal plants and factories. That’s environmental injustice,” freshman Caitlin Hill said.

Power Shift had a large impact on freshman Vanessa Swinton. “It made me more aware of the global climate situation and made me more conscious of my decisions. I hope to bring that consciousness to other people and to show that that we actually can all change this,” Swinton said.

Now that Power Shift is over, the group has shifted and is now looking to see what they can do in the UVM and Burlington community for the rest of the semester.

Right now the group is considering an earth day celebration. “We will invite schools from all over Vermont to come together. We will have some bands play and have a fun little weekend for earth day to come together and talk about things,” Greenwald said.

As for Power Shift 2010, “We are definitely going to do another group next year,” Greenwald said.