The Different Shades of Green
At about 1 AM on Tuesday, March 3rd, I arrived back to my apartment in Brooklyn, New York. The weather was devastatingly frigid and I couldn't see my hands in front of my face - my bus had arrived really late on the count of a blizzard that attacked the northeast. As I lay in my bed, staring at the ceiling, sleep would not come easy. Even though I hadn't slept in about 20 or so hours and had spent the majority of my day trying to figure out how to get home, I was overcome with a sense of energy and passion that was instigated by the weekend I had just spent in Washington, DC.
I was in Washington for the Powershift 2009 conference, in part to act as a representative of the Brooklyn League and as well as an Operations representative, to help run the show in the background. I first became involved with the League in June 2008, as an intern in the Brooklyn office. Since then, I've grown progressively more passionate about the work we do. I had registered people to vote, gotten people to sign the PowerVote pledge to keep politicians accountable and become more vocal and politically aware. Old habits die hard, however, so I tended to approach everything I did with a touch of cynicism or apathy.
As you can see on the Power Shift 2009 News Post, many were gathered at the DC convention center to learn, work together and lobby congress on behalf of clean energy and a green economy. When we arrived at the convention center earlier that weekend, I admit, I was cynical. Perhaps it was because I was on a bus for four or five hours, but I found myself in doubt of what a bunch of kids gathered in a convention center, yelling about green energy could possibly do.
Moments later, I found my cynicism crushed by the power of inspiration. The first thing I did when I got to Powershift on Friday night was run to a speech by Green For All founder Van Jones, author of The Green Collar Economy. Van Jones is the first African-American environmentalist to have a New York Times best seller. Immediately following his speech, I knew that the mood of this weekend was going to be unlike anything I had ever felt before. Mr. Jones called upon young scholars of all different races to embrace the age they had been born into, bringing together those who had felt lost and lonely for so long to channel the pain in their hearts and allow it to manifest itself as passion for change. Like countless others, the anger, frustration and loneliness in my heart at the current state of the world drove me into a negative state of cynicism and apathy.
As Powershift continued, I started to see countless people, young and old, of all different races coming together for one purpose: to bring about broad change to protect the livelihood of future generations. The energy in the convention center was absolutely undeniable - I had begun to see the culmination of the goals of so many embodied each and every face that walked through the crowd. Individuals of every color, creed, gender identity and age were united in a sense of hope for the future and passion for the cause. The stereotype of 'privileged white folks' as environmentalists could exist no longer - at this moment, on this day, if your heart was beating and your eyes were wide, you understood. You got it. You were now part of a movement that could not be stopped.
On the final day of the conference, my mind wandered back to the opening speech by Van Jones. I began to realize as I sat there: the movement is now and I am a pivotal part of it. As a young American, I started to get it: we were born at this dramatic juncture for a reason. At this moment, we must all come together and transcend the outdated bartering lines of race and gender to encompass a grand vision of a better tomorrow. It is pivotal for us as Americans to channel the negative feelings we carry with us on a daily basis as a fuel for change in this country. It is only with a grander awareness of our national and local communities that we can join together and strengthen this movement.
Unity breeds strength, and strength is required in the fierce urgency of now. For the first time in our country's history, we have the opportunity to influence a dramatic shift from a historically destructive, warfare causing, dwindling energy supply to a technologically sound renewable technology that will consequently 'fuel' the country's economy. I am standing up for a better tomorrow. You, out there looking at your computer screen, listening to music and browsing through blog posts, have a fire in your heart that is unable to be put out. I am asking for you to embrace it and join me. Despite our differences in appearance, creed or gender, we must all come together to rally for the greater good. Together, we can ensure a future for ourselves and future generations. We have the power.