Posted on behalf of Sara Finkle, a student who went to the SJSF Summer Retreat this August.

A Meeting of…

Last week, nearly 30 SJSFers came together at the beautiful St. Nicholas United Methodist church in Hull for the 2010 Summer Retreat (or “advance”, if you prefer). My first inclination was to label it a meeting of minds: we gathered, put our heads together, and pushed through a fall campaign. But a meeting of minds wouldn’t do the week justice. Yes, that was a part of it, but ‘minds’ cannot encompass who these people were and all that the week entailed.

The retreat (advance) consisted of SJSF members from Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Maine. We were also fortunate enough to have a slew of guests: Callista, doing research on the Climate Movement, Grace Ross who gave a training on community organizing, Adrian who gave a training on Knowing Your Rights, Alan and Carolyn who gave a presentation on Sustainable Winchester, and Imre Berty who gave a Nonviolent Communication training.

The results? Well, we did put together a pretty stellar campaign plan. We’re going to further our goal of 100% clean electricity through “three prongs”: political action, local solutions, and action around closing coal plants. We also elected the SJSF executive board and the state campaign team. We decided how to work together as the New England region. We also learned new skills and improved upon old ones. We had training on leadership styles and bird-dogging; we practiced one-on-ones and our public narrative. Finally, we built the relationships that we so stress as organizers. As much as the advance is a bunch of serious people sitting in a room brainstorming tactics, its also a bunch of excited and un-showered young people cooking five-gallon vats of lentil soup, playing lap tag, swimming, sharing the etymology of their names, and crying with laughter in paper telephone. It was a really thrilling and inspiring experience to spend a week with such dedicated people, making friendships with the folks who are repowering energy and revitalizing communities around New England.

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New England Climate Summer teams have started rolling this week! Check out their blog “Pedal Posts from the Road” all summer long at:

http://climatesummer.wordpress.com/

WMHSJSF. Yes, we know it’s a tongue twister :). Several weeks ago, a group of high school students realized that there college was about to end, and SJSF would probably become less productive over the summer, because many of the college students are not from the state. So, we made a subgroup of SJSF, called Western Massachusetts High Schoolers for a Just and Stable Future. So far we have had 2 awesome meetings, and we will be meeting weekly between now and the 23rd, (the probable date for our next sleep-out!), and bi-weekly throughout the summer. We started as a small group of just a few people, but have grown to nearly 20 regularly attending members and, according to our Facebook page, 46 high schoolers who are interested! Right now we are working on getting local sponsors, to help us host events and do other things to increase SJSF membership, and set the Leadership Campaign on firm ground to kick off powerfully in the fall.

Our very first event, as I said earlier, will be a sleep out on the Amherst Commons! Everyone who is interested is welcome to join us! We do not have a confirmed date in place at present, as the permit applications are still being dealt with, but I will update you as soon as we know for sure. It is still in the planning stages, but there will probably be live music, a rally, and a protest at the site of the proposed Russell biomass plant, along with planning and brainstorming sessions. And games of course! What would a sleep-out be without kickball? Also, it will be entirely legal, so no worries about citations or other repercussions.

The next piece of big news is that we just got our own blog! You can come check it out! our plan is to update it every few days, but and if you have anything you would like to write, go for it!

Finally, we are always looking for to build membership, so if you are interested, or you know someone who is, you are welcome to stop by at our next meeting, or tell your friends to! It will be on Sunday the 30th, probably at 4:00, and the location is TBA, although likely Belchertown. If you have any suggestions, feedback, or questions for the group, we would love to hear them! You can email me at skijon@comcast.net , or post a comment to this post. Thanks!

Non LC members are taking notice of our activities on campus! Here is a video made by Boston College students who did a project on The Leadership Campaign for an enviromental policy class. Check it out!

My words to the general student body:

As students we need to become more involved with our government and social structures. We have the resources and the time but most of the time act as if we don’t care. What the government is doing now is our futures. We can’t let them make decisions without our voice. Regardless of political viewpoints, we can’t just sit around and complain about whats going on in our legislatures without taking a stand. Nothing is going to change unless we decide to change it. So get up. Get motivated. Make a difference.

If you would like to become involved with The Leadership Campaign and have not already become apart of the internal structure please sign up on our website under Join Us!

This entry is posted on behalf of Mino Caulton a junior at Amherst Regional High School who recently became involved in The Leadership Campaign. He gives a brief overview on his involvement and his experience during The Leadership Campaign’s non-violent direct actions on Earth Day.

I am Mino Caulton and I am a junior at high school in Amherst. I just got involved with my school’s Environmental Action Club this year, but I’ve been on my towns Recycling and Solid Waste Committee since February of 2009. I like being politically active and aware, and when Kaia Zimmerman, a fellow high school student, talked about the Leadership Campaign during school, I wondered how I could become more involved.

The Leadership Campaign is a group of students and community members pushing legislation in Massachusetts supporting 100% clean electricity in ten years through lobby efforts and non-violent direct actions coined ‘sleepouts’. The campaign is under the umbrella group Students for a Just and Stable Future (SJSF) who also runs New England Climate Summer.

Not long after  Kaia’s speech, I became the Western MA high school coordinator. I decided it would be good for both myself and SJSF.

I’d stopped by a sleepout during the first half of the campaign, and was impressed, everyone was so nice! I was really excited to go and meet everyone again during the second half of the campaign where there were four sleepouts, Amherst, Cambridge, Worcester and Boston. I did not attend the Amherst sleepout but by the time the Cambridge sleepout came around, I was really excited to go and meet everyone again. I had a great time in Cambridge, and was super excited for Boston.

I recruited three more students from Belchertown High School to join a junior from Northampton, and ten more students from Amherst High School. It was encouraging to see so many high schoolers at what was predominantly a college-age event, both as an environmentalist and as a 17 year old!

The event itself was great. It was great to see all my friends there, but better to see them being involved in intellectual conversations with people who they didn’t know! All the speakers were fantastic, pointing out both the need for change and our ability to change. It was really encouraging seeing people, most of whom aren’t much older than I am, giving passionate and incredibly thoughtful speeches.

In the morning, 5 Amherst High School students including myself engaged in the stand-in.  We waited and sat in at Binienda’s office until he called. The other four – all freshmen – sat directly across from Craig and I. When Binienda called, the freshmen, who for the most part  knew nothing about the LC two weeks ago, were leaning in as close as they could listening intently.

I learned a lot from this Earth Day, but one thing that really stood out as encouraging was to see so many high schoolers there. We all had a great time at such a memorable event. It’s disappointing that this is the last sleepout of the semester; in all likelihood we could have even more at the next one! But we are starting to organize… hopefully we can get a really, really strong movement soon!

For more information on the Leadership Campaign, their policy, and how to get more involved, visit their website, facebook, and twitter.

100% Clean Electricity by 2020!

The other day, I was thinking about a lesson that most of us learn in our early years of schooling: don’t judge a book by its cover.  And it simply means that appearances are not everything.

At the moment when I plug in my phone to charge it at night, I can’t see  cities getting more polluted, children suffering from asthma, desert regions spreading, and sea levels rising.  When I throw my trash away, I can’t see the factories from which the packaging came or where this packaging is going.  When I buy a tomato at Star Market, I can’t see the pesticides that were used for mass production or the truck driver delivering this tomato from hundreds of miles away.

It’s about time we see the hidden costs of our cheap consumption driven life style.  We need to stop judging by appearances and start judging justly.  Appearances are not everything.  Even though it takes little effort to plug in that phone, toss that wrapper in to the garbage, or pick up a tomato and pay for it, the environmental degradation resulting from used resources is impacting people at home and in communities all over the globe.

I realize that most of those in the Leadership Campaign realize the urgency in all of this, and for that I am grateful.  But, I also understand that many of our neighbors, most of our political leaders, and much of society does not.  So what does this mean?  Well, even though the semester is coming to a close, we’ve still got lots of work to do.  Find a way to continue spreading the truth this summer by making your environmental enthusiasm a part of your life and never lose the drive that has gotten us this far.  Let’s get to it!