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.