Young Enviromentalists Join Power Shift 2013

By Cece Washington

Power Shift 2013 has come to Pittsburgh for the first time, after hosting previous conferences in Washington, D.C. With Pittsburgh to be the first city to ban fracking, it was an honor to have Power Shift held here.

“[The] city at the crossroads of the fight for a clean and just energy future — at the heart of building the green economy, yet directly in the crosshairs of the fracking industry,” Bill Peduto said.

 About 8,000 students from more than 720 campuses registered to attend the conference, which started October 18 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, and thousands more showed throughout the rest of the weekend.

Power Shift, hosted by Energy Action Coalition, is a biannual convergence of young activists who seek to help the movement to end fracking, divest from fossil fuels and more. The conference offered attendees workshops, keynote speakers, and more than 200 panels on how to run campaigns and promote clean energy on campuses and in communities.

Throughout the conference there were several speakers that stood out to most of the crowd.  Ta’kaiya Blaney, a twelve-year-old activist from Sliammon First Nation, talked about how fracking is ruining the beaches in her home town. She also sang in honor of fighting to end oppression, racism, and corruption from our government and communities.

 Tom Steyer, one of the richest men in America and also a keynote speaker, said, “I completely stopped my business career at the end of last year in order to work for a change in policy and climate and energy.” He also went on to say, “You may wonder why someone would make that kind of decision. The reason is because no one else was doing it in the [business] community and someone had to.”

There were also appearances from Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune, Bill McKibben, Gasland’s writer/director Josh Fox, and the Dream Defenders.

Along with the panels, trainings, workshops, and keynote speakers was the concert mini-series that took place each night of the conference. The mini-series kicked off with Teachers, Nosaj Thing, and Spank Rock. Saturday’s performances were Ninjasonik, Chippy Nonstop, and Big K.R.I.T. Power Shift ended with performances by Catzie Vilayphonh, Yuna, and Idle Warship.

The march began at 11:30 a.m. at Allegheny Landing on Pittsburgh’s North Shore.  During the protest, 7 were arrested after occupying PNC bank. They were charged with trespassing after refusing to leave the building.

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