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Thursday, November 08, 2007

Northwest Students Unite to Form Cascade Climate Network

[This is a guest post by Jenny Bedell-Stiles, of the Cascade Climate Network]

On October 5th-7th, the cosmos aligned on Mt. Hood, Oregon for the birth of the Cascade Climate Network (makin’ us a Libra). For this weekend twenty-one student and youth activists representing ten colleges and universities across Oregon and Washington converged at a cabin owned by a certain small liberal-arts-college-that-will-not-be-named for one of the most exhilarating and exhausting weekends of my life.

There was good home-cooked vegan food for all, a sauna to enjoy, and the odd game of ping-pong to be played, but that’s not what brought us together. We came together to kick-off the Cascade Climate Network and plan a coordinated campaign for youth climate activists in the Pacific Northwest.

Previously only a “virtual” network, organized online and over the phone, the Cascade Climate Network (CCN) is the first-ever effort by youth in the Northwest to launch a region-wide campaign to address the climate crisis.

Throughout the weekend, participants drafted the Cascade Climate Declaration, a document emphasizing the need to address climate change in a clean, local, just, and ecologically sustainable manner.

The CCN will use the Declaration to build support from youth and students as well as faculty, community members, and politicians in Washington and Oregon. By building broad support for the Declaration, the Cascade Climate Network (CCN) plans to hold elected officials, university and college presidents – and ourselves! – accountable to a set of five enduring principles, which should be incorporated into any energy and global warming policy.

It took a weekend of long hours, hot consensus-based discussions and then another week of drafts, revisions, edits and more consensus – have you ever tried writing a document with 21 authors! But in the end, the Cascade Climate Declaration emerged as a testament to the strength of principles, the clarity of vision, and the commitment of Pacific Northwest youth to making a sustainable, just, and prosperous future a reality. Due to talented facilitation, a respectful communication structure (yeah for *sparkle fingers*), and ideas born of optimism and expertise, we created a document that I’ve never been prouder to stand behind. It’s a work of art and process, and it’s going to serve as an amazing organizing tool.

The CCN is now undertaking a momentous campaign that bridges the gap between campus organizing and local political involvement. All the schools in the region have been doing a great job on climate issues individually, especially on their campuses, but now with the CCN we will at last be able to bring together our collective and impressive capabilities under one awesome umbrella – and use the Declaration as a jumping off point to build off of campuses to affect the state and region as well.

We plan to get 10+ student governments and 10,000+ individual students and faculty to sign their support to the Declaration by January 31st when Focus the Nation kicks off. Recognizing that regionalism is important, but also acknowledging the powerful national movement underway, the CCN is working closely with Focus the Nation organizers and will be presenting the campaign at Power Shift this weekend. Look for us there!

Check out our online e-collaboration site to find out more and to view our baby (the Declaration) and other work.

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