Students kick off the semester at BFP Mass Climate Organizing Training

Written by Sarah Jacqz, BFP Campus Organizing Intern

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On October 1st, Better Future Project held our second ever Mass Climate Organizing Training. Over thirty students representing eight campuses gathered at MIT to learn about the climate movement, discuss intersections of climate change and other issues, learn campaign skills, and connect with students across the state!  

The students came from Boston University, Brandeis, MIT, College of the Holy Cross, Clark, Smith, Tufts, and Bennington College in Vermont. The majority of students had been involved with their campaigns for less than 1 year, and 1/3 of the students overall had only just joined this semester!  

I joined the fossil fuel divestment movement in February 2015 as a student at UMass Amherst. In my two and a half years there, I saw many of the original leaders of the national student divestment movement (which began in 2012) graduate and move on.  This “leaving” was scary and hard at times, but when I saw so many new students at our training, I was reminded of the potential for new energy and leadership to grow from the experience of past leaders.  

In the morning, we discussed the root causes & impacts of the climate crisis, the need to build power and to organize, and what makes up campaign strategy.  

We broke for a delicious lunch provided by Fresh Food Generation, a Dorchester-based farm-to-plate food truck and catering company. During lunch, students broke out into groups with Sarah Fadem (the Northeast Field Organizer for Our Climate) to learn about carbon pricing and with me to hear about Boston Ujima Project and reinvestment!

In the afternoon, I led a workshop on what a “Just Transition” means. This framework from the Movement Generation Justice and Ecology Project explains the pillars that uphold the dominant extractive economy and what it takes to transform to a regenerative economy.  

Alyssa Lee, the BFP Campus Programs Manager, led a training on relational organizing and how to have effective one-to-one meetings with new members. Students then self-led discussion groups on Group Structure & Leadership Development and Extractive & Regenerative Economies. Finally, we shared what we learned that day and said goodbye to new friends.

Here were a few of my most memorable moments from the day:

  • Getting to share and connect across different campuses and experiences;

  • Practicing silliness while we learned, especially when we performed an improvisational skit about power on campus;

  • Having a big picture understanding of divestment within a larger economic transformation, and also emphasizing storytelling and being relational;

  • Embodying the world we are working towards by bringing our own containers and utensils and buying all the food from local and community-oriented businesses.

Many of the students who joined us at the Mass Climate Organizing are now a part of our Fall 2017- Spring 2018 Climate Organizing Fellowship. They will continue to build community and leadership through the Fellowship’s monthly trainings. Look out for our next blog post to learn more about them! In February 2018, these fellows will lead our Spring Mass Climate Organizing Training, showing that we can constantly develop new generations of youth climate leaders!

 


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