On February 3rd and 4th, young people ranging from middle school students to those in their mid-twenties gathered together at The First Lutheran Church of the Trinity in Bridgeport, an area neighboring Pilsen and Little Village, the two districts that the Fisk and Crawford Coal Plants are located in. Students from schools such as University of Chicago, DePaul, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago middle and high schools, and organizations such as the Chicago Clean Power Coalition and Sierra Club had an opportunity to meet each other, learn more about the environmental issues affecting Chicago, and share their stories of activism and environmentalism. The highlight of the night for me was the 1-on-1 training by Christine Nannicelli and Alicia Klepfer, in which we learned how to establish a ‘common ground’ with another person within the movement just simply by meeting them for coffee. These personal relationships hold the movement together! The most touching moment was when Alicia, now director of the UChicago Climate Activist Network, talked about the impact that UChicago’s trip to Powershift had on her involvement in environmental activism. She said she found out about the event from table tents, small posters we placed on dining hall tables promoting the events. I remember making those table tents for Powershift, not knowing how widespread the effect was on students I did not even personally know! This goes to show how meaningful environmental work can be not just for the cause itself but for the positive impacts it can have on the lives of those involved. I was also especially inspired by the middle and high school students at the retreat who cared so much about issues in their city. The event was great for meeting people from other schools, connecting with those who care about similar issues, and learning how to organize around these issues. I cannot wait for future Chicago Youth Climate Coalition events!
(written by UCAN member, Caitlin)