UCAN Attends Retreat with CYCC (Chicago Youth Climate Coalition), Day 2

(written by UCAN member Alana)

Imagine waking up to the smell of eggs and oatmeal, the jostling of friendly feet and the occasional shriek as someone accidently steps in dog poop and you will know exactly how it felt to begin the second day of the CYCC retreat. After eating this delicious meal and scrubbing of the floors, we began a busy day. We learned how to work with the media and on social media sites. We learned what CYCC had worked on so far and where we are going. Thanks to the Sierra Club, we learned how to run a good meeting and how to tell a personal narrative. (A special shout out to Xoana Ahmeti who shared her narrative with such force and emotion she had us all in tears.) We learned how to make booklets out of large sheets of paper, a task much harder than it sounds. We learned how to participate in Non-Violent Direct Action a.k.a. how to not get ourselves arrested or at least how to get ourselves put in jail in style. We finished the day with some more wonderful food and pledges of how to get involved in the future. To end it all, the remaining 6 UCAN members piled into Ross’s car for a quick, crowded and hilarious ride home, feeling completely exhausted and incredibly motivated!

UCAN Attends "Occupy the Dream" on MLK Weekend

(written by UCAN member, Ross)

To celebrate MLK Day, UCAN, teamed up with Southside Solidarity Network and Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation for a day of action at the People’s Church on Lawrence and Sheridan. A number of UCAN members attended, and were rewarded with an extremely positive, unique experience. Grassroots organizations from across Chicagoland–including ones from northwestern Indian, northern Chicago, the southside and a number of universities in the area–gathered to discuss how we can change the city and the country for the better, accompanied by politicians and a number of other community and religious leaders. The event, titled “Occupy the Dream” to both honor MLK and cite the goals of the Occupy movement, featured some wonderfully uplifting music, impassioned speeches and, most importantly a number of state and city representatives agreeing to support our platform in their respective legislative chambers. Some of the major issues raised included bank accountability and the need for better infrastructure in and around Chicago, with relevant follow-up actions planned for the rest of the month. UCAN left the action energized, motivated and ready to create some change!

Organizer Training Leaves Us Excited!


(written by UCAN member, Ross)

On Sunday, UCAN hosted an organizer training where we were able to unite a number of different activists from all across Chicago. We discussed our values and motivations, pinpointed what we wanted to achieve with environmental activism, practiced one-on-ones and thought up ways to more accurately plan out how to reach a goal. The training was jam-packed with quite a bit of information, but that just left many of us hungry for more strategies and tools to use in our activism. It certainly left me excited and motivated, especially after getting the opportunity to meet and connect with so many other Chicagoans interested in a green future. This training is a great start to what I’m sure will be an exciting couple weeks, with upcoming media and lobbying training sessions before our winter, Chicago-wide retreat and push for the Clean Power Ordinance hearing.

Ending Phony Education

(written by UCAN member, Edward)

In a close victory, UCAN successfully collected over 200 post cards protesting the Illinois Coal Curriculum. The competition sponsored by the IL Student Environmental Coalition to drive in as many post cards as possible before Christmas featured several universities and colleges from around the state. The post cards will all be compiled and sent to Governor Pat Quinn in response to a free curriculum provided by the Dept of Commerce and Economic Opportunity singing the praises of coal and coal products without mentioning any of the negative aspects.

Even with the competition over, the collection of post cards continues with a count from all participating schools well over 500. The Coal Curriculum campaign will be an on-going one as the next stage will be introducing legislation that will end the curriculum for good with the post card petitions being the first step. For now UChicago and UCAN can celebrate its swift call to action with anhe first step. For now UChicago can celebrate its swift call to action with an I-go membership.

UCAN road trip anyone?

From Disappointment to Optimism

(written by UCAN member, Edward)

Coal gasification has been getting its fair share of attention lately by various corporate powers as a clean energy source and eyed by government officials as something that creates jobs.

But the burning of fossil fuels can never be truly clean and far more jobs can be created with actual clean energy projects. The Tenaska state bill concerns the potential construction of a coal gasification plant in Taylorville, IL.
UCAN sprung into action to try and help stop it’s passage. But before we could successfully schedule a meeting with our local senator Kwame Raoul, the bill came up for a vote and Sen. Raoul voted yes.
A few days after the fateful vote, Caroline Wooten (in picture, left) and I went to our scheduled meeting with the senator. Considering that the vote was already cast, the lobby meeting became a fact finding mission to understand why Senator Raoul voted the way he did.
As it turned out, Senator Raoul was a very warm and friendly character. Upon hearing our concerns he assured us that the environment was a concern to him and that in this case his “yes” vote was a much due to a lack of pressure and information as anything else.
By the end of the meeting it was clear that the senator was sympathetic to our cause and is a potential friend especially given his open invitation to meet with him again on future issues.
The meeting was highly successful despite the less than ideal timing. So while Tenaska still lives and looms its ugly head somewhere in the IL house, UCAN has found a new friend moving ahead when going in, it was least expected.

Photo Petition Delivery by Caroline Wooten

Students from UChicago Climate Action Network and their campus ally Student Solidarity Network joined over 50 citizens in front of City Hall on Friday morning to demand that Mayor Emmanuel close Chicago’s two dirty coal plants by the end of the year. The group delivered a board of over 800 photo petitions to the Mayor’s office. The petitions were collected all around Chicago, and feature individuals holding signs saying “I have the right to breath clean air.” Many of the petitions were collected at UChicago by SSN and UCAN members. Check out the Huffington Post article about the delivery: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeff-biggers/chicago-cant-wait-mayor-e_b_1125832.html

ISEC Conference by Alicia Klepfer

In early November several UCAN members trekked up to De Paul University
for a two day ISEC Conference. The Illinois Student Environmental Coalition set up trainings for students from multiple regions to attend, primarily set up into two sections. Saturday focused on community organizing tips and training, while on Sunday we heard from several speakers about different issues as well as different modes of change in the environmental movement.
For the sake of continuing the activist tradition, I shall say that my feeling word was motivated. While I had radically different expectations of what ISEC is, as well as the conference would entail, I came away feeling like I am one step closer to being an effective organizer. One of the most powerful things was addressing self- interest, which you seek to discover through one-on-ones. Just spending a couple minutes thinking about your parents, upbringing, roots, and passions gives you a strange desire to do whatever is necessary to save the planet that makes it all possible.
Looking back, I think simply being conscious of different issues and motivators makes all the difference in the world. When you look at a plastic water bottle, what do you see? Do you see something you drink out of and then chuck? Or do you see an entire veiled world of injustice and greed? Trainings such as this are a good wake-up call that certainly help maintain the consciousness that is needed to make activism not just “that club I did in college” but a life-style and something to apply valuable leadership skills to.
Unfortunately I can’t come up with any good puns. See Ross’s post below for an overload of punny hilarity.

Mud Stenciling Against Leucadia by Ross Carstens

UCAN recently took to the streets–quite literally–to continue our effort to muck up the plans of the Leucadia National Corporation, which is seeking to build a dirty, unhealthy coal gasification plant on the southeast side of Chicago. We employed a technique–mud stenciling–that was new to many of us to help convey our message that, though the mud we splayed all over Hyde Park’s sidewalks might have been a bit too gloopy for the landscaping tastes of some, it’s nothing compared to the dirt, smog, soot and potentially fatal health problems that a new gasification plant would bring to the southeast side of Chicago. We conveyed our green (though in this case probably more brownish-black) message through short slogans basted onto the concrete and flagstone in wet dirt, reminding passerby that “Green Jobs mean Clean Air for the Southside” and encouraging them to get involved with our campaign against Leucadia. The outcome of our project was generally agreed to be a new, interesting way to rally support for environmental causes and, despite the sloppiness cause by lugging bucketfuls of soggy earth around the Quads, ended up looking quite pretty. Hopefully with continuous exposure of their plans to dirty Chicago, UCAN will help make Leucadia’s name “mud” in the city of Chicago!

Thanks to the people who made the stencils, the team that put the dirt on the ground and, of course, the backyard which gave us all the mud we could have hoped for.

Action Against the Keystone XL Pipeline by Caroline Wooten

Over 50 Chicagoans gathered outside the Obama Campaign’s Chicago Headquarters last Friday demanding that the President prevent the construction of the Tar Sands Keystone XL Pipeline. The demonstrators, a colorful mix of students, families, and individuals from Occupy Chicago, came bearing a petition against the Tar Sands signed by over 700 Illinois residents.
Ana Ahmeti, a sophomore at DePaul University, spoke before the crowd, explaining the purpose of the visit, “In 2008, Obama told Americans that under his leadership, our generation would be the one to free America from the tyranny of oil. We are here today to remind the President of his promise.”
The demonstration, like many of the countless Tar Sands actions that have happened throughout the country since August, emphasized the role that youth played in Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. One banner, held by students from Loyola University, read “Can you give our generation the audacity to hope? Stop the Keystone XL.”
Although representatives from the Obama campaign refused to meet with the entire group, they did speak with three representatives who presented the petitions on behalf of the demonstrators.
Marissa Lieberman Klein, a student at the University of Chicago, and one of the individuals who delivered the petition, said that in speaking with the campaign representatives, the group emphasized the work that citizens are doing in Chicago to move the city beyond fossil fuels. She explained, “We told them that here in Chicago, a lot of us have been working to clean up or retire the two coal plants in the city. We’re taking efforts to make our city—also Obama’s city—cleaner and healthier. We want Obama to do the same thing for our nation.”