Notes from an attendee: Power Shift 2011

Authors: Jonitka Hall | Green For All College Ambassador Power Shift 2011!!! After all the fundraising and organizing that my fellow Ambassadors and I did, the conference was finally happening. The College Ambassadors from different campuses were last together in person at our initial training in Atlanta, GA, and since then, we had all learned a lot. That knowledge was clearly visible in the Green Economy workshops, as Ambassadors spoke. It was quite eye-opening to see how far we had come.

In fact, during our initial terms as College Ambassadors, we had all become able, if not yet expert, “ambassadors” of the movement. Many Power Shift attendees were invited from various fields, and were unfamiliar with activism. In speaking with those fresh to the movement, it was easy to see how my training and time as an Ambassador were paying off. At the same time, conversations with leaders of other groups and institutions helped me to realize what more I can do, and to see the flaws and untapped resources at my university. I may have learned a lot, but I still don’t know everything. Speaking of experts, Power Shift had some extremely exciting keynote speakers, including former Vice President Al Gore, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, and author, activist and leader Van Jones. Keynote speakers at many other youth conferences often offer the same tag line; sound bites and headlines like “You are not only the future, but also the present” and “nothing is impossible” are thrown about. Power Shift was different. The speakers at Power Shift truly respected those of us in the audience (I mean, we deserve it, right?) Not only were they willing to share their current fights with us, but also the speakers were humble enough to admit to us their mistakes or shortcomings (for example, the Climate Bill, energy reform, BP Spill clean up and community support) – and what they would’ve done differently in hindsight. In this regard, they were all true leaders, willingly sharing their expertise with others, so that the ultimate mission can be accomplished. What’s more, I realized that Green For All’s current CEO Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins is absolutely amazing! She was the only speaker that was given a true standing ovation by the audience. As I looked around, I saw in their faces that they got up not simply because of her position, but because they heard her and were inspired to stand together. I had sat across from her at lunch, so approachable, and here she was in a completely different light! I left Power Shift 2011 feeling as ambitious as I did as a little kid. The key difference? I am now surrounded by great leaders like my fellow Ambassadors and the GFA Fellows and staff, who are all already working towards a common mission. Perhaps those sound bites are sometimes right: we indeed are not only the future, but also the present.

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