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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

"UC LEAP members bring home progress"

Readers, for those of you who don't know, I recently attended Powershift 2011 in Washington D.C along with over thirty fellow UC students, and several thousands of others from across the country. I have wanted to blog about it for sometime, but didn't want to sell it short. Just read this article by UC's Leaders for Environmental Awareness and Protection (or LEAP) vice-President elect Amanda Morgan. Obviously, Powershift had a profound impact on a lot of our students like Amanda.

By Amanda Morgan
posted in the UC News Record
May 10, 2011

Brian Baer | Sacramento Bee/MCT
The former vice president encourages students to pursue greener campuses.
Leaders for Environmental Awareness and Protection teamed up with University of Cincinnati Democrats to send 30 students from a variety of academic concentrations and student organizations to the third-ever Powershift event April 18.

Powershift, the largest grassroots training event in the country, focused on climate action and transitioning to clean energy alternatives in the hopes that students will use the information to increase sustainability on campuses.

Along with 10,000 other student environmentalists from across the country, attendees from UC participated in grassroots-organizing workshops and listened to Al Gore, Lisa Jackson of the EPA.

The event, an initiative of the Energy Action Coalition, provided workshops aimed at training students to be effective leaders, run successful environmental campaigns and, ultimately, empower them to bring change to their own communities.

"Young people are leading this movement," Gore said during his speech. "You are the core of this movement."

Over the next four days, Gore's words seemed to ring true. The attendees marched on Washington, beginning outside the Chamber of Commerce and paid special attention to locations like GenOn Energy, BP and, finally, the White House.

"The techniques for organizing an event were brought full circle," said Paula Breslin, the adviser for the Environmental Studies Program and LEAP. "The enthusiasm of that April 18 march gave you a sense of empowerment that you can make a difference."

The students worked together in their plans to achieve climate justice, according to Kaitlyn Ruby, a third-year environmental studies student.

"I think we have many things to do at UC first, and I'm very excited to see what the 30 student leaders who attended Powershift do with all they learned," said Ruby, who is also co-president of LEAP. "I believe we have a lot to do on campus and in our communities. We need to start with greening our own backyards, and I think we have the tools to begin."

Some attendees have already begun working on several campaigns since their return.

UC Beyond Coal aims at being "clean" by 2016 and transitioning from coal to clean energy alternatives on campus.

"We need to push our administration to move onwards to more viable energy options that will not only clean up our air, but save UC money when the price of coal skyrockets," said Eli Williams, a second-year biology and environmental studies student, who was introduced to LEAP at Powershift. Williams is also chair of the coal campaign and LEAP co-president elect.

Other projects include a food campaign aimed at getting fresh food from local farms on campu sand establishing composting facilities on campus.

Page Kagafas, a third-year dietetics student and secretary of the UC Mountaineering Club, said she learned the importance of identifying a target and figuring out what you need to accomplish a goal.

Now, she is playing a major role in the food campaign.

"This tactic is very logical and extremely effective," Kagafas said. "At UC, we're planning to work with Aramark ... to provide students with the food services they want, especially with all the money spent on meal plans."

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