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Clean Energy / News & Views / This is what democracy looks like

This is what democracy looks like

56 travel to DC for climate rally—including 27 students

Forward on Climate | February 28, 2013 | By Jim Lively

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Jim Lively is MLUI's program director. Reach him at jim@mlui.org.


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Fifty-six people—including 27 students—boarded a bus to DC to join 40,000+ at the Forward on Climate Rally on Feb. 17.

Fifty-six people. Twenty-seven students. Thirty hours round-trip on a cramped bus. Four hours standing on the National Mall in frigid temps followed by a march to the White House.

That’s what democracy looks like. It’s not always comfortable, but it sure is inspiring.

On Saturday Feb. 16, I joined 55 other people on a bus in Traverse City headed for Washington D.C. to march in what was to be the largest climate rally ever held in the United States. MLUI helped sponsor the trip with the local citizen’s group Sustainable TC and support from the Traverse City nonprofit SEEDS.

We wanted to give northern Michigan citizens a chance to share their voices at the Forward on Climate Rally, which was organized by the Sierra Club, 350.org, and the Hip Hop Caucus. The purpose of the rally was demonstrate to President Obama the citizen support for his recent pledge to take action to reduce the impact of climate change.

We rode through the night, with minimal sleep, waking to the sights of our nation’s capital. For some, this was their first glimpse of D.C.; 27 of my fellow passengers were middle school, high school and college students.

SEEDS brought 16 students from their afterschool programs in Kalkaska, Benzie and Manistee counties along with four coordinator chaperones. Another nine students from Glen Lake, Leland and Traverse City schools traveled with their parents or friends. MLUI was able to offer reduced fare scholarships for students as a result of generous support from the community.

Bringing so many kids to the rally about an issue that is so connected to their future was incredibly powerful and inspiring. Many of these kids had never left Michigan, much less been to Washington D.C. Joining 40,000 other like-minded climate activists in the shadow of the Washington Monument—and in freezing temperatures—gave those students a life-changing look democracy in action.

We also were lucky to have videographer Bill Latka along for the trip. Bill captured the entire experience from the perspective of the kids in 10 short YouTube videos—many created from the bus.

The rally was lauded as a big success by organizers; not only did it exceed expectations for numbers, but there was considerable media attention both in Traverse City and nationally.

But for us, the success was more personal. Turning kids on to the democratic process, especially when it involves an issue that will impact them for the rest of their lives, is a win in our book any day. 


4053 days ago, 8:19am | by Kevon Martis | Report Comment

Democracy looks like this too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hXmCthGQjOk

4053 days ago, 8:20am | by Kevon Martis | Report Comment

And this is what MLUI's renewable energy policy looks like in real life: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Q4cJ0m821g

4053 days ago, 8:22am | by Kevon Martis | Report Comment

And of course, using MEC's data, for every life saved from renewables, 9 more are sacrificed by not having switched to natural gas: http://www.michigancapitolconfidential.com/18396

4023 days ago, 11:54am | by Hugh McDiarmid | Report Comment

The study Kevon references say nothing about natural gas. The study analyzed the health costs and damages resulting from coal-fired power plants. Those plants -- many of them a half-century old or older -- represent almost 60% of Michigan's electricity generation.

During the Prop 3 campaign, MEC supported moving to 25% renewable energy. That would have left three-quarters of our electricity generation available for natural gas, or whichever fuels and sources made the most sense to create a stable, balanced portfolio -- much as a retirement investment portfolio is balanced among diverse stocks, bonds and other holdings.

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