Michigan Student Sustainability Coalition

Unifying the voice of a generation in environmental solidarity

The Summit!!

on February 13, 2013

After many posts working up to the summit, I am so excited to post that our 2013 Student Statewide Summit was a huge success! We were joined by over 100 student activists from 11 different MI campuses to engage in a weekend of training, knowledge sharing, and so much fun! Read more about it in this great article by CM Life.  Here’s a picture of us being awesome:

MSSC Student Summit 055

We started our day on Saturday by getting right in to some trainings- students could choose to attend a series of 3 workshops around either fracking, tar sands, campus sustainability, or divestment. During these trainings students were able to learn more about their chosen issue and engage in some brainstorming about how we can take action around these issues as a state. A lot of great ideas happened during these sessions, and I’ll be posting all of the notes taken around each issue very soon! For now just know that the MSSC will be re-launching its working groups so that students have a chance to participate in state planning for action around all of these issues.

MSSC Student Summit 024

MSSC Student Summit 029

We also had some fun skill building trainings! Students could choose to learn more about grassroots tactics, leadership development, sustainable gardening, strategic direct action or arts and activism

Demonstrating some grassroots outreach!

Demonstrating some grassroots outreach!

MSSC Student Summit 042

Making signs for CMU’s Community Garden

After a total of 440 hours of training (4 hours per person!) we had some great evening activities planned!

We skyped with 350.org’s Bill McKibben and got to hear about some of the most important work being done in the world- the work to limit the power that fossil fuel companies have to pollute freely and buy our politics. We also got to ask him some good questions, like what we think Obama will really do about the climate crisis and what our world would look like if we take serious action.

The part of our summit that everyone was most nervous about turned out to be wonderful! In order to keep costs down, we opted to have a student talent show for Saturday evening’s entertainment, and then we all spent the night in a nearby gymnasium.

Our talent show was a huge hit and we got to discover how many talented and brave activists we have in our midst! We had 10-15 people perform, and we ended up raising $60 to donate to help Highland Park install solar street lights. This was such a special part of the summit for me, because it truly showed how much love there is in our movement. We were able to create an extremely safe space in which everyone felt comfortable performing, and everyone who did perform was cheered on and celebrated by everyone in the audience.

Jordan Lindsay, MSU, sharing some poetry about taking responsibility for your food choices.

Jordan Lindsay, MSU, sharing some poetry about taking responsibility for your food choices.

Traven Lawrence, CMU, playing the Native American flute

Traven Lawrence, CMU, playing the Native American flute

Brian Smigielski, GVSU, playing the guitar and singing

Brian Smigielski, GVSU, playing the guitar and singing

Talent show finale- Alysha and Mariah (CMU) led everyone in Batuka!

Talent show finale- Alysha and Mariah (CMU) led everyone in Batuka!

And if you’re wondering what its like to spend the night in the gym with our movement, some great things happened! Including music making, yoga, parachute games, and igloo building!



More on that igloo…while there we helped CMU’s campaign to ban the sale of bottled water on campus (Take Back the Tap!) construct a visual that they can put on campus to help spread awareness about the issue. In a daring new feat, we helped them create an igloo made out of water bottles that they had found on campus. It turned out really well!





After a great Day 1, we all returned to CMU’s Bovee University Center (without too many complaints from sleeping on a  hard floor!) to engage in a day of networking, knowledge sharing, and brainstorming about how we can apply what we’d learned. We came up with a statewide calendar of events, and got to build the relationships that will allow us to move forward with continued collaboration and communication. We also created a banner that says “Destruction Knows no Borders” to carry with us at our upcoming trip to DC for the climate rally!

MSSC Student Summit 073

MSSC Student Summit 063

Overall it was a wonderful weekend filled with wonderful people! For all I believe this was a great source of inspiration, we don’t always get to see and hear the people that are working alongside us in the fight for climate justice and a better world. I know that many students left this summit with plans to collaborate more on their campus or get more involved with the MSSC!

For any students looking to continue working with your statewide movement, join one of our working groups to get started on planning for more statewide action! Any and all students can also feel free to contact me for any support that myself or the MSSC can offer. I hope to be on campuses supporting student work a lot this spring! Email me at starkeel@gmail.com or give me a call at 616 212 7443

With that we’re on to our next adventure- 55 of us will be attending the largest climate rally ever! Look forward to some more posts about that. I also hope to publish some thoughts about our summit from the students who attended- stay tuned for more good stuff!

Love to all of our supporters and students!


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