Michigan Student Sustainability Coalition

Unifying the voice of a generation in environmental solidarity

Intersectionality and Movement Building at the MI PowerShift Convergence

on September 10, 2013

By Marion Berger, University of Michigan

Yesterday about 25 students gathered from across the state of Michigan at the Michigan Pre-Powershift Convergence in Highland Park.  We spent 8 hours discussing recruitment strategies, including everything from tabling to fundraising.  Somewhere in those 8 hours, we spent an hour helping to harvest veggies and sift compost with a local group working on green economy development.  Groups from each college or university represented had bountiful opportunities to plan their campaigns together.  By the end of the day, participants were ramped up and ready to commit to getting 500+ Michiganders to Power Shift in October.

photo (25)

Amidst all of this, what was most wonderful to me was the lens with which most participants were viewing Power Shift.  Though we all have our own reasons for working on environmental issues and recruiting for Power Shift, it seems to me that more and more of my peers are approaching environmental issues with a greater understanding of environmental justice and how our movement is tied to all other social justice movements.  The systems of oppression that lead to the destruction of the environment and environmental injustices across the world are the same ones that are responsible for the racism reflected in the United States prison system, the oppression of women, queer and *trans populations, and People of Color across the world.  That said, there’s something I need to come clean about in terms of my environmental activism: I’m not an organizer because of climate change. Or coal plants, GMOs, or personal sustainability choices. I organize within the environmental field because I have seen directly how environmental injustices can impact a community, and I work to combat those injustices in solidarity with other social movements across the country and world.

I’m really excited to see that though we all come to environmentalism from different angles, youth within the environmental movement are ready to build a more inclusive movement that stands for Collective Liberation of all peoples facing injustice.  I believe Power Shift this fall could mark a huge turning point for the environmental movement–I saw glimmers of the incredible conversations we need to be having about race and the environmental movement yesterday, and I’m excited to continue them with 500 of Michigan peers and 10,000 of my national peers in 6 weeks. In solidarity.


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