bam. ok, now we push harder

powervotepeopleIn the climate movement, the talk is buzzing, the plans and visions for a new society based on the power of community are running like wildfire across cyberspace and through a thousand conversations. Under-the-radar victories are already popping up, accompanied by the excited buzz of weather-worn twenty-somethings activists who have spent the last five or more years preparing for the opportunities to come. Alliances are forming, ponderous organizations starting to pick up unheard-of speed, and teams of youth strategists are working to figure out how we invent the new New Deal. The answers are all right here – uniting climate and energy solutions with economic security, geopolitical stability, domestic equity and global justice – and its time to make it happen.

A friend of mine used a simple expression on his GChat profile to capture what I think the climate movement is feeling these days:

“bam. ok, now we push harder”

You see, this election was more important than we ever realized. Back in January, I was in a conversation with an amazing group of friends who are helping guide this movement from all across the country, and someone said “You know we’ve just established that these elections are not just important, they’re potentially critical to the future of the planet.”

Back then we established an important timeline: 23 months. Now we’re down to 13.

In 13 months, international diplomats, non-profits, businesses, and grassroots groups will converge on Copenhagen Denmark for what is already being called “the biggest and most important international meeting since World War II”. It’s the international meeting that is set to decide what the world is going to do about climate change.

But don’t get me wrong, this is not an “environmental” conference. It will encompass key decisions on the future course of development and define what we mean by “progress”. It will decide who has rights in the global economy, and whose solutions we invest in – whether the foundation of our economy is going to be built on centralized economic actors or the power of community. It frustrates me to no end that the “climate movement” – itself a title that makes people thing “its about the environment, not me” – has failed to communicate that this isn’t about interest groups anymore, its about carbon as the currency of the future – around which wars will be fought or avoided, economies will rise or fall, hundreds of millions of refugees will be displaced or sustained, cities collapse or thrive, and far more.

This is the moment – the solutions are all right here at just the key point when everything is collapsing around us and a bold new movement is coalescing around something as profound as it is powerful. Why the hell are we still sitting around in abstract discourse about a better world? This is just the beginning – and the politicos can’t do it alone – they don’t know how.

I think at Macalester, we resort to a sense of grateful incompetency; a sense of ‘well, there’s huge problems out there in the world, and I want to be a good person and do my part, but actually, there’s not much that I can do. I don’t have the skills, or the expertise, or the resources, and I’m really very busy. In fact, it would be almost arrogant or presumptuous of me to claim that I could, as if I knew better than anyone else!’.

What are we thinking!?

This campus is full of the some of the most powerful and capable people in this country, and we’re wallowing in a sense of our own incompetency? Come on folks, this is going to take everyone’s brilliant ideas, and a way of organizing (as I discussed last post) that allows us to empower more and more people to bring in their own skills. And we have power.

The guy who used the “bam. ok, now we push harder” is an amazing activist from Massachusetts who just spent the fall organizing the climate vote in Ohio, and is soon headed off to China to support students building a movement for clean development over there. Yesterday, another close friend who facilitates blogger communities based in Oakland California posted the amazing notification to the climate community that a recent court ruling just delayed the development of the vast majority of remaining proposals for new US coal plants (about 100 proposed facilities) by at least a year – long enough to get new rules together under the Obama administration that will block them permanently. It got into the news this morning, tomorrow thousands of youth leaders will be using it as a rallying cry against coal in a national day of action. This is historic – yet its still under the radar. One of my other buddies, who organizes low-income youth around clean energy solutions in Oakland, just notified me of, which you should also check out. And another group are preparing the major international campaign of to prepare the incoming Obama administration for leadership in Copenhagen by supporting their engagement in the upcoming December UN conference in Poland.


There is a vast and decentralized movement of your peers – kids just like you – coordinating in a vast array of campaigns to build a better world – and building their dream careers, a whole new kind of politics, and whole new socially just industries in the process. This is not about running cool events or small-scale community service – its working with others all across the country to rework the shape of society. And these folks are economists, biologists, vocational students, political scientists, engineers, law students, and folks focused on basically everything in between. This movement is growing, it is sustaining itself, and it is beginning to have a sweeping effect.


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About timothydenherderthomas

Timothy is the General Manager of Cooperative Energy Futures and a member of the Community Power Steering Committee. He's all about people power, and being the changes we actually want to see. Timothy has been heavily involved in community development and using climate solutions as incredible opportunities for local economic activity, collective empowerment, and self-determination. He does lots of network building with buddies in the youth movement as well as labor, faith, agricultural, small business, and neighborhood groups.

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