It is clear that our government is not going to be our savior in the fight to resist corporate greed and environmental destruction and that it is up to us, standing in solidarity with indigenous communities, communities of color, LGBTQ+ communities, and other marginalized folks to create our own solutions. Watching the militarized police force at Standing Rock brutalize indigenous people trying to protect their clean water and sacred lands for the sake of fossil fuel interests is scary. Watching appointment after appointment of anti-social justice, climate deniers to the White House is terrifying. It speaks to a turning point in our country and in our movements.
But I can’t help but feel hopeful, too, looking at the hundreds and hundreds of KY Student Environmental Coalition members dedicated to justice and our collective future. I don’t want to put faith in elected officials anymore, I want to put my faith in you.
Sure, there is a lot of work to be done and things are bound to get worse before they get better. But we’ve been laying the groundwork for this fight for years. Right now, KSEC members are doing amazing organizing work on their campuses, working to ensure youth voices are heard in Frankfort and at important decision making tables across the just transition movement, and training their peers with the skills they need to build a better future through our week-long summer camp, Catalyst. I am inspired by this work and the work I see other organizations and movements taking on, leading with love and justice at the forefront.
- We’ve trained nearly 400 young people in grassroots organizing skills!
- We’ve engaged 500 active volunteers
- We now have 1,600 members from all across the state on over 20 campuses!
- We’ve developed 84 leaders
- We’ve hosted 12 planning gatherings and youth forums and 4 witness tours
- Across the state and all our campus groups we’ve had 42 events!
- We’ve had 21 meetings with legislators
- Our Political Working Group has collected 850 petitions for renewable energy
- We’ve elevated the voice of young people 25 times in the media and through publishing 10 blog posts and our new monthly radio show!
- We hired a new Americorp VISTA position and two new part-time organizers
A few 2016 Campus Highlights
- NKU launched a new campaign around composting and ending food waste on campus
- KSU’s Green Society played a huge role in ReForest Frankfort and got approval to install monarch waystations on campus
- Manual High School launched a campus-wide environmental education program and hosted a successful earth day celebration
- Murray State helped start several community wildflower gardens, hosted a hemp educational event and cleanups at a local park and in the city. They also took several trips to experience the local natural environment
- Bluegrass Youth Sustainability Council hosted a county-wide environmental Idea Fest, similar to TED talks which brought together students from middle and high schools across Fayette County
- EKU hosted several environmental education events to build community within the campus around environmental issues.
- UK’s Greenthumb recruited 9 new leaders and hosted an awesome rally on campus for their Climate Action Plan campaign called “Yes we won, but we’re not done!”
- UofL’s Green Initiatives held an event aimed at teaching the campus community about conservation called “Toilet Trivia”, screened The Lorax as a way to examine capitalism's effect on the environment, hosted 12 service events and certified 8 students to become citizen foresters
With a new round of campus leaders and KSEC delegates, a new Catalyst Trainings team, a new Just Transition Solutions Tour, a new organization-wide strategic planning process and a stronger than ever political working group and state network, 2017 better watch out! Young Kentuckians are not sitting around and accepting the bad decisions that lawmakers are handing us, we’re learning to build our own solutions. And we are fighting back to protect our climate, our water, and each other. And it’s my honor to be able to support you all in this important work.
With solidarity and truth, we will build a better Kentucky. Together.