Note: KSEC's Fall Fund Drive is happening right now! We're raising funds to support our upcoming in-person programming later this semester and into Spring 2020. Make a contribution to our efforts on our donation page.
Beginning on October 11, members of the Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition gathered in Barbourville, Kentucky at Union College for KSEC’s Fall Summit. Sadie Lawrence, a participant this year from duPont Manual High School in Louisville, had this to say about the summit:
For me, KSEC spaces always feel like I’m going back to a second home. The spaces are safe, inclusive, welcoming, friendly, and full of food, laughter, and good conversations. I almost never miss a summit just for those reasons. But a couple of other exciting also drew me to the 2019 Fall Summit.
This year’s summit theme was Transforming Climate Grief Into Climate Action. The first training we received was about Radical Imagination, and I was so grateful to be reminded of how much creativity and the arts connect to activism. They both seek to change and improve the world around them, require talent and teamwork, and can be incredibly powerful. It's why the two so easily intertwine. It was a great way to then apply radical imagination to our ideas for the next strategic plan. It was really exciting to be able to collectively brainstorm what KSEC could be doing in the next 2 years. We have so much potential to grow and mobilize as the youth climate movement gets stronger.
Finally, the last part of the summit I could stay for was the training on turning climate grief into action. This is by far one of my favorite KSEC trainings. I finally learned how to define all of the feelings that come from living in a world where my future has literally been cut short by decisions made before I was even born. I realized all of these feelings that had been swirling around in me were part of the stages of grief. I was remembering how hopeless the climate crisis made me feel.
But at the same time, I realized I wasn’t alone in this struggle. I realized my reactions were normal and understandable, and that people, especially indigenous peoples, have been experiencing this time of grief for centuries. And I remembered that there were people out there, young people like me employing revolutionary optimism and and radical imagination to combat climate grief. And most importantly, I was able to recognize that the climate crisis is here, but so are we.
We’re glad to have hosted Sadie and the rest of our participants this year, and we look forward to seeing everyone again at Spring Summit 2020 in Bowling Green! Details will be coming soon, so stay up to date with us on our social media pages and in our newsletter.
A new semester has begun for students across Kentucky, and that means one thing: it’s time to join the movement. KSEC is building a strong, united youth movement to fight for a just and environmentally sustainable future in our communities and beyond.
All this work contributes to the movement. Success in the movement, however, requires contributions from many people like you. Our movement has a role for everyone, so what’s your role?
Your role may be to join an environmental group on your campus; it may be to start one! KSEC can help you do that. We have a toolkit of resources with all the information you need to get a group off the ground, and our campus organizers are happy to guide you along the way.
Joining a campus group offers a variety of roles you can adopt depending on your ability and capacity.
Your role may be to improve the effectiveness of your campus group. Once again, KSEC can help. Our campus organizers can train your members in everything from how to run a meeting, how to recruit new members, how to effectively run social media, and beyond.
If any of these campaigns speak to the needs on your campus, KSEC can help get you begin to address those needs.
All of the roles discussed above are vital to the health and success of the movement for a just and sustainable future. Whatever role in the movement you choose, we have a way to help you succeed. All you have to do is join up and try on a role.
By Cara Cooper
To be honest, four months later and I am still processing what I’ve learned and how I feel about my transition out of KSEC. One thing I know for sure is that I will always remember those years as some of the best years of my life.
What we have accomplished together is more than I could have ever dreamed. Together we grew KSEC from a loose coalition of students on a handful of campuses to a thriving statewide organization with national recognition. And while the overall growth of the organization is exciting, it is not what I think about as the most important work that we’ve done.
Because when I think about what I’ve learned through organizing with KSEC, it is the individual relationships, friendships and mentorships that are what is really important. And I cherish those relationships more than you know. It is through our deep ways of being together and being in community that we are going to really change the world.
Sure there are impressive numbers. Together over the past six years we raised over $250,000, trained 1,200 young people in grassroots organizing, mobilized 2,000+ people to take action, won 6 campus campaigns, tripled our staff size, etc, etc. And I’m damn proud of that, too. But mostly…. Mostly I’m proud of each of you.
It is so much easier to stay jaded, to (falsely) assume that there is nothing we can do to fix the problems that we see around us and to just exist in our bubbles. But you have risen to the call for more. You have seen the vision that we’ve dreamed together of a Kentucky where we can not only stay but thrive, where we have a liveable planet and justice for all. You are the reason that this hard work has all been worth it. I am eternally thankful for you believing in me, believing in us and believing in KSEC.
I thought I would be nervous to leave. I worried that I would worry about the organization that I poured so much of my heart, sweat and tears into. But the truth is I am not worried. I am proud, I am excited and I 100% believe that our KSEC community will continue to kick ass long into the future. I’m so sure in fact, that I am pledging to increase my monthly donation to KSEC this Spring Fund Drive. We all know money isn’t everything but it does help make this work possible. If you believe in KSEC and the power of young Kentuckians, pledge a few bucks each month and show it!
I’ll leave you with a couple of things that I have distilled from my time in the youth environmental movement.
The Young Kentuckian is a blog of the Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition where youth share their work and ideas for Kentucky's bright future.
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