Reflections from rootscamp
Awesome. Inspiring. Amazing.
As my friends know, I am guilty of using these three words entirely too much. Therefore throughout this whole blog I refuse to use them! I will find other ways in which to express my time at this year’s RootsCamp 2012 Un-Conference.
What’s an Un-Conference, you say?
Don’t worry, I had no idea either; however, after going through the first couple hours (and getting tips from some rootscamp alums) I got the hang of it. An un-conference is a conference with no set agenda. The participants develop all of the content and sessions for the weekend. An un-conference takes Van Jones’ suggestion at SSREC 2008 to “rip the agenda in half” to all new levels. After the opening ceremonies, people interested in leading a session write down their session title, which then gets placed on “The Wall.” The wall is basically a giant excel spreadsheet that gets manually filled in by participants. Once the wall is in place it is all hands on deck! There are so many sessions about a broad range of topics; therefore, I had to plan my day out right.
Sessions: Home-runs and strike-outs
On "The Wall," the sessions are described in various different ways. A session on how to use twitter could be titled anything from “How to effectively use hashtags” to “Broadcasting your message.” While the first title is very straight forward, the latter is vague. Therefore you could find yourself in a training session thinking, “I already went to a session like this,” or “This is not what I thought this was going to be about.” For this scenario, the New Organizing Institute (coordinators of rootscamp) have a simple solution: vote with your feet. If you don’t like a session you are encouraged to simply leave and find another. They informed me that it is not rude, you are just trying to get the most out of the weekend; however, it may be my southern roots but the first time I did this I found myself apologizing to everyone in the room. My favorite session that I attended was about the Tar Sands Action. The session featured Duncan Meisel from 350.org and other organizers from Nebraska. I felt connected with the Nebraska organizers after hearing about what type of state and regional stereotypes were associated with the region and how they shattered the stereotypes to defeat the pipeline.
Critiques: Where are the Youth?
While I was able to network with a lot of great folks (and see some warm, familiar faces) and attend very informative sessions, there was one critical element of rootscamp that I felt was missing: the youth. As we know here at Southern Energy Network, the youth movement in the southeast is providing real world solutions to our climate crisis. Our movement is dynamic, engaging, POWERFUL, and inclusive and is coming up with some of the most innovative ways to combat climate change in the Southeast. WE ARE STRONG! While I know that, it was a discourse that wasn’t discussed in any of the sessions I attended. The youth movement was not even mentioned by members of the youth climate movement (myself included). Why are we NOT talking about one of the most powerful players in our cause? How could it be that just four years ago we helped elect our president by turning out to vote in record numbers and are now all but forgotten? Now some would say that if I noticed this absence during the conference I should have led a session about the youth climate movement. I agree. There are no excuses! Why don’t we own up to the movement that we are working so hard to further? The most frightening fact is if we, who are in the movement, are not talking about the youth then who will? We need to stand up and take ownership of what we have built! We need to empower the youth around us to step up and make change. We need to remember why we are in this fight! We are fighting for climate justice. We are fighting for inclusive solutions. We are fighting for our environment. We are fighting for our future. And WE are making strides!
Overall, I left rootscamp feeling ready. Ready to come back to Mississippi and kick butt for a Green Fund (watch out MSU Pres!), ready to “black out” to remember the BP Oil Spill, ready to empower other youth leaders to make change on their campuses. Because I came back to the ‘Sip ready to roll my sleeves back up, I would say that rootscamp was a success. My shot of wisdom: Next time, be the solution.
Until next time baby squirrels,
Liz Kazal, MS Organizer
Check out this great video from rootscamp!
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