The Environmental Center has “positive action” as one of its core values. Our message is, “Doing some positive for the planet and other people feels great and is fun. So, join the party.” Still, we often get the response, “What’s the point?” And a dispassionate analysis of the state of the world and the structures of power make this a perfectly reasonable point of view.
In deciding what to do for this year’s Earth Week celebration, students at the Center decided to take up this challenge head on. The theme they chose was “Take Back Your Future,” and they have consistently reminded me that the note of defiance in the title is important. Even our positive crew feel that with the recession, bailouts, debt, climate change, and the potential for large-scale renewable energy still unrealized, their future is vaporizing.
This cuts especially deep around the issue of jobs. Students at Fort Lewis graduate with a good idea about what the world needs and plenty of passion to provide it. But it’s rough out there, and the opportunities to earn a living while doing something positive for the world are always harder to come by than entry-level service jobs. Why is this? If the supply-and-demand curve is the answer to all our problems, why isn’t there a robust market for jobs in public service? This question is deeply frustrating for students, especially when they see CEOs earning millions for crashing their company and the economy.
Defiance in the face of the disconnect between what is and what ought is necessary. But what does effective defiance look like? EC students have some ideas. Earth Week starts with a re-localization fair on March 29th and then continues with events on public service careers, alternative health care, and food security, and then ends on April 2nd with a campus forum on civil disobedience that asks, “What is the best response to a political system that defends powerful interests instead of empowering its citizens?”
The truth is that the impact of one week of events will be limited. But the impact of a campus full of students geared up to take charge of their own future and that of their communities could be devastating. Take Back Your Future is a call to arms. Let’s link them together and demand a future we can all be proud of. Visit the Earth Week 2010 website for all the details.