Two hundred student leaders from 33 states and Canada converged on the West Lawn of the United States Capitol to put Congress in the ‘hot seat’ on global warming through peaceful protest. The students, standing in rows with 200 red chairs, formed a mass of color on Thursday behind large banners reading “Congress, You Are on the Hot Seat,” and “Act Now: Stop Global Warming.”
The voiceless demonstration was combined with personal lobbying by students with representatives in congress and the culmination of a seven-day grassroots activist training program, called Change It, designed to empower students to become the next generation of leaders for change in the environmental and social justice movement.
Now in its second year, the Change It program is an intensive, all-expenses-paid, week-long training program led by the international environmental group Greenpeace and sponsored by Seventh Generation, best known for its leading brand of environmentally friendly household products.
“Last year, we received an overwhelming response from students interested in learning how to be more effective change agents in the world, so we decided to double the number of participants in 2007,” said Jeffrey Hollender, president and chief inspirer at Seventh Generation. “I know that when this year’s participants return home, they will continue to ignite change in their community, and the world.”
Change It 2007 was facilitated by some of the nation’s top environmental leaders and featured speakers on global and social issues. Participants worked one-on-one with Greenpeace leaders who provided personalized training sessions focused on campaign strategy, lobbying, media relations and peaceful demonstrations.
The program helps transform students from merely participants in the environmental movement into leaders. Graduates of last year’s program have gone on to organize on-campus global warming pledge drives, Earth Day events and political lobbying. Some are working with university administrators to develop ethical purchasing and green building policies.