Blogging from an Amtrak train has taken me in some directions I didn’t really anticipate.  The blog entries are starting to turn into an unusual combination of climate activism, travel blog and climate change effect inventory.  That’s turning out to be educational and enjoyable for me and I hope it’s working for you.  But I think it might be a good idea to take a time-out to post a brief reminder of what this trip is all about.

Power Shift 09 is a youth climate conference happening this weekend in Washington, DC.  It’s been planned for ages – long before anyone came up with the idea of the Capitol Climate Action.  Power Shift is all about bringing diverse youth together to push for strong national climate legislation.  Global Exchange is sending a number of youth organizers to Power Shift and many of the youth and student groups they work with are sending delegates as well.

Power Shift is the largest youth climate event ever staged in this country.  It started yesterday and is in full swing now.  The train I am on is headed to the Capitol Climate Action, also in Washington, DC, on Monday March 2nd.  There isn’t any connection between the two events, although I know many of the people at Power Shift will also participate in the Capitol Climate Action because they are seriously concerned about the impact of coal on climate change.

cca poster

The Capitol Climate Action is expected to be the biggest climate protest ever held in this country, with around 2,500 people we already know of committed to attend.  CCA is the brain-child of environmentalist poet William Berry and environmentalist author Bill McKibben, both of whom have decided that respectful civil disobedience is required to stop coal-fired power production.  The civil disobedience approach that will be used is explicitly modeled after the civil rights movement.  Participants are encouraged to dress up and behave respectfully while demonstrating their unwavering commitment to halt coal-fired power generation by trespassing on the grounds of the coal-fired plant that powers Congress.

It is not necessary, however, to engage in civil disobedience in order to participate in the demonstration.  The organizers intend to provide opportunities for safe, arrest-free modes of protest.  The most important part of this demonstration is not the number of people who are willing to be arrested, but rather the number of people who demonstrate that they understand coal-fired power plants must be shut down.  Global Exchange is not encouraging one approach over the other, but believes each individual must make that decision on a personal basis.

If you’re along the eastern half of our Amtrak route, you can hook up with us to get there.  If you’re interested, check out the details at But whatever your mode of transportation, if you share our view that coal cannot any longer remain the dominant method of producing electricity, please try to participate in the Capitol Climate Action on Monday, March 2nd.

We now return you to your irregular and unscheduled blog posts.