News Brief: Environmental conference inspires activism

EcoConference 2001 hosted 1,500 students from around the country on GW’s campus, including more than 50 students from GW, Oct. 19 to 21. The goal of the event was to teach students how to get involved with environmental issues and give them the tools to be effective in their activism, said senior Amanda Fisher, president of Free the Planet GW.

“The theme was that we’re the next generation, but we have the power now as students to fix the problems we see around us,” Fisher said.

About 150 GW students also volunteered to help organize, including setting up workshops and registration tables.
Students attended panels and workshops that included topics such as “Power From the Passerby: Building Your Grassroots Organization,” “Wild Utah: America’s Redrock Wilderness” and “Nuclear Waste in My Hometown? Hell No, We Won’t Glow!” People from the same regions also met to discuss issues pertinent to their area.

The conference opened with keynote addresses from Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) along with representatives from the Environmental Justice and Human Rights Activists, Free the Planet, Sierra Club and Greenpeace. The closing event was held at the Washington Monument and featured Lois Gibbs, an activist from Environment and Justice who organized “Love Canal,” a campaign to clean the waters of New York.

“This conference was a great success,” said Kimberly Larson, associate political director from the National Association of State Public Interest Research Groups. “Normally we only have this once every two years, but people were so inspired that they want to plan one for next year.”

“There was so much energy,” Fisher said. “Students came wanting to learn and make a difference.”

-Becky Guyon

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