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Friday, 17 February 2012 08:53

Look Out America, Here Comes the Midwest

There's something unique about the Midwest. Of course, every geographic region of the country has its own style, its own vibe, its own culture to be proud of.  But as a born and raised Midwesterner, it's always seemed to me that the Midwest is basically begging to become the hub of a new, sustainable future for America.  State environmental coalitions across the Midwest have been growing, and the Midwest Powershift of October 2011 proved that Midwesterners are committed to working together on environmental issues.

Out of a vast array of already existing networks and organizations arises the Midwest Youth Coalition, which, "by pooling time and resources, …will reduce redundancy, provide models and outlines for new campaigns just coming online and offer a regional set of cohesive communication messages" (MYC Mission Statement).  Most importantly, the Midwest Youth Coalition seeks to solidify and grow existing networks and relationships both in and among the Midwestern states.

Currently, the Midwest Youth Coalition has one Steering Committee member from each of 6 different Midwest States (listed below), as well as a Communications Lead, Marie Donahue.  Our Steering Committee Chair is an as yet undecided position, but we have the guidance of the amazing Abby Fenton of the Will Steger Foundation to help us through the process of Coalition building. Over the next year, we hope to solidify specific goals and issues for the Midwest Youth Coalition to address, as well as to grow our networks and grow as a coalition in general.

We are:

  • Illinois: Rafael Hurtado
  • Michigan:  Marion Berger
  • Ohio: Casey Slive
  • Minnesota: Carlos Dabu
  • Wisconsin: Amanda Lazzari
  • Iowa: Holly Jones

Together, we will work to increase cooperation and work among the states of the Midwest, and to address major issues affecting the Midwest as a whole.  Although we're in the very earliest of our development stages, I can already tell the Midwest Youth Coalition will do great things. We are passionate, we are innovative, and we are ready for action.  Our states are the homes of manufacturing giants such as Detroit, craving the production of solar panels and wind turbines.  Our vast farmlands and Great Lakes provide ample opportunity for wind power.  We see the potential, and we know that that potential can only be reached through our collaboration.  We're ready to show the nation just what the Midwest is capable of.

And while we each have our own goals, our own dreams of what we want the Midwest Youth Coalition to do for the Midwest, we're united in the fact that we're ready to work together to create widespread change.  Personally, I'm ready for the Midwest to become America's first large-scale green economy.  As an avid longtime participant in the Green Economy Leadership Training and native of the city of Detroit, I'm passionate about transforming the Midwest economy to a more sustainable economy in all senses of the word.  And it is only through the innovation of our youth and the passion of our united activists that we will make this shift.

Working together, the possibilities of what we can accomplish are limitless.  So get to know us! You'll be hearing much more from us over the course of the next year.

Full versions of our current vision and mission statements are listed below:


The Midwest Youth Coalition is a grassroots network that seeks to secure a just and ecologically responsible future.  By coordinating collaborative campaigns across Midwest campuses and communities, and by providing a space to share skills, resources and ideas, we will bring a solutions-oriented approach to our most difficult environmental challenges.


The Midwest Youth Coalition envisions a shared space for Midwest youth to exchange skills, ideas and models, to encourage and facilitate discussion and to offer guidance and support to statewide coalitions trying to get off the ground. This space will likely take the form of a website that can host various resources, a monthly or bi-monthly conference call to keep state leaders up to date on the going-ons in the rest of the region, and a steering committee that can support regional events and campaigns.

The Coalition will seek to support statewide coalitions in each of the Midwest states and to assist those coalitions in the work they do. Midwest is defined at this point as Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. By pooling time and resources, the Coalition will reduce redundancy, provide models and outlines for new campaigns just coming online and offer a regional set of cohesive communication messages. Finally, the Coalition will help build valuable relationships and community throughout the Midwest.

Join us!

Published in Midwest

MN Energy ChallengeThe Will Steger Foundation is working closely with the Center for Energy and Environment (CEE) through our YEA! MN program to connect schools and student leaders with the Minnesota Energy Challenge, a program of CEE.  The goal of this collaboration is to educate Twin Cities metro area students about the importance of energy conservation, inspire student-led action projects, and to motivate schools to find creative and constructive ways to save energy.

Published in Local (Minnesota)

Focus the NationThe Steger Foundation is proud to partner with Focus the Nation in our mission to educate, empower, and engage a new generation of climate leadership on a local, regional, national, and international scale. A nationally based organization, Focus the Nation (FTN) accelerates the transformation to a clean energy future by fostering connections between generations, and empowering young people through education, civic engagement, and action.

All FTN programming is intensely focused on empowering young people’s imaginative, civic and systems-thinking capacities so they can become powerful agents of change in their own communities. The skills that young people gain through FTN programming can be applied for decades in addressing the root causes that affect our current environmental, social, political and entrepreneurial challenges.

As part of a national program aimed at engaging climate youth leadership across the country, FTN is launching Clean Energy Forums a core component of their part 'Forums-to-Action program.  Aimed at developing new student leaders to drive solution oriented clean energy collaborations between their campuses and communities, the F2A program provides students with leadership skills, energy literacy, experiential learning and professional development.

The following Clean Energy Forums are being hosted in the Midwest this February and are open to the public:

Energy Innovation

University of Wisconsin Madison, Feb 15th

Through Focus the Nation’s Forums-to-Action Program, a multidisciplinary group of UW-Madison students is planning a clean energy forum for February 15th, 2012. This year’s event will focus on ways the campus and Madison community can speed adoption of energy efficiency and conservation measures in buildings. Students and campus leaders will come together with energy experts, business leaders, and elected officials to identify roadblocks and solutions in this effort to pick the low hanging fruit known as ‘negawatts’. One panel session will seek innovative solutions to get more rental property owners investing in energy efficiency retrofits. A brainstorming session over dinner will inform an action plan which students will implement over the next semester(s). This event represents a great opportunity for the campus and Madison community to come together in addressing an issue of great import.

The event is free and open to the public. It will take place February 15th, 2012 from 3-7pm in Union South, Varsity Hall III.

Who should attend:

  • Students or community members interested in energy efficiency, energy policy, or renewable energy
  • Business leaders
  • Elected officials

Focus the Nation is now accepting applications to launch September 2012 teams. This spring they will be selecting one school in each state across the US to participate in our F2A programming. Sign up to host a forum for 2013.

Published in Midwest

Emerging from a several years of strategic conversation, cross-state collaboration, and the intense growth of the youth climate movement here in the Midwest, a fledgling coalition is rising. Following in the spirit of regional coalitions launched in the Southeast (Southern Energy Network) and Northwest (Cascade Climate Network), the Midwest Youth Climate Coalition seeks to deepen connections between key youth climate organizations and activists across the Midwest and foster a coordinated approach to regional and national challenges and opportunities.

Published in Local (Minnesota)

 LisaJacksonOn Tuesday, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson spoke at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities about the role of science in public health and environmental protection policy. The audience also got a glimpse of Jackson's personal life. She shared the story of her own son who suffers from asthma and her favorite policy, the "right to know" laws (I'm speculating this may have inspired the latest EPA website that makes information about the nation's largest greenhouse gas emitters searchable though an interactive map).

Published in Climate News
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