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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

SEA camps out to pass MA energy law

Published: November 6, 2009
Section: News

Students for Environmental Action members spent the past two Sunday nights sleeping on Boston Common, directly in front of the State House in 40 degree temperatures as part of a Massachusetts-wide push for Governor Deval Patrick and the Legislature to enact a bill for the state to run on 100 perercent environmentally-friendly electricity within 10 years.

SEA will also sleep on the commons this weekend, directly in front of the State House as part of a Leadership Campaign, which has been spearheaded by the group Massachusetts Power Shift.

The movement “calls upon Massachusetts to lead the clean-energy revolution,” according to the group’s Web site.

The campaign is an attempt to further progress already made in Massachusetts, a state with one of the most ambitious environmental legislative resolutions.

This past Sunday night, Boston police approached the 70 to 80 participants and recorded the names of the Leadership Campaign at around 3 a.m. because the Common closes to the public every evening.

No legal action has been taken thus far, and SEA representatives said regardless of inconveniences SEA will be heading back this Sunday.

SEA also plans to make a stand at Brandeis itself.

“We’re going to sleep out on some kind of central location, possibly by the Brandeis statue,” said Galen Pardee ’11, SEA’s Leadership Campaign coordinator who supervises the Boston trips. “We’re shooting for about 25 to 30 people, and that’s a good spot for foot traffic; we want to be seen.”

“I think it’s worth our time to get the message out, that there is at least one state that is seriously considering going toward 100 percent clean energy,” Pardee said.

“Everyone has said 80 percent by 2050,” he said, “but the science has changed. We can update it, and change the amount in the plan.”

He said that the Legislature has already admitted that it was possible, and SEA and other state environmental advocates just want a realization of promises.

SEA’s Campus Outreach Coordinator Nera Lerner ’12, who oversees all off-Brandeis initiatives, said the most interesting part of the Leadership Campaign was the way it could unite people of all persuasions: the Massachusetts Council of Churches is participating in the movement with the college students of the campaign.

“Essentially the agenda puts a creative spin on energy movements,” Lerner said. “The perspective is that, when you’re thinking about what faith is, the individual being part of something larger, like God, it’s the same thing in environmentalism.”

Lerner added that this intersection between faith and green activism could be good for the movement as a whole.

“If everything went downhill in the environment, it’s the same thing in losing faith. They’re both spheres in which the concept is bigger than the single person,” she said.

“This is why the Leadership Campaign is amazingly successful beyond a grassroots movement, because when you’re thinking about activism, it makes sense if the organization is run by the people who will have to change the way things are now.”