Amanda Cheek, News Editor

The Energy Action Coalition held its Virginia Regional Power Shift 2009 event at George Mason University this past weekend from Friday to Sunday, where 114 students, volunteers and presenters traveled from all across the state to create a dialogue between students and organizers on generating and promoting environmental awareness and clean energy coalitions.

The 3-day conference included 25 workshops on varying green topics relating to environmental economy, social change and environmental legislation among others.

Attendees included students from over 10 colleges and schools across the state, as well as individuals that were not students, but were interested in promoting green ideas and fighting global warming.

Power Shift is held annually across the country by the Energy Action Coalition, and is made up of several regional conferences across the United States which happen simultaneously.

The EAC is made up of 50 youth organizations from all over North America which are dedicated to promoting the student and youth clean and just energy movement, according to its website

“Mason seemed like a great location to have an event and the students from GMU’s Environment Awareness Group were really enthusiastic to help host [the event], so EAC and CCAN [Chesapeake Climate Action Network] were excited to have the event at Mason. So many Mason students put a lot of time into making sure [the] Virginia Power Shift Summit was a success,” said Katherine McEachern, Virginia Campus Organizer for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network and the Power Shift event.

There were approximately 40 individuals involved in leading the workshops last Saturday and scattered throughout various campus buildings including Innovation, Krug and King David Hall. Attending visitors navigated the campus via maps and the help of Power Shift signs.

“Navigating campus was pretty good with the signs and maps, but at Lynchburg you can see straight across campus. [Mason’s campus] is big, but it got small really quick,” said Amanda D’Arcy, a senior and international relations major at Lynchburg College.

“I thought the workshops were great,” said D’Arcy.” It was great to network with other schools, see what they are doing and relay information.”

When asked what he hoped to get across to students and attendees, workshop leader and policy advocate for Environment Virginia, JR Tolbert said, “It’s all about grassroots [organizations] and getting a body of people to[gether] to speak to policy-makers . . . Students take a large piece . . . students always have been at the forefront of change in society.”

“Students have a stake in this,” said Rohn Hays, a workshop leader and co-founder of Green DMV, a non-profit organization promoting clean energy and green jobs in low-income communities. “Students can move into sustainable careers, [and] have a large opportunity as the country becomes a clean energy nation. [We will] need people who understand these principles.” A large part of the event was participation in the International Day of Climate Action Change. Attendees formed the number 350 in the Patriot’s Lounge in Student Union Building I on campus, symbolizing the number of parts per million of carbon dioxide that the world must stay under to prevent climate changes that are irreversible, according to, the global event’s website.

“Worldwide, the turnout could not have been any more impressive,” said Danielle Simms, volunteer and senior environmental science major at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College.

“[On Oct. 24], people in 181 countries came together for the most widespread day of environmental action in the planet’s history,” she said. “At over 5,200 events around the world, people gathered to call for strong action and bold leadership on the climate crisis.”

“Young people from all over the state had the ability to meet each other, attend inspiring workshops and plan together how to make the switch to a clean energy economy, which was the goal of the weekend,” said Virginia Campus Organizer Katherine McEachern.