This is dedicated to Flight 3482, for giving me the time to reflect and Marcelo an old friend.Upon arriving at the Smith Terminal of Detroit’s Metro Airport, I ran straight to the security office to return my security badge. I worked as a retailer at the airport during previous summer and I never returned my badge. It seemed almost funny that the secretary at the office asked for no explanation for why I was returning my badge almost half-a-year late. Nevertheless, I asked no questions and went to board my first flight. Flight 3482 to Philly.
The TSA guard noticed the sticker on my laptop during screening—a big SDS logo. “Is that SDS—Students for a Democratic Society?” she asked. I smiled at her, “That’s exactly what it is.” She placed hands on her chest and looked at me relieved, “Well, I’m so glad all that work wasn’t forgotten.” I took my SDS pin off the pocket of my jeans and handed it to her. As I walked away I noticed her put it in her pocket and pat it, as if to secure it in her pocket. I smiled and walked to my gate.
Considering that I spent over 50 hours a week in an airport this past summer, what I’m about to say will be silly: this is really exciting to me. I’ve never really flown before. I’ve only been able to admire air travelers from across a cash register at the DTW Travelmart. My family drove when we went on vacations, and when I travel on my own I usually split the gas with friends. So now, sitting in the tacky rock-n-roll themed bar, I pop my $2.00 aspirin, raise my $8.00 pint and declare, “Here’s to Flight 3482!”
In spite of my excitement for my newfound affinity for air travel, I can’t help but shake the suspicion that the only bag I checked is skidding across the snow-covered airfield right now.
I thought a lot about why I was traveling to the nation’s capital during my first flight, which left me in Philly on a two-and-a-half hour layover. I’m flying to D.C. to attend the National Council meeting of the Student Environmental Action Coalition. Seems simple enough, but why? Why am I joining SEAC, why am I concerned with environmental justice? I don’t really know anything about global warming, climate change, or climate chaos. I don’t know much about coal, or energy policy. Long story short, I don’t know jack about environmental science.
So then, literally being an environmental know-nothing, what the hell am I doing flying almost half way across the country to join SEAC’s National Council?
By imposing an uninhabitable planet up on us, my generation is the sympathetic voice of the movement against climate chaos. We’re directly affected by the uncertain climactic future we are inheriting—and we know it. So we’re stepping it up to the corporations, policymakers and other suits to take responsibility and guarantee us a green future. Climate chaos is in many ways a generational issue and my generation has taken responsibility to lead this movement to victory. Fighting climate change and ensuring a clean, green and sustainable future is our mission.
An organizing rule of thumb that has been very valuable to me is to be relevant. Organizing needs to make sense to the group of people you are organizing with. It needs to be relevant to their needs and interests, as well as to their politics. If your organizing isn’t relevant than you’re just being another activist, so to speak.
I want a youth movement that is going to build alternatives to the exploitation and marginalization of women, people of color, workers, the queer community and other oppressed people. I want alternatives to the exploitation of our planet and our generation, by inherting a planet that cannot sustain us. I want a movement that is going to build these alternatives in spite of the “business as usual” crowd that is only concerned with profits and isn’t concerned with long term impacts on communities and our environment. I want to see all this so bad—for my own sake, the sake of my family, friends and neighbor, as well as a moral sense of obligation—that I’m willing to take on as much responsibility as I can to make all of this happen.
If I’m going to build this movement, than I need to be organizing with all the rest of the people in my generation against climate chance and for environmental justice and sustainability. I’m here in DC with SEAC because I’m catching up with the rest of my generation, who’ve already recognized our mission:
To stop cooking the planet, and build a green, just and democratic future for everybody!
The movement is growing fast. Faster every day. We will win.