Values/Key Concepts

1.  We are a big, diverse complex movement of people pursuing many different tactics and strategies coming from many different perspectives.  This is not a weakness, but in fact a strength.  There is far more that unites us than divides us.  We don’t need complete consensus to work toward the fundamental changes we seek.  We can acknowledge (even celebrate?) difference and still work in solidarity.  Collaboration across many perspectives and strategies is necessary to build enough power to win.

2.  We are at a critical moment.  There is an increasing awareness of the urgency of our issues and new “front lines” are opening up all the time.  This represents a huge organizing opportunity, but also a huge challenge.  We must find ways to work together for deeper change in the face of constant crises and emergency situations.  The climate crisis is getting worse, and while that is starting to “wake up” the general population, we must be wary of reactionary responses to increasing social chaos.

3.  We must present a united front.  We recognize that our enemies are part of a single system.  We do not accept the victories of one community or struggle at the expense of another (Midwestern coal replacing Appalachian coal, natural gas replacing coal in general, nuclear or biomass as a carbon solution).  Divide and conquer is the oldest trick in the book.  We must change our rhetoric to avoid claiming our impacts are more important than another community’s impacts and express our solidarity explicitly.   

4.  Impacted people are experts in their own lives and “frontlines” communities must be at the heart of any struggle.  This has been said in many ways (“Nothing about us without us is for us”.)  Too often the environmental or climate movement has been lead by policy wonks, “Big Greens”, forces “inside the Beltway”, or well-intentioned, privileged outsiders.  We reject this model and believe that true leadership and power comes from below and within.

5.  We recognize that all life is interconnected and that we depend on an intact world/environment for our own survival.  We embrace cultures that honor life.  We have a responsibility to all generations past, present, and future and reject short-term solutions and systems that cannot be sustained (7th generation concepts).  We must operate from a place of love, respect and honor for all life.  (This was particularly important to indigenous attendees and other frontline communities. 

6.  We reject any form of energy economy that comes at the expense of a community’s health, life or culture.  All people have a right to clean air, water, soil, healthy food and a way to sustain their families that doesn’t damage other people’s access to the same things.  We do not accept that some must suffer for the sake of the whole (no sacrifice zones).  Encouraging and enacting alternative, healthy forms of energy and economy in impacted communities must be a core part of our movement.  (This was particularly important to indigenous and Appalachian attendees.)  This certainly includes the climate crisis, but goes far beyond it.  We do not accept unjust, low-carbon “solutions” (megahydro, carbon capture, etc).  

7.  We are confronting an entrenched power structure with deep roots.  There are many models and solutions for alternative energy and economy, but the concentrated power of the dirty energy industry and captured governments are preventing them from florishing.  (Lift the boot!)  We must confront the root causes of our unjust energy system - an economic system that values endless, unsustainable growth and corporate profit over literally anything else and a political system where big corporations control most aspects of government.