Going for the Green: Confronting the Dirty Energy Dilemma

April 18, 2013
Douglas Jambard-Sweet

Going for the Green: Confronting the Dirty Energy Dilema Conference
Written by Stacy Jurich | | sjurich [at] toledofreepress.com

Polly Peterson is a native of Northwest Ohio and has been promoting, studying and working in all the aspects of sustainability for more than 20 years.

Toledo Move to Amend and Western Lake Erie Sierra Club are hosting a free grassroots conference to educate, organize and develop strategies for sustainable energy solutions. “Going for the Green: Confronting the Dirty Energy Dilema” will be held 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 27 at University Church, 4747 Hill Ave.

SJ: Where did the idea for the “Going for the Green” conference come from and why?

PP: The idea for an energy-focused conference came out of growing public awareness related to oil and energy companies’ adherence to a fossil fuel-based economy despite the apparent negative impacts.  Specifically there is increasing concern for the health and environmental impacts of fracking and tar sands extraction practices.  But more immediate to Northwest Ohio, there is also real concern over the future of operations at Davis Besse and potential safety issues.

SJ: What is the purpose and desired outcome of the conference? Who should attend?

PP: With the conference, we want to present some of the concerns for our present state of “dirty energy,” but also focus on new, more sustainable possibilities and rethink the old energy framework. Our need for energy in this country seems almost insatiable.  It is a central part of all of our lives.  So this conference is important for everyone to attend and to gain a better understanding about how our energy sector operates.  It should, however, particularly appeal to those who want to explore how we can create more green energy options locally.

SJ: The focus of the panel discussions is “Establishing Grassroots Democracy at the Local Level.” What does this mean as it relates to Going for the Green?

PP: Move to Amend works to encourage democratic participation and empower people to pursue grassroots action against corporate influence in politics. This influence has become stifling in many areas of our socio-economic system, including fossil fuel-based energy. We need more citizen action to demand longterm, cleaner energy policies and infrastructure.

SJ: What will happen during the local initiatives break-out sessions? How can the initiatives be implemented?

PP: The Local Initiatives session at the end is where we will actually be doing the work of grassroots democracy. This is when all of the participants will have the opportunity to present a solution-oriented idea to the full audience and then everyone will choose which idea they would like to explore further in a small work group for about an hour.  The goal will be for each work group to develop at least one doable action item for each of the group participants to follow through on after the conference. We hope that some of the work groups will continue to meet regularly to pursue additional grassroots solutions to our “dirty energy dilemma.”

The conference will address a range of current energy related topics including nuclear energy, fracking, climate change, the corporate fossil fuel agenda, energy policy, ethics and justice, renewable energy alternatives, sustainable solutions, local government and community involvement.

The keynote speaker will be Jill Stein, 2012 Green Party presidential candidate. Other featured speakers include renewable energy activist Harvey Wasserman, social justice activist Greg Coleridge and environmental justice activist Charles Simmons.

Those interested in attending are encouraged to register ahead at www.goinggreenconference.org. Cost is free, but donations are accepted.

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