Reflections from the 2014 Fossil Fuel Divestment Convergence

by Eva Chaitman  (Earlham College REInvestment)

Two weekends ago, five of us from Earlham’s REInvestment Campaign attended the 2014 Fossil Free Divestment Convergence at San Francisco State University. Upward of 250 students attended the convergence, representing divestment and re-investment campaigns across the country. Together we discussed, compared, and strategized. We listened to speakers and attended workshops run by inspiring individuals who had dedicated their lives to creating real change in the world. What I learned from this convergence was enlightening and uplifting. I’d like to highlight in this article some of the points impressed upon me over the course of the weekend.

Mission Statement of Earlham College REInvestment Campaign:The Responsible Energy Investment (“REInvestment”) campaign is a student-led campaign at Earlham College that is asking our school to divest its endowment from dirty fossil fuel companies and reinvest responsibly. The targets of our campaign are companies that extract coal, tar sands oil, and fracked natural gas — companies that are responsible for numerous EPA violations and pollution-related illnesses/deaths, not to mention the greenhouse gases and toxic fumes that fossil fuels emit.”

Intersectionality and Solidarity of Divestment Campaign

Fossil fuel industries are the worst perpetrators of global climate change and environmental destruction. However the cost of continuing our support for these companies has a much broader scope. Fossil fuel industries create a web of intersectional problems. During her workshop “Decolonizing Lands, Minds, and Institutions” activist Hena Belalia of Peaceful Uprising challenged us to become educated on the “overlapping systems of oppression” in which the fossil fuel industry is planted. Coal companies not only exploit the environment, but also reproduce exploitation and oppression of marginalized communities around the world. Fossil fuel industries are a part of a system in which students experience overwhelming debt, indigenous peoples lose their lands, and inmates are treated as commodities in a prison system likened to a corporate business. Fossil fuel industries are a part of a web of broad economic forces in which institutions and industries puts profit gain over the well being of people. As a movement, we must learn how divestment from fossil fuel connects and attacks a multispectral problem. Dialogue with others is key to creating diverse solutions. Solidarity between ideologies and movements can facilitate the power needed to create change. This movement is a tactic, among others, to halting the overarching problem of unethical economics where environmental destruction parallels with social injustice. In working with the system in which we are embedded, there is a means through which tangible and strategic change can be made in fabricating a more sustainable economy.

Right to be Angry

During his opening speech, co-founder of Peaceful Uprising, Tim DeChristopher emphasized our generation’s right to be angry towards the generation that has understood the fossil fuel industry’s harmful effects long before we were born. The generation that precedes us has continued an acceptance of institution and industry that actively jeopardize our futures. Dramatic climate change, increasing imbalance between the poor and the prosperous, and expanding economic uncertainty have been widely acknowledged as examples of the heightening destruction present within our world. However, industries and institutions continue to remain in state of what DeChristopher condemns as being “complacent”. While the world that our generation is now responsible for continues to disintegrate, the institutions from which we ask for help remain comfortable in their decisions to be indifferent to our efforts. In trivializing us from positions of complacent power, the extent of suffering which our generation must face is deemed unimportant. But business must go on as usual; this is the disregarding mindset that we must continuously confront.

Elevated voices

REInvestment does not mean economic hardship for an institution. Rather, REInvestment, through conscientious, responsible, and tactical moves in equally resilient investment decisions, only seeks to render a healthier environmental, social, and economic climate. This earth upon which an increasingly smaller percentage of us thrive, has been mishandled and ultimately destructed. We must facilitate real change at an institutional level to curb the destructive path upon which we reside. The divestment movement, which includes Earlham’s REInvestment campaign, is a conglomeration of elevated voices. With love and passion for the environment, the marginalized and oppressed around us, as well as with fear for the uncertainty for the future of our collective well-being, we demand change. We ask, and we will not stop asking until the change we seek is created. DeChristopher said,“The job of students in the climate movement is to be the uncompromising moral of truth.” We will not compromise on present and future conditions of our world. We ask for an unambiguous and decisive action that acknowledges the importance of this movement. Through our collective voices, we hope to move our institutions away from playing by the safety of written norms, to making decisions according to what is right and just.

Check out our program that will be available to everyone at the convergence. If you loose your copy, no worries that’s why this is on the website! :) Orange Square Cover

Updated: Convergence Programming

Amazing people are coming to the Fossil Fuel Divestment Convergence. Check out their bios and workshop descriptions on our newly updated Programming Page!

Here’s a sneak peak:

Gopal Dayaneni is a member of Movement Generation. Gopal has worked for social, economic, and environmental justice through organizing & campaigning, teaching, writing, and speaking since the late 1980′s. He has been a campaigner for Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition on human rights and environmental justice in the high-tech industry and the Oil Campaigner for Project Underground, a human rights and environmental rights organizations which supported communities resisting oil and mining exploitation around the world. Gopal has also provided progressive organizations with support in Strategic Communications and Campaign Planning through the Design Action Collective and is an active trainer and organizer with the Ruckus Society and a member of the Progressive Communicators Network. Gopal is also an elementary and early childhood educator, working formerly as a teacher and as the co-director of the Tenderloin Childcare Center, a community based childcare center supporting children and families forced into homelessness.

Deirdre Lally is an organizer and organic farmer in rural central Pennsylvania.  After years spent in campaigns against mountaintop-removal coal financiers, she learned that hydraulic fracturing for natural gas had come to her family’s home on the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania, and began organizing.  Since gas drilling’s arrival in PA in the early 2000′s, she has been involved in direct action campaigns to protect state forests from drilling, quick-response community support efforts such as Save Riverdale, and is now involved in a listening project in a heavily fracked county in PA and community outreach and movement base-building work with the Shalefield Organizing Committee.

Freddy Lozano: Born in Barranquilla, Colombia and a union leader and social activist since 1990, Freddy studied Industrial Maintenance in Colombia’s main technical institute. He has completed his seventh semester in the Simón Bolívar University Law School in Barranquilla. He has been president of the Puerto Bolívar chapter of the National Union of Workers in the Coal Industry (SINTRACARBÓN).  In 2009, he received the first “positive” prize awarded by Public Eye in Davos, Switzerland, for his work supporting the communities affected by the Cerrejón coal complex.  He works for the CERREJON company (owned by BHP Billiton, Anglo American, and Xstrata), which operates the largest open-pit coal mine in Latin America.

Nació en Barranquilla, Colombia y dirigente sindical y social desde 1990, Freddy estudió Mantenimiento Industrial en la principal escuela técnica de Colombia, actualmente cursa séptimo semestre de derecho en la Universidad Simón Bolívar de Barranquilla.  Ha sido presidente por tres ocasiones de la seccional Puerto Bolívar del Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Industria del Carbón (SINTRACARBÓN). El año 2009 se hace merecedor al primer premio “positivo” que entrega el ‘Public Eye en Davos Suiza por su labor a favor de las comunidades  vecinas al complejo Carbonífero “El Cerrejón”.  Es trabajador de la empresa CERREJON, multinacional (bhp billiton, Anglo American, Xstrata) que explota la mina de carbón a cielo abierto más grande de América Latina.

977097_591493977551722_1714496320_o.jpgMarcel Jones is the Chair of the Black Student Union at UC Berkeley and resident of Afro House (part of the Berkeley Student Cooperative), Marcel Jones is a student organizer dedicated to communal resistance and cross-cultural coalition building.  Marcel has experience participating in multiple organizing  spaces including the UC Berkeley divestment campaigns from Israeli occupation and the Prison Industrial Complex.  Current efforts that Marcel is working on include the No2Napolitano campaign, UC Prison Divestment, increasing resources for Black students, chairing a conference addressing the school-to-prison pipeline, and increasing people of color cooperatives. Coming from a power to the people mentality and an intersectional framework, Marcel believes in leading with dreams rooted in a critical analysis of our realities.


Interested in helping with coverage of the the Fossil Fuel Divestment Convergence?

We want your help to tell the (amazing) story of the next wave of the youth climate justice movement.

We are recruiting for a team of “social media storytellers” – people who fan out everyday of the national convergence and help spotlight the conversations, and people, who are building and evolving the fossil fuel divestment movement. We’ll be meme-ing, blogging, tweeting, photographing, instagramming, and more.

We’re having a special “social storytelling training” on Friday, 4/4 – the first day of the National Convergence, at SFSU. The training will feature a introduction to movement storytelling, hard-won tips on breaking through on social media, and a lesson on how to make your own memes. It will also be a really good chance for all of us to get to know each other and start jamming.

Joining this team is a great way to meet fellow divestment activists. We’ll be getting together everyday of the convergence to hang out and tell amazing stories. No skills needed – just passion!

Interested in joining this kick-ass team?  Please fill out this form!

Call for Project Proposals

Are you interested in planning a National Divestment Day of Action? What about organizing a regional network of divestment campaigns in your area? Are you designing a multi-campus art installation, focused on the impacts of fossil fuel extraction? Bring your ideas for collaboration and movement-building to the Fossil Fuel Divestment Convergence!

Convergence-Logos_Megaphone-01CALL FOR PROJECT PROPOSALs

This year’s Fossil Fuel Divestment Convergence, hosted by San Francisco State University, is a gathering of the Fossil Fuel Divestment Student Network!  We will be coming together in-person to share skills, stories, and strategies. During the final block of programming, students will break-out into ten focus groups to workshop proposals for projects, such as a National Divestment Day of Action or a multi-campus art installation. This will be a space for fostering cross-campus organizing and building stronger ties between divestment campaigns that will carry us through the rest of the semester and into next year!

Our goals for these projects:

Dig Deep– Organize!  low-slow organizing, root causes analyses, intersectional movement building, anti-oppression, building organizing skills for the long haul, relationship-building within divestment/climate world and outside of it (we see this as the work necessary to “scale up” and grow the movement)

Link Up– connecting across campuses, with community and frontline groups, and with other justice movements; forming regional networks and the DSN; organizing convergences, meet-ups; cross-movement coalition building; organizing around shared targets (ie, fund managers)

Take Action– Mobilize! taking *strategic* action; direct action tactics, escalation, days of action, regional actions, mass mobilizations

Ready to submit your proposal? Click here for full instructions: Project Proposal Submission





Extended Convergence Registration!

Hey Everyone! We’re excited to announce that registration for the 2014 Fossil Fuel Divestment Convergence has been extended until March 16th!  This convergence is an in-person meeting of the fossil fuel divestment campaigns from around the world where we will learn from from climate justice leaders, build our own organizing skills, and strategize together as a movement.  Please register your school as soon as possible, we can only accept 300 students so it’s going to be first come first serve.

There are travel scholarships available for students in need.  In order to be eligible for a travel scholarship, you must register by 11:59pmPST March 8th and apply for the Scholarship by 11:59pmPST March9th.  If you need ideas/help brainstorming how to raise funds check out this awesome Fundraising Toolkit!

As a reminder, please register together as one school and not separately, this makes work on our end much easier.  We are also increasing our student cap for each school to 5 students per school.  If you would like to bring more than 3 students you may fill out the form twice to accommodate.  The planning team members would love to see divesters from all of your schools attend, so please check out the information below, forward it to a friend, and get a group registered to attend the convergence.

We are also excited to announce a few of our confirmed speakers and panelists.

  • Tim DeChristopher
  • Henia Belalia — Peaceful Uprising and Deep Roots United Front
  • Melvin Willis – Richmond CA Youth Community Organizer
  • Fredy Lozano — Colombian coal miners’ union
  • Deirdre Lally — Shalefield Organizing Committee

We hope to see you all there!
- The Fossil Fuel Divestment Convergence Planning Team

Join XL Dissent and the DC Divestment Meet-Up!



The Keystone XL pipeline is set to bring toxic tar sands from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf Coast, where it will be refined for export. As young people we’ve had enough: approval of the pipeline would ensure that our generation takes on the risk of oil spills, increased toxic pollution from refineries, health disasters, and a exacerbated climate change.

We are young, awaiting a future fraught with uncertainty. This will not deter us from participating in an act of civil disobedience. Indeed it has compelled us to organize one.

We ask you to join us in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, March 2nd for this action



A fossil fuel divestment meet-up with campus divestment activists from across the country will take place prior to the action training from 1-4 PM on March 1st at the Thurgood Marshall Center.

Getting ready for the Fossil Fuel Divestment Convergence 2014!

By Lydia Miller-Jewett

This January I returned to my school, Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana, from a semester abroad program. There are innumerable differences that one suddenly notices upon returning to a familiar campus after a while away. They are of varying degrees, from brand new buildings, to subtly changed decoration. But few changes can be as exciting as hurrying across campus for a class and suddenly seeing orange squares go by, pinned on back packs and coats!

    The orange square has become more and more visible on our campus and I have been lucky enough to watch this happen. What has made this even more exciting is that I remember at the Power Up Convergence 2013 when the orange square was presented to us with the hope that it would become a symbol of the movement — a movement that is connected, not separate from others. It is always important to remember that having a solid symbol doesn’t mean everything else is also just as solid, but it is quite an amazing step. And this step toward solidarity is just one of many.

To have a Fossil Fuel Divestment Convergence happening again, sure to be only better than before, is another of these steps. A lot of good happened during our time on Swarthmore’s beautiful campus. We started the weekend out in what was probably the best foreshadowing for what we have been focusing on so much more during this past year – we stood in solidarity with Swarthmore’s team as they confronted a trying board meeting, something we all can certainly relate to. And this is what I mean. We started it out by supporting others, recognizing that we are all in this together, and that we understand each other. But throughout the weekend we also had the unique and necessary opportunity to learn what differences we were all facing… different tactics, thoughts, starting places, and emotions…

We began some incredibly important conversations that are imperative for the success of this movement. We set the space to start looking critically at ourselves: the inclusiveness (or lack there of) in the movement, the privilege… the marginalization. We must continue to constantly check our selves… ask if we are working with or detrimentally speaking for our brothers and sisters. These are the things that we must continue to tackle as this movement solidifies. Because it is solidifying. It is making progress. WE are making progress. And with the Fossil Fuel Divestment Convergence 2014 as proof, the space for coming together and continuing to make this progress will just keep growing with us.