Friday, March 7, 2014

#XLDissent Photo Set in the Mace & Crown

Here's a little teaser from XL Dissent last weekend! The real article won't come out for several more days-- jail release was too late for the actual article to get in on time. So for now, enjoy Sean's photographs and behold the awesomeness that was XL Dissent!

I'll be writing about it soon... Like in the next day or so. But for now, I am still pretty physically/mentally exhausted from all of the walking, chanting, time spent standing under sleet, etc. Totally worth it though.

Keep fighting!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Drumroll, Please...!

I've been Tweeting, Facebooking, and emailing a lot about a special announcement, and here it is!

The next big day of resistance to Keystone XL has been announced! In an action called XL Dissent on March 2nd, hundreds of students will march from Georgetown to the White House and demand Obama stays true to his promise to take bold action on climate. We voted for a climate champion, not a pipeline president. By approving this tar sands project he is betraying his climate conscious constituents. Help us tell him #noKXL. 

Join us on March 2nd. For more information and to sign up, go to

Please search #XLDissent on Facebook and Twitter to help us share our announcements
and the meme below!

We also need more campus point people to help get students to the rally! If you want to learn more about how you can get involved at different levels, email me at

Keep fighting.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Another Group to Know: Virginia Student Power Network

I thought I should show some love to another organization that I'm started to get more involved with: The Virginia Student Power Network. VSPN is a multi-issue organization, so they focus on social, economic, gender, environmental, immigration... everything-issues, basically, which is great! It's a progressive grassroots group of youth activists who fight for social justice, affordable and accessible education, and a green economy, plus so much more. As stated on their website, "We welcome young organizers and allies interested in racial, economic, gender, undocumented, LGBTQ, educational, labor, and environmental justice to build with us!".

On Thursday, February 13th, VSPN is having a lobbying day of action in Richmond. If you'd like to learn more about, just ask, and to register, click here! There have been several brainstorming conference calls leading up to this event (including one in less than an hour!) and some of the topics that have been brought up include:

  • Medicaid expansion.
  • In-state tuition for undocumented young people (who meet DACA requirements).
    • Immigrant rights
  • Increasing the minimum wage to $8.50 (legislation has been put forth on this)
  • Voting rights: eliminate the photo identification requirements for all voters that becomes effective in 2014.
  • Keeping the ban on uranium mining in VA.
  • Bipartisan redistricting.
  • Adding “sexual orientation” to the non-discrimination clause protecting state workers.
  • environmental legislation/emissions regulations
  • affordable access to higher education
That's a lot of work, but it's SO worth it! You're more than likely reading this because you have a specific interest in environmental activism, but if you have an understanding and an interest in how social, economic, and environmental issues are intertwined, or if you just want to be active in every way possible, this is a fantastic group to get involved with. We don't have a chapter at ODU, and well, we probably won't unless someone else steps up (having just founded the ODU VSEC chapter on top of everything else, I can't really take it on), but we are still collaborating and have active members. Other youth community members are welcome too-- no need to be a student!

VSPN will also be collaborating with us (the Virginia Student Power Network) to plan Virginia Power Shift in the Spring! That will bring so many more dimensions of activism and advocacy, and so much more diversity to the event. So, if you're interested in taking a stand for the commonwealth on ALL fronts, check out VSPN (Facebook / Twitter), or contact Claire Wyatt, at

For the planet (in more ways than one)!

We Were in the Mace & Crown... AGAIN!

This is probably my favorite article so far... Well, this and the Greenpeace article. That was the first, and will always hold a special place in my heart! <3

Anyway, check out this awesome article titled Student Target Dominion Power and State Legislature. This was written by the fantastic Sean Davis, a member of VSEC and newly-appointed news editor of the Mace & Crown (Convenient! Now they won't cut out the super-important "how to get involved" part anymore!).

On a side-note, I realized there was an article in the Mace & Crown that I completely forgot to post because sadly I was unable to get a hard copy. I figured I'd post that, and the rest, here:
Greenpeace: Learn How to Be an Activist
Student Represent ODU at Fourth Annual PowerShift Conference
These 10 People Want to Save Our Planet
ODU Student Help Form State-Wide Environmental Coalition
Student Target Dominion Power and State Legislature

Students Target Dominion Power and State Legislature

Old Dominion University students joined students from around the commonwealth to march in the state capitol to bring attention to environmental concerns and decry the ways in which fossil fuel interests are “blocking the democratic process in dealing with these concerns,” according to a statement released by the group. Dozens of members of The Virginia Student Environmental Coalition marched from Dominion Power’s Richmond headquarters to the State General Assembly on Monday, Jan. 20.

The marchers tied red string along the route to “illustrate the connection between the energy titan’s profits, climate change and the pockets of state legislators,” the statement explained. They fastened facts about the company and its actions within the state to the string.

“Dominion is the number one polluter in the state,” one read. “In their 15-year plan, Dominion seeks to increase clean energy by less than one percent” read another. The tiers and fasteners could barely keep up with the enthusiastic, chanting marchers in the brisk morning.
Reaching the state legislature building, students split up based on their district and entered the building in an attempt to speak with their respective representatives.
Armed with a tiny symbolic bag of coal and a drafted letter, ODU students Jugal Patel and Erica Guardino passed through security, boarded the elevator and located the office of Delegate Johnny Joannou. Not unexpectedly, he was not in, but a cheerful assistant listened to the two speak and explain points in the letter. She promised to pass it along with the coal when he returned.

Everyone gets so fired up about having the right to choose, but so few people are aware of Dominion’s monopoly on energy in Virginia. I wanted to make my community more aware of the fact that they don’t have a choice in their energy right now, and that more people should reach out to their representatives to fight this,” said Guardino, a first-year graduate student in secondary education.
Prior to the march, a member of the group read the letter aloud in front of the Dominion offices. “We have allowed money, in the form of campaign contributions and political gifts to corrupt our political system and silence the voices that matter most,” he declared. “Over the past ten years, Dominion Resources, through Dominion’s PAC have given more than $6 million in campaign contributions to our General Assembly members, across party lines…In a state that is being choked by fossil fuel interests, we do not feel that our poor energy policies are a coincidence.”

The demonstration in Richmond followed a meeting of the group to exchange ideas, discuss specific issues and plan their upcoming statewide convergence slated for later this spring.
“The atmosphere was exciting and energetic,” said ODU finance and accounting major,Miriam Novotna. “It was inspiring to see all of us come together and work toward a common goal.”
“Mostly the idea of compassion for everyone in a community. If we care for each other, we would also care for the environment. We need to be strong as communities and not as individuals. The construct of individualism in this society is working against any greater community efforts,” Novotna said.

Tentatively scheduled for early April, what’s been deemed “Virginia Powershift” will be a “convergence of youth activists from all over the state,” said Erin Fagan, who heads the ODU VSEC chapter. “Other states have had their own PowerShifts, and they serve as an opportunity to focus in on the things that we were only able to touch on for a couple of hours at national PowerShift… Reps will be able to have their entire groups trained in all of the basics and not-so-basics of organizing, campaigning, and non-violent direct action.”

If you’re interested in getting involved with the ODU Chapter of VSEC, please contact Campus Representative Erin Fagan at

By: Sean Davis
News Editor

Friday, January 24, 2014

Sea of Change

As much as this pains me, I'm going to post the mini-version of the documentary that I was a part of... *deep breath* Well, here you go!

(For better quality, watch it here)

VSEC has a Polar Plunge Team!

That's right! This year I am the team captain for the ODU Chapter Virginia Student Environmental Coalition Polar Plunge team! :) This is my fourth plunge, third for the Virginia Special Olympics.

If you can, please consider making a small donation to any one of the team members, linked below (I've met my goal, so I'd rather you donate to someone else). Or, if you cannot make a donation, share this page with your friends and family. Anything helps, and this is a truly great cause!

My page
Jesse's page
Erica's page
James's page
Graham's page

Polar Plunge 2012

VSEC Dominion Action Press Release

January 20, 2014
Drew Gallagher, 804-896-2654,
Dyanna Jaye, 757-375-067,
Sean Davis, 434-942-6827,

Student Coalition Stages Action Highlighting the Connection between Dominion Power and the State Legislature   
Richmond, VA. A statewide network of student-leaders and activists converged Monday morning at Dominion Virginia Power’s headquarters to bring attention to the climate impacts facing Virginia and the ways in which Dominion, the state’s largest climate polluter, is blocking the democratic process in dealing with these concerns. Members of The Virginia Student Environmental Coalition (VSEC)* marched from Dominion’s Richmond headquarters to the state General Assembly Building, fastening a continuous string of red yarn along the route with facts about Dominion’s political contributions and energy portfolio to illustrate the connection between the energy titan’s profits, climate change, and the pockets of state legislators.
VSEC works to unite student climate campaigns from across the state and build a platform for us to advocate at the state level. A lot of the students here today want to work in the renewable energy field and it is frustrating to see Dominion Energy actively holding our state back from developing in that direction. We’re advocating for our representatives to listen and act in response to student voices rather than to Dominion’s business plan,” said Dyanna Jaye, Junior at UVA.
They presented symbolic bags of “dirty money” to their respective state delegates and senators along with a letter encouraging them to stand up and sponsor effective renewable energy policies.
“We are demonstrating today against Dominion Virginia Power’s ability to unfairly influence our legislature through their lavish campaign contributions. We stand for a government that makes decisions that protect and benefit the public good of the commonwealth rather than monopolistic profits,” said Drew Gallagher, a senior at Virginia Tech.
An excerpt from the letter states “we have allowed money, in the form of campaign contributions and political gifts to corrupt our political system and silence the voices that matter most… Over the past ten years, Dominion Resources through Dominion’s PAC has given more than $6 million in campaign contributions to our general assembly members, across party lines… In a state that is being choked by fossil fuel interests, we do not feel that our poor energy policies are a coincidence.”
Among the student organization’s grievances is the fact that in Dominion’s own 15-year plan, clean energy production is projected to increase less than one percent. This comes amidst their leasing of a 113,000-acre offshore wind tract off the coast of the state that could potentially power 700,000 homes.
Virginia is one of only nine states without any utility wind or solar energy production despite vast improvements in cost and efficiency.
VSEC has worked closely with local environmental groups to request the support of several upcoming bills, namely:

  • HB 975/ SB 127: Hybrid Tax Repeal- Del. Rust/Sen. Newman, which eliminates an arbitrary fee that punishes hybrid car owners trying to do their part to curb carbon emissions.
  • HB 822/ SB 498: Renewable Portfolio Standard - Del. Lopez/Sen. McEachin, which takes steps towards strengthening our RPS by: removing animal waste from receiving 2x Renewable Energy Credits; and adds a 5-year banking limit to the RECs energy utilities can purchase and sit on while they maintain policies that do not produce homegrown clean energy.
  • SB 418/M&T Tax -Sen. Hanger/Del Hugo, which eliminates the Machinery & Tools tax for solar along with other tax exemptions, providing incentives to launch clean energy businesses in Virginia.  

As well as deeming several others “disastrous reforms for the future of our state.”
  • HB 915 - Del. Poindexter: Requires that any permit for oil and gas exploration on state lands also authorize hydraulic fracking.
  • SB 615 - Sen. Carrico: Establishes regulations compliant with presumed forthcoming EPA regulations. Directs Air Control Board to adopt separate standards for coal and gas plants, and consider whether less stringent emissions standards than those proposed by EPA are warranted on a case-by-case basis.
  • HB 1224- Del O’Quinn: Directs the State Corporation Commission to find that any gas plant built in Virginia is within the public's interest.

The day’s actions follow a statewide planning and action convergence that saw dozens of student-activists from a number of colleges and universities attend to articulate their collective frustrations and help plan upcoming events, including a conference for passionate environmentally-minded young people slated for the spring.

*VSEC was formed in September 2012 as tool to connect campus environmental organizations and motivated students to fight for necessary changes to state policy and raise awareness of environmental and social injustice within the commonwealth.