NWF Intern Alex Costakis: “My first time at Power Shift”

I’ve spent the last week or so attempting to capture the essence of my Power Shift 2011 experience in little more than a thousand words. Quite frankly, this is one of the hardest things I have ever done.  As a first time Power Shift conference attendee, I now know that no amount of pictures, personal stories, or descriptions could possibly prepare you for what I can now only describe as a truly life changing experience.

As I think back on all that happened that weekend, my brain is constantly reassessing and recalculating, struggling to understand the magnitude of what we accomplished over those fleeting four days in DC.

At first, the scientist in me clung to the numbers of the event as a way of understanding.  I knew what a room full of 200 people looked like; I could imagine it in my head. I tried desperately to multiply that room to prepare myself for what a crowd of 10,000 people would look like. I probably got close to imagining the numbers correctly; however, what I didn’t account for was the simply enormous amounts of energy that can only come from thousands of people gathering together to fight for one, collective cause.

Next, my mind focused more narrowly on the individuals attending Power Shift. A farmer’s son who drove 20 hours from Minnesota on his own dime; a privileged and wealthy university student who lives by the motto “To whom much is given, much is required”; a resident of Louisiana who walked to DC in protest of the gulf coast oil spill disaster; a youth leader just like me attending Power Shift for the first time, eyes wide, taking in all that they possibly can.


To this day, my head is still swimming with all the different stories I heard from people that weekend and the diversity and dedication of the individuals within our movement stood out like a shining beacon of solar power.

In the end, the thought that absolutely blew my mind was the connection between the massive numbers I saw and experienced with the personal stories I heard. Listening to each of those story tellers, I realized that each of them planned to go back to their homes, their campuses, their communities and continue to the fight for clean energy, for our planet. All of the sudden I was overwhelmed with an image of 10,000 dots spread across the country, slowly mushrooming larger and larger until the entire map was completely covered.

And you know what, it was beautiful. It was Green.