The Clean Energy and Jobs Lobby Day this past Monday was a huge success. Well over a hundred high school students from around the metro took time out of their busy lives to come to the Capitol and lobby their representatives to support a 40% renewable energy standard in Minnesota by 2030. It was a great demonstration of the power youth have when we come together and push for something we believe in.
Even with so many amazing opportunities packed into one day, there was one that stood out far above the rest to me: the youth-only meeting with Governor Dayton. I had the privilege of planning and facilitating the meeting, something that I will not forget for a long, long time. It finally dawned on me how big of a deal the meeting was while Will Steger and I were waiting outside the church where Lobby Day was held, ready to welcome the Governor in. Some of his assistants came to the church ahead of time to make sure it was all ready to go, and had his arrival time predicted down to the very minute. Finally, a big black SUV rolled around the corner and up to the back door where we were waiting (just like in the movies!). The gravity of the situation hit me right then: this was a really big deal, and somehow I had ended up right at the center of it.
Once I was up on stage with Governor Dayton and youth leaders from the Sierra Club, MPIRG, Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light, and MN350, I was confident and ready to go. Each of the students presented their story or question, and the Governor responded candidly and positively to everything we had to say. It was great to see that the leader of our state is such a strong ally of ours regarding clean energy. When I directly asked him whether he would support the 40% renewable energy standard we had come to push for he gave a strong and definitive yes, which gave all of us a jolt of confidence towards making this idea a reality.
The best part of the meeting was not what Governor Dayton said while we met formally, but what he did after. He stayed at the church long past his half-hour time frame and took time to speak with the hundreds of students there. I saw smiles everywhere I looked, from the students to Will Steger to the director of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Everyone was uplifted by the positivity and energy in the room. Lobby Day created many energetic new climate change activists, encouraged by the demonstration of support from the chief executive of our state.