I had this incredible experience working with Dorothy Cotton at college, who was Martin Luther King Jr.'s right-hand woman in the civil rights movement. She shared a story about "The March" of 1963. "Everyone always wants to talk about 'The March,'" she told me. "But it wasn't about the March; it was about the education—what was happening behind the scenes." She clarified her point further by emphasizing that the 250,000 or so people who came to march had all been educated and trained—trained to be activists, leaders, and disrupters in their own communities. The March was just the convergence of all of these moments and pockets of education.
That really stuck with me, particularly as I started to go to Powershift, which was the first place that really taught me how to lobby my state legislators. It was the first effort that really felt coordinated. That's powerful, and one thing that I realize we're missing in most of our "marches" of today. People come to hold signs, but they're not learning about what can really make a difference: showing up, sitting face-to-face with your legislators, looking them in the eye, and handing over your ideas for solutions so that your representatives represent you.
—Summer Rayne Oakes, author and environmental entrepreneur