By: Juan Jaramillo, Uplift Intern
What is Uplift’s story?
One could say Uplift has been millions of years in the making. The major uplift which lifted the Colorado Plateau from sea-level to several thousand feet, the continental drift that moved the Plateau from the equator, and that separated the Plateau from Pangea to the American continent, all came together to physically place the Plateau where it is today. But these are just the geologic forces that made the Colorado Plateau. The movement of peoples into the American continents, the settlement of at least 12 tribes throughout the Plateau, colonization by Spaniards, the Mexican Revolution, the Mexican-American War, the colonization by Anglo settlers, Indian Wars, and the mining of resources from these lands, also made the Colorado Plateau. These processes appear to be separate, but the same geological processes that move continents and raise plateaus, also lead to oceans rising and falling, natural resource localized abundance, and the creation and destruction continental land bridges. Without those processes, human culture very well may have never touched the Plateau until after colonization.
The organizers of the first Uplift knew this as they camped near the Grand Canyon, but they also knew that looking at the literal foundations of the region was not enough to tackle the problems facing us today. So they set out to start and inspire relevant conversations about critical environmental and cultural issues in this region which evolve every year. This manifested into a youth led conference which is centered around climate change, climate justice, and climate adaptation, while also being mindful of diversity, inclusivity, multiculturalism, and authenticity. In honor of the complex history of this special place, they named the conference Uplift after the geologic process that formed the Colorado Plateau.
Who is behind Uplift?
Uplift is run by a small team of hardworking, passionate young adults from all over the Colorado Plateau region. As one of our organizers, Brooke Larsen, explained, “A diverse group of young leaders are organizing the 2017 Uplift Climate Conference. The organizing team comes from all corners of the Colorado Plateau--from Dinétah to the mountain town of Durango, Colorado. They bring backgrounds ranging from geology to environmental humanities, which helps the organizing team create a conference that appeals to all types of interests. Organizers are leaders among the climate justice movement, tackling the most critical issues from a variety of perspectives with groups such as Outdoor Afro, the Little Colorado River Watershed Chapters Association, SustainUS, and other grassroots organizing collectives in their home communities.” You can see our full team here: http://upliftclimate.org/team/
Why is the 2017 Uplift Conference important?
Uplift Coordinator Eva Malis stated, “2017 is a critical year for the climate justice movement. Public dissent is rising and people are finding it harder to bury their heads. It is even more critical for young people to be gathering, strategizing, and motivating the newly activated towards climate action and resistance. Uplift 2017 is about creating a space for that.”
Therefore, the Uplift 2017 gathering will be a space that young land stewards can look forward to. Uplift organizer Kayla Devault said, “I’m looking forward to tapping into tough topics of tribal sovereignty in light of energy development. I work very closely in that area and want to start some difficult conversations around what just transition and solidarity truly looks like.” At Uplift, will be talking about what a just transition looks like to young people on the Colorado Plateau, and collectively crafting climate solutions for our region. For example, as Brooke put it, “the region [continues to be] a national sacrifice zone for extreme energy projects.” One can look at the Navajo Generating Station, the uranium Canyon Mine on Havasupai land, any of the other mines on Native lands to see examples of major climate justice issues.
Young people in this movement are rising. Those who care about the planet and its people are seeking a channel to not openly share their dissonance, but also their resistance strategy, their mindfulness, their pain, and their hope, so that our movements can continue to rise in these perilous times. Uplift 2017 will be that space.