From concrete to ethereal: lessons from the road


The Uplift team has returned home from the first round of community conversations. We owe a big “thank you” to those who contributed to the discussion, and we’re inspired to see the broad range of youth-led climate work happening already across the Colorado Plateau!

In Prescott, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Durango, Moab, and Salt Lake City, the climate priorities communities identified were fairly consistent even as the organizing approaches and individuals varied. Young people spoke with care about water use and protection, curbing fossil fuel extraction, protecting wild and sacred spaces, and supporting sustainable communities. Many expressed concern about a non-receptive political climate at a local, regional, and national level. Read more about Uplift’s community conversations, from a reporter’s perspective.

What to do about it? Solutions may lie in ideas ranging from concrete to ethereal: education, networking, creativity, art, protest, community, uncertainty, democracy, affordable housing, restoration, language, traditional knowledge, and more.

Myriad young people are already fighting the good fight. For the people we spoke with, work to address the climate conundrum ranged from protesting at BLM lease auctions to building affordable and sustainable housing. They’re already using innovative ways to reach people, from putting art and creativity at the center, to enhancing inter-generational collaboration.

Here's where Uplift comes in: as a connector between various groups and individuals working across the expanse of the Colorado Plateau.

Meetings were best attended when we had personal connections or made contact with existing networks, and we learned about the areas where we have more work to do building relationships and community. As a group, we aim to highlight and support the amazing work already taking place on the ground, and weave it into a larger story for our region. If you have meaningful opportunities for young people to speak up and engage, whether organizing events, campaigns, rallies, or something else, please let us know and we’ll send it out to our networks! To stay connected on social media, you can find us on Facebook and Instagram.

Looking forward, we’d love for you to join us at the conference August 18-20 in the San Juan National Forest outside Durango, Colorado.

As you probably already suspect, this isn’t your typical “conference.” It’s a celebration of what’s at stake. Uplifters can plan on camping amidst the ponderosa pines for three days of panel discussions, storytelling, and regional break-out groups to help strengthen the work you’re doing, or give you the tools and connections to dive in. We hope you’ll share your presence and ideas at Uplift this August. Please get in touch, because we can’t wait to work together and build community across this wild home of ours.

(If you need support to attend, please let us know, as limited scholarships for registration or travel are available.)

Calling Young Leaders!

Originally published March 19 2015 at

By Claire Martini, Uplift Coordinator

Want to be the next Ed Abbey, Winona LaDuke, or Terry Tempest Williams? Come to Uplift and get the tools to make it happen!

This April 17-19 in Flagstaff, Arizona, meet fellow movers-and-shakers, network with other young leaders, and learn tools to be more effective activists. The jam-packed weekend is tailored for conservation-minded young activists, Native youth, writers, scientists, and others. Together at Uplift, we will forge a network to enable change in communities across the region. See the full schedule  ›

We believe conservation must include young voices and encompass social, racial, and environmental justice. Be one of 100 young leaders gathering this spring to make the conservation conversation bigger. Geologically speaking, Uplift defines the Colorado Plateau; let’s organize and lift up a movement to protect wild places, preserve cultural traditions, and support responsible economies.

Have an idea like Wangaari Maathai, Bill McKibben, or Vandana Shiva? Let’s bring it home to the Colorado Plateau.

Learn from passionate Black Mesa activist Nicole Horseherder, hone your advocacy writing in workshops with desert poet/writer Seth Mueller, and grow into a guerrilla gardener with Flagstaff’s own TerraBIRDS. Check out our schedule of workshops, ranging from ecofeminism and traditional knowledge to climate science for activists!