The History of SJSF

We’ve done a lot of cool work and grown a lot since we started in 2007. Read about where we started and how far we’ve come:


2007-2008: Massachusetts Power Shift

Students for a Just and Stable Future was founded as Mass Youth Climate Action in the fall of 2007 by four students who had met through a national leadership gathering of the Sierra Student Coalition. Mass Youth Climate Action set as its initial goal to help pass the Global Warming Solutions Act, a bill in Massachusetts that mandates statewide emissions of 80% below 1990 levels by the year 2050.

Then, inspired by the national Power Shift convergence in 2007, the students organized a 500-person Massachusetts Power Shift in the spring of 2008. The conference included workshops, panels, addresses by Senator John Kerry, Congressman Ed Markey, former CIA Director Jim Woolsey, and other prominent community, political, and religious leaders, along with a rally on the Boston Common and a lobby day at the Massachusetts State House in support of the bill. After the conference, Mass Youth Climate Action chose to adopt the name Massachusetts Power Shift.

In the fall of 2008, Massachusetts Power Shift adopted Al Gore’s challenge to reach 100% Clean Electricity over 10 years, and set about building the political will to make that change happen. That fall, the students engaged in the national Power Vote campaign to get students to pledge to vote for clean energy in the 2008 elections, while promoting the goal of 100% clean electricity on their campuses and approaching legislative allies in the State House. In the spring of 2009, Senator Marc Pacheco, Chairman of the Senate Global Warming and Climate Change Committee, and Representative Frank Smizik, Chairman of the House Global Warming and Climate Change Commmitee, co-sponsored a resolution written by the students of Massachusetts Power Shift, calling on congress to Repower America with 100% Clean Electricity in 10 years. They also convinced Congressman John Olver to pledge his support on that resolution, and were congratulated in the congressional record (along with the state of Massachusetts) by Congresswoman Nikki Tsongas for their courage and vison.


2009-2010: The Leadership Campaign

In the fall of 2009, Massachusetts Power Shift kicked off The Leadership Campaign in partnership with the Massachusetts Council of Churches, calling for the state legislature to repower Massachusetts with 100% Clean Electricity by 2020. For a period of 7 weeks, student leaders slept outside of their dorms, apartments, and homes powered by dirty electricity to protest the way we power our homes, and to show solidarity with present and future climate refugees.

Leadership Campaign Rally on the Boston Common | Photo: Alliance for Climate Education

Leadership Campaign Rally on the Boston Common | Photo: Alliance for Climate Education

At the end of their fall campaign, Senator Marc Pacheco and Representative Will Brownsberger jointly filed An Act to Create a Repower Massachusetts Emergency Task Force, again written by student leaders, in the State Senate and State House, with 15 co-sponsors. During the fall of 2009, we changed our name to Students for a Just and Stable Future (SJSF), to better explain who we are and what we stood for.

In the spring of 2010, SJSF continued the campaign with three statewide sleep-outs, fist in Amherst, then in Cambridge, and finally on the Boston Common. The campaign’s energy was focused on lobbying the Massachusetts Legislature for the passage of our bill. The bill had to pass through the Rules committee in both the House and the Senate to reach the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy. While the Senate Ethics and Rules Committee Chair Frederick Berry passed the bill to the joint committee, it was never moved through the Rules Committee in the House, and has not been revisited.


2010-2011: Coal, Caucuses, & Keystone XL

In the fall of 2010 SJSF focused on furthering its network of students, political leaders, local community organizations, and national organizations such as the Sierra Club, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and Greenpeace. We helped organize local events for‘s Get To Work Day on 10/10/2010, participated in political rallies for the Massachusetts 2010 election, held a statewide sleep-out in Worcester, and collaborated with Connecticut students to organize the Pricing Carbon Conference at Wesleyan University. At the Wesleyan University conference a Declaration of Clean Energy was drafted and later presented at that year’s UN Conference of the Parties in Cancun.

In the late spring of 2010, students from Connecticut College, Wesleyan University, and Yale University decided to launch Connecticut Students for a Just and Stable Future, formally expanding the organization beyond its Massachusetts base.

In spring 2011, students organized a fossil fuel and climate change-themed art show in conjunction with marches against coal.

Rally against Keystone XL at Senator Scott Brown's office | Photo: Michael Horan

Rally against Keystone XL at Senator Scott Brown’s office | Photo: Michael Horan

In the fall of 2011, SJSF organized around the Keystone XL Pipeline as part of the campaign run by the national Tar Sands Action network. We organized rallies, weekly lobbying trips to the Obama For America 2012 campaign offices, and a petition drive. Dozens of SJSF members attended a rally at the White House in November 2011, joining 10,000 other concerned citizens to urge the President to stop the pipeline. SJSF members were also heavily involved in lobbying and protests involving then-Senator Scott Brown as the fight against the pipeline moved into Congress.

In addition, SJSF worked to establish the first-ever environmental caucus in the Massachusetts state legislature. Representative Smizik and Senator Eldridge agreed to co-sponsor the formation of a Green Economy Caucus, whose first meeting took place on February 13th, 2012. The caucus will hopefully be a space for legislators to learn about and work together to “promote legislation and policy that encourages economic growth and job creation based on sustainable development,” according to the Caucus’s mission statement. SJSF has been instrumental in the founding of and the recruitment of members to the Green Economy Caucus.


What Now?

We still have a lot of work to do to reach a solution to the climate crisis. Read more about what we’re doing and how we organize today >>