by Jocelyn Sawyer.
This piece also appeared in the 10/18/12 issue of The Earlham Word.
Over the past several months, many groups and individuals have come forward in support of Earlham students’ mission to push EC to divest from coal – including famous Earlham alumna, Frances Moore Lappé ’67. When the national group Energy Action Coalition released a letter this summer in support of student coal divestment campaigns, Lappé, the author of the groundbreaking Diet for a Small Planet, was one of its first signatories.
When Earlham students began the Responsible Energy Investment (REInvestment) campaign in December 2011 with the goal of bringing Earlham to divest from the dirty energy in its endowment and reinvest in clean energy instead, it was one of only a handful of such campaigns. Since then, the dirty energy divestment movement has expanded enormously, with students at more than 35 colleges and universities across the country now asking their schools to pull their money out of coal and other fossil fuels.
Part of the incredible energy in the movement has come from the support of outside groups, organizations, and individuals like Lappé. After graduating from EC in ’67, Lappé went on to become one of Earlham’s most prolific alums, writing 18 books, including Diet for a Small Planet, the book that first exposed the environmental cost of the American food system and established Lappé as a leader in the environmental movement. Along with her daughter, Anna, Lappé founded the Small Planet Institute, which aims to expose the links between hunger, poverty, and environmental crises.
The letter signed by Lappé and others reads, “For too long we have accepted investments in … an industry that poses a clear and present hazard to the health and lives of our fellow citizens, threatens vulnerable communities from both mining hazards and their contribution to dangerous climate change, and spends unprecedented amounts of money influencing our elections.”
Lappé alone will not shut down the coal industry, and neither will the REInvestment campaign – but these connections and solidarities give the environmental movement power. To us involved in the REInvestment campaign, this support means even more coming from a fellow Earlhamite. Support from alumni reminds us that by running this campaign we are standing up for EC values on behalf of all members of our community, not just those of us who are currently living on campus. And to have current students and former students standing together in an intergenerational struggle for justice – well, how much more quintessentially “Earlham” can you get?