Dear fellow youth organizers,
My name is Sara Blazevic and I am a senior at Swarthmore College.
I am an organizer with Swarthmore Mountain Justice, a part of the movement for fossil fuel divestment and climate justice. The fossil fuel industry and college administrators are waiting for student organizing to subside as we graduate, but I am writing to pledge my commitment to this movement for the long haul.
I’ve been involved in climate and environmental justice work since I was sixteen, when I volunteered at an urban farm and community center in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans for two summers in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. I came to college looking for a political community because of my experiences there, and have been involved in the divestment campaign since my first week of college. I have seen this campaign go through many stages and phases, and I have helped build this movement from the ground up, but it didn’t really hit home for me what I was organizing for until late last spring, when the largest storm since the beginning of weather records hit Croatia, where my family is from.
The storm brought the heaviest rains in 120 years, and with them, thousands of landslides that wiped out villages and displaced land mines left over from the Bosnian War. Serbia and Bosnia were hit hardest, with eastern Croatia affected as well. I watched the storm develop from the other side of the world and found myself returning to images of that place that I have always loved so deeply. I pictured the river Dobra, next to my family’s home in rural Croatia, the home that my grandmother grew up in, that my uncles were born in, and that was bombed during the war, rebuilt by my dad ten years ago on the old foundations.
I was overwhelmed with fear and with my memories of this place that defined my childhood, my family, and my ancestry. I was terrified that this place that contained so many of my roots could be wiped out in minutes, picked up and swept away by water. The thought was too painful to bear.
The storm didn’t make it to central Croatia - it died out before it reached my family’s home, but not before displacing thousands of people, killing hundreds, and causing damages that exceeded those of the Yugoslav wars. I remember thinking to myself, This is what we mean when we talk about the climate crisis. This is what it looks like when communities that are deemed too marginal to be worth saving get wiped out.
I felt incredibly helpless. I know that in that moment, I could have chosen to close my computer screen and forget there was ever any storm. But I didn’t make that choice. I thought about the organizers I met when I volunteered in New Orleans, people who had lost everything, just like thousands of Serbs, Bosnians, and Croats were losing everything. They had inspired me by making the choice to continue taking care of each other in the face of uncertainty and of terrifying odds. I knew that I could make that same choice, and so, instead of being cowed by my fear of the future, I committed myself to fighting harder than ever, with the intention of organizing for the long haul.
That is why I pledge to remain committed to the movement for fossil fuel divestment and continue to organize for climate justice far beyond college graduation. I am dedicated to building the power of our movement over the long-term because injustice is not an investment. I will not graduate out of this movement.
In the face of fear and uncertainty about my future, I believe that we are capable of building a more just, stable, and resilient world, and that to avoid working towards such a vision would be a waste of our own power. I believe that we must do this work, because without this work we would lose our collective humanity.
In addition to continuing to organize, I also pledge to withhold donations from Swarthmore College until it commits to divestment from the top 200 fossil fuel companies with the largest reserves.
I take this commitment seriously, and I hope that you will also pledge to fight for the future of current students and of generations to come. Will you join me?
Onwards with love,
Swarthmore College 2015
Swarthmore Mountain Justice