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Press Release

Students Human-Powered Invitation For Largest Teach-In In U.S. History

Mark Primoff



College Students Run and Bike from Red Hook to Albany to Deliver Global Warming Roundtable Invitation


ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—It’s midterm time, and as first-year students they’ve been at Bard only a short time, but that is not stopping Sofia Belenky and Nolan Gardner as they plan the Green Torch Relay, set for Friday, October 26.


The Green Torch Relay is the first key event connected to Focus The Nation—the largest national teach-in in U.S. history, which will take place at more than 1,000 universities and in all 50 states on Jan. 31, 2008. Focus The Nation is an unprecedented teach-in model designed to educate students on global warming solutions and engage them in a discussion with their elected leaders about necessary policies to curb the climate crisis. New York–area students have joined students from Oregon and Florida in planning their own Green Torch Relay as a creative way to invite those leaders to sit down with them in January.


The relay includes bikers and runners from Bard College, Vassar, the College of New Rochelle, and Skidmore who will deliver their invitations, collectively signed by more than 2,000 members of their communities, to the elected officials. Staff members from the offices of Senators Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton will be present to accept the invitation, as will as a representative of Congresswoman Gillibrand.


The relay begins at 8 a.m. Friday, October 26, at the historic Elmendorph Inn in Red Hook, and finishes on the steps of the federal building in Albany at 3:00 p.m. The route includes a noon stop at Congresswoman Gillibrand’s Hudson office before relayers head across the river to arrive at the capital by 3:00 p.m.


Gardner and Belenky are the two main organizers for the Green Torch Relay to Albany, New York’s state capitol. Their staff liaison, and Bard’s sustainability officer, Laurie Husted, is proud to see old-fashioned legwork in gathering the signatures: “The students are going through the eateries and dormitories, engaging their peers, getting the signatures, and moving on as the conversation turns to climate change behind them. This is how movements begin.”


For more information on interview and photo opportunities along the Green Torch Route, or on Focus The Nation, call 845-464-8025.



Bard quotes:

“I wanted to help coordinate the Green Torch run because I was excited to see the conversations we could generate about solutions to climate change. I think it is so important to generate this intensity and movement for a 'greener' future in our college community and also as a nation. Through so many colleges and universities coming together on this issue we can work together and have a greater effect. Meeting with those with political power will bring us all together to speak on the same level and share our understanding and knowledge with each other. This conversation is what learning and moving forward is all about. This is what change is about. I am so excited.” Sofia Belenky


“Our environment, the very habitat in which we live, is on the verge of disaster. Past generations have had the leisure to ignore this incontrovertible fact, but the time of reckoning has come. We, the youth of today, must work toward environmentally sound solutions to the energy needs of humanity. It will take time, but eventually, after Florida, Venice, San Francisco, the Netherlands, and others are submerged; after hundreds of thousands of people all over the world starve or are displaced, we will have no choice but to unite and deal with climate change. I plan to be part of that movement.” Nolan Gardner


“The damages done to our environment will be reversible only for so long, so we don’t have time to wait for the world’s leaders to agree that this is our most immediate and universal problem. I think my generation is beginning to realize that, which is why it’s so important for us to organize and participate in events such as the Green Torch Run and Focus the Nation: we need to show the people who matter that we demand change and inspire others to do the same.”  Nicole Halpern


Focus The Nation is an unprecedented educational initiative on global warming solutions for America occurring at more than 1,000 universities and colleges and in all 50 states on Jan. 31, 2008. As the largest teach-in in U.S. history, Focus The Nation is preparing hundreds of thousands of students to become leaders in the largest civilizational challenge any generation has faced. For more information, please visit

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This event was last updated on 10-26-2007