By Meher Sethi, Blue Future Spring for Progress and Change organizer
I’m steeped in mud and dirt in a wide-open (kinda smelly) field with a whole lotta other folks. We’re in Khet(field) in Dayalbagh, India, where most of my family lives: a tight-knit community that began as a small spiritual ashram. To be honest, at 7 years old, I wasn’t a huge fan. I’d ask my parents why we’re getting our hands dirty to do manual agricultural work — back here in America, we just go to Costco to get groceries. I looked around and saw hundreds of people clothed in the same Kurta Pajamacutting out weeds instead of using pesticides, growing lentils and wheat, and distributing milk from sacred cows that live on that land. I go there every few years and, yes, we do Khetat roughly 6 am every day. Besides that, though, we all take responsibility for different facets of maintaining daily life in the community; for example, my uncle is the elected leader of the soap factory, the first time I ever saw — without realizing it — a worker cooperative. We pretty much walk everywhere, past uniform housing units and newly built solar panels. My aunt is a professor at the college and also works at the Bhandar Ghar; directly translated as “Food House,” it’s where we all eat (only vegetarian food) together after working together, praying together, and celebrating life together.
One day, in August of 2019, I came home from a jog and saw the news playing on TV; a clip was running of Republican Senator Jim Inhofe proudly showing off his snowball prop to definitively disprove climate change during the debate on the Green New Deal. It wasn’t just him; then-Republican Senator Mike Lee goes on to show the floor a poster with machine-gun-toting Ronald Reagan on a velociraptor. I don’t even remember the joke; except that it wasn’t funny. These rich, old, white men were making a mockery of landmark legislation, yes, but it also felt like a slap in the face to thousands of years of history and rich culture rooted in natural harmony, environmental caretaking, and economic democracy — not only in India, but colonized lands across the globe, including those that we occupy in the United States — that too, in an institution of power that upholds white supremacy, authoritarianism, and puts profit over people and planet. Yet I knew the antidote: solidarity and radical love working in tandem to defeat evil forces at play; a grassroots movement of, by, and for the people.
That’s where Blue Future comes in. From the moment I started as an Organizer, the commitment to progressive values and bold change became clear to me. Moreover, the Spring for Progress and Change program was an absolutely transformative, engaging, and uplifting experience. Every Tuesday, I would keep my eye on the clock throughout the day, waiting with eager excitement for our training to start — and every Tuesday, my eyes would be opened to a wide-ranging and diverse set of ideas, policies, organizing practices, movement building techniques, and strategies to build a better future. From communication and messaging to relational organizing and deep canvassing, we got to dip our toes into several pools within the organizing space: legislative advocacy, electoral work, and community engagement. And we didn’t just learn about ideas; we put theory into practice by building coalitions and political infrastructure to claim our rightful seat at the table. Most of all, though, I felt an incredible sense of community and solidarity with the 100+ other organizers who all came to the table with the same sense of purpose, the same energy, and the same vision of a just tomorrow. The same kind of togetherness and solidarity I feel in the communal atmosphere of Dayalbagh. I felt empowered listening to the stories of guest speakers, developing comfort in my capabilities as a member of such a vibrant and politically active generation, and recognizing that our political idealism is met with fervor and determination to back it up.
As young people, we feel rightfully angry about the state of the world that has been given to us. But we also feel motivated and energetic. Blue Future invests in young organizers to help channel that energy towards the positive change we want to see.
Blue Future is working to build that aforementioned grassroots movement of, by, and for the people.
Blue Future gave me skills, knowledge, and experience — but most of all, it gave me hope. In the face of several existential crises, from a global pandemic to an economic depression to the climate crisis to the ongoing threat of systemic racism, our generation has been called upon with a great sense of urgency to act. Through Blue Future, I was instilled with the hope that the collective vision we have for our future — a world that doesn’t put profit over people and the planet but instead treats every life with dignity and empathy — can soon become our present.
After all, when we organize, we win.
About Meher: My name is Meher Sethi (he/him), I’m currently a high school senior, and I’ll be attending Yale University in the fall to study Ethics, Politics, and Economics. Outside of my work with Blue Future and the Illinois Youth Advisory Coalition, I do a lot of organizing with my Sunrise Movement hub and am currently an intern with Movement Labs, focusing on communications and policy. I’m incredibly passionate about organizing to combat climate change, revamp our economy, and create millions of good jobs in the process, so we can all live an equitable future centered around environmental, racial, housing, and economic justice.