Take the Pester Power Pledge!

Q: What's Pester Power?

A: It's "a children's play for adults" about two climates ...

A: It's the power that we kids have--when all else fails--to get grownups to pay attention to what we need!

A: It's a playful strategy to get us all to actually do what we know is right ...

A: It's a grassroots campaign in Urbana-Champaign to help us lower our residential power bills and reduce our carbon footprint ...

A: It's Urbana's bid to win the $5 million Georgetown University energy prize ... (?!)


Wait—did you say $5 million energy prize?

Yes! One of the performers in the play learned at her elementary school about a competition held by Georgetown University to give $5 million to the city that makes the greatest reduction in its residential carbon footprint over two years, 2014-2016. Our performer's pestering led to the formation of an action group in Urbana and a formal application for the prize by the city’s Environmental Sustainability Manager. Urbana was selected to be among 50 finalists for the prize! Our application proposed that the prize would fund various sustainability initiatives in Urbana, including a green jobs program for formerly incarcerated people.


Tell me more about the play!

"Pester Power" is a short play with music, puppets, skits, songs, and audience interaction—"a children's play for adults."

The idea of the play is that children can harness their well-practiced Pester Power to get the adults in their lives to do the right thing for global climate change and racial climate.

It came out of a writing project hosted by the School for Designing a Society in 2013 to connect three often denied problems: climate change, racism, and the need for experiment in the arts. We generated 4 hours of material, and condensed some of it to the children’s play, Pester Power.

The play has been performed in houses, at outdoor picnics, farmers markets, in schools, churches, shelters, nursing homes, and community centers, on radio & public access television. Since the play is both a spark to discussion and a call to action, it works best when it can lead the audience into forming climate action teams.

We perform it for free -- if you'd like to book us to perform, contact us at

Climate Action Teams?

The most effective action happens when we work in teams. For the Georgetown energy prize, we facilitate groups to make use of a handy workbook called the Low Carbon Diet. It's a commitment to meeting weekly for a month. This way we can remind each other and brag to each other, learn new things about our homes and utility bills and talk about which actions will have the greatest effect. We can share questions, experiences, and ideas about what an improved racial climate would mean.

If you'd like us to help you find an action team, check that box in the Pester Power Pledge at the bottom of this page!


How is Urbana doing in the competition?

We've collectively made some improvements in our residential carbon footprint, but we could do a lot more. If you've already taken the pledge, you could help our chances by spreading the word. As for the racial climate, we helped gather signatures for a petition to the Champaign County Board to create a racial justice task force. As of January 21, the task force has been formed, and looks to be a promising step. Again, there's a still a long way to go to improve this climate.

To see what other signers of the Pester Power Pledge are doing, check our facebook page at [link] and twitter at [link]. To post an update on what you are doing toward the goal, go to [link].


Who we are

Performers in the play so far have included Saba, Sophie, Sage, Aria, Zeta, Emily, Eloise, Ben, Jane, Rayman, Veronica, Susan, Mark. Susan Parenti wrote the script. The organizing group includes Scott Tess, Danielle Chynoweth, Linda Turnbull, Todd Rusk, Stacy Gloss, Susan Parenti, Mark Enslin, Marina Manetti, Sage Johnson, Saba Manetti-Tesfaye, Rachel Franks, Charles Suggs, Cope Cumpston and others. Participants in the original School for Designing a Society writing collaboration included Melanie Meltzer, Michael Gaiuranos, Cope Cumpston, Rohn Koester, John Friesen, Jacob Barton, Ya'aqov Ziso, Mark Enslin, Susan Parenti, Derek Busby…


Places where Pester Power! has been performed as of January 2016:

Don Moyer Boys and Girls Club, Champaign • Urbana Sweetcorn Festival • Orchard Downs University of Illinois Housing • Ecofeminism Conference • Market-in-the-Square, Urbana (8 Saturdays canvassing--with “Pesto Power”-- plus three full performances) • Urbana Public TV • Meeting of the Sustainability Advisory Commission, Urbana City Building • Champaign-Urbana Nursing and Rehab in Savoy • Champaign County Nursing Home in Urbana • Neighborhood Connection Center • Courage Connection • Salem Baptist Church • New Free Will Baptist Church • Common Ground Food Co-op • Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center • Urbana Middle School • Urbana Adult Education • WEFT Radio, the Illinois Labor Hour and On the Move • Stratton Elementary School • Maker Fair in Lincoln Square • Neutral Cycle • Crystal Lake Park • House performances • Upcoming: Champaign County Youth Detention Center • University of Illinois • Bruce D. Nesbitt African American Cultural Center Lunch & Learn • Krannert Center for the Performing Arts Community Outreach