And by desk, I mean that funky little space between my windshield and dashboard. Yup: after 3,000 miles in 3 weeks, over a dozen campus visits, and meetings with 36 campus coordinators, not only have I formally established office hours in my car, but I’ve also seen some jaw-droppin’ rural Knox County sunsets, discovered super rad communities in Yellow Springs, explored vibrant and totally bangin’ urban districts in Cincinnati, and even spent a couple hours posted up in cozy small-town New Concord, waiting for an epic ice storm to blow through. All of this (and more) leads me to conclude that Ohio is probably the most awesome state in this entire country… and if you factor in all of the incredible, outstanding, and unbelievably badass students holdin’ it down and keepin’ it real, then there is officially, no contest.
Case in point: Hiram? SEAC students are fundraising for PowerShift via ‘Taco Truck’ (it’s exactly what it sounds like) and not only spreading the word on one of the most pivotal events in our generations climate movement, but also delicious co-op food, served street-side. Ohio University? The student-led Beyond Coal campaign is more exciting than ever, as the group gears up for a meeting with Administrators to finally talk about replacing the campus coal plant (stay tuned for the most outrageously victorious dance party ever). University of Cincinnati? Students here are building a movement not only for fresh, local, organic food on campus, but also introducing a whole new vocabulary word into the OSEC network; hence, Flof (fresh local organic food) Fest!
I could (obviously) go on and on all day about the incredible and inspiring work happening on countless college campuses across Ohio, but since this is a ‘State of The Union’ I’m going to take my cues from Obama, and direct your attention to the future of our state, our movement, and our dearly beloved network. Incidentally, Obama spent quite a chunk of time discussing the future of our nation in terms of energy policy and sustainability; he pointed out the widespread solar manufacturing potential (read: industrial infrastructure we may, or may not have in Ohio), the abundant wind feasibility (*cough* Lake Erie Offshore Wind Project), the high-speed rail that will revolutionize our country’s transit system (the same way 3c revolutionized student support for general transit reform), and the dirty energy subsidies that are obviously stupid (read; Kasich thinks fracking is a ‘Godsend’ for our state). Can you guess where I’m going with this…?
Ohio once again finds itself in the position of being a leader, a champion, a model and a bellwether for every other state in this nation; we have the legacy of political tone-setting, we have the pride of building this nation, and we have the potential to send a bold message to the rest of this country via offshore wind and solar manufacturing, complemented by strong resolutions banning fracking and halting dirty energy projects. So when Obama talks about ‘our generations Sputnik moment’ it’s clear that Ohio is not only already in the midst of that moment, but that it’s furthermore poised to be, what I like to call, a ‘Sputnik Moment Catalyst Extraordinaire’. Ohio’s at a pivotal crossroads; we’ve got proposed coal-fired power plants, hydraulic fracturing, nasty incinerators and hella extractive industries linked to climate chaos in one direction, while we’ve got the opportunity to blow wind-energy production out of the water (ha-get it!?), the capacity to transform our economy through green manufacturing, and the commitment to sustainably revitalize our communities and cities, in the other direction.
You better believe that OSEC is all over that Sputnik moment. As I look to the future of our movement, it’s abundantly clear that students across Ohio are consistently at the forefront of progressive action, political will, and diligent, determined organizing, and this movement only get’s bigger and better (we also ‘do big things’ ). When I think about the tremendous opportunities and decisions Ohio is faced with, and who is capable of navigating Ohio through this crossroad, I don’t think of politicians, investors or administrators; I immediately think of the Ohio Convention at PowerShift this spring. The magic of 500 fierce, dedicated, strategic, and innovative student leaders coming together and forging long-term plans to shape Ohio’s future is a magic that I can believe in. Thus, I can’t wait for the incredible opportunity to join so many badass student leaders in making sure Ohio stays the most awesome state in the union.
See ya there?