Life as a new OSEC-er

It is amazing to me that one month ago, I barely had an any idea of what OSEC or Powershift even were. On a Wednesday afternoon in late January, I got a call from a phone number I didn’t know. I never pick up the phone when the call is from an unknown number. If it’s important enough they’ll leave a message, right? This number didn’t leave a message. However, for some reason or another later day, I was with some friends and decided to call the number back, and who picks up on the other line but Oberlin senior and OSEC member Erika Zarowin. She had called out-of-the-blue to invite me to join some OSEC girls leaving for Detroit, Michigan that Friday to plan an environmental conference for the fall. Boy, was it lucky that I had decided to call back the unknown caller? I happily said I’d join them.

Now, after planning a conference with OSEC and MSSC-ers that weekend in Detroit, dealing with a broken car window, participating in an OSEC Steering Retreat weekend, spending hours in a car with coal activist Elisa Young while touring some of Ohio’s major coal plants, blasting Regina Spektor songs while riding backseat, and making some great new best friends, I feel like I’ve been a part of OSEC for years. I am honored to be a part of such an amazing organization. In one month’s time, I’ve already learned so much about environmental issues, about campaigning, about making change, and about myself. It was obvious from my very first weekend with OSEC-ers that this was a passionate group of people who mean business. What better role models could I have asked for in becoming an environmental activist?

After returning from the OSEC Steering Retreat two weekends ago, I felt surprisingly emotional. I had a million thoughts running through my head: of Powershift, of anti-oppression, of coal and wind farms, of my future vocation, of my friends from home, of life. Perhaps it was a combination of the beginning of my second semester as a college student, getting a tour of coal plants for the first time, and being totally psyched for Powershift, but OSEC brought me to a place I haven’t been at in a long time, one of pure reflection. It’s a wonderful feeling to step back from the world and look at all the things on the plate you in front of you that you’ve prepared for yourself  and just THINK. I don’t think I’ve realized the value of reflecting in such a way before, and though I am busy as heck now that I am planning for Powershift and other on-campus environmental activities and trying to keep up with my school work, it’s all worth it if I can look back on what I am doing in my life and think, ‘yea, I’ll be that cooky, hippie-like old woman in the future whose grandkids get to look at all the pictures of the coal plants she helped plan to take down.’ I think I’m pretty happy with that fact.

So now, after all these OSEC initiation experiences, I am absolutely PUMPED for Powershift 2011. Tonight, Oberlin OSEC-ers finally submitted a proposal to the Oberlin College Student Finance Committee to request funding that will make Powershift registration FREE for all Oberlin students. We’re almost ready to recruit Obies to Powershift, and I feel like I’ve got ants in my pants from the anticipation of it all! In 2009, Oberlin recruited 106 students to Powershift, making us the 4th largest recruiter of any college in the country to the conference that year. I’m ready to blow that number out of the water. There’s about a month and a half until Powershift 2011…and it’s go time. If you’re an Oberlin student, be prepared for me to start talking your ear off about Powershift, because this year, we’ll be number one!

-Maggie Heraty, first year at Oberlin College

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