Pulling up StakesGAMBIER, Ohio (December 11, 2006) A few rectangular patches of brown remain on the lawn beside the Church of the Holy Spirit, in silent testimony to the tents that stood there for a month. The students who were camping out to raise money for the Knox County chapter of Habitat for Humanity have moved back into their dorms, just in time to miss the first serious cold snap.
It began with Aaron Clark-Ginsberg, Class of 2008, who's majoring in American studies, focusing on social geography, the study of how people relate to the place where they live. Clark-Ginsberg, who's from Portland, Oregon, wanted to draw attention to the often-invisible problem of homelessness in America. Members of a number of student organizations, including the Lambda Chapter of Delta Kappa Epsilon, joined him for a night, a week, or more. Yana Forney, Class of 2007, who's also a Portland native, organized support from Canterbury, the student group sponsored by Harcourt Parish. Donations far exceeded everyone's expectations.
"I think it really is drawing attention to the issue. I was shooting for $720 (a dollar for every hour in the month)," Clark-Ginsberg said. By the time he pulled up stakes, he'd collected more than $2,000, with as much as $600 more in pledges still coming in. "I really subscribe to the mantra that Kenyon is a community. But we're educating people here about problems in the wider community."
Going down to New Orleans three times to help with Katrina cleanup-during winter, spring, and summer breaks-made him realize that a big part of any problem is simply lack of awareness on the part of people who might be willing and able to help. "Projects like these create their own momentum."
Clark-Ginsberg's parents are a source of inspiration. "They're big activists themselves," he said. "They've been working for a year and a half on starting a free clinic in Portland, and it opened over the summer. Watching them do good things makes me want to do good things."
For his efforts, Clark-Ginsberg was named a winner of the Franklin Miller Award, given to students who make unusual or significant contributions to the academic environment of the College.
Aaron Clark-Ginsberg's Online Journal