ECO EnergizedGAMBIER, Ohio (November 11, 2009) Kenyon students are turning up the heat (figuratively, of course) on their efforts to make Kenyon a greener place. The Environmental Campus Organization (ECO) is taking on climate change at the national and the campus level.
In March, during spring break, students representing ECO attended the national Power Shift conference in Washington D.C., which brought 12,000 people together to discuss the need for government action on climate change. Students participated in workshops, attended lectures, and met with senators and representatives.
Because of the success of this event, activists around the country have been working to organize Power Shift conferences on the state level. ECO students this month travelled to Oberlin High School in Oberlin, Ohio, to attend Power Shift Ohio, which featured Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher, and social activist Elizabeth Kucinich as keynote speakers. Participants discussed regional planning and action.
"What ECO values so much about Power Shift," said Abby Wardell, a senior from Charlottesville, Virginia, "is that it's incredibly empowering. It's amazing and inspirational to see how large groups of young adults can really create effective change when they unify themselves."
That "inspirational action" at Power Shift events is also in play at Kenyon. ECO membership has jumped to more than twenty-five, with "each incoming class more and more devoted to energy and the environment," Wardell said.
She and other ECO members want to harness that inspiration to create change at Kenyon. That includes a project called the Free Store, led by first-year student Jenny Bock, of Brooklyn, New York. Rather than see Kenyon students throw away piles of useable items at the end of each semester, ECO hopes to open a station on campus where students can donate items. The store will be run by a student manager, and students can drop off and pick up any items they want. A test run will measure student response to the Free Store in the Horn Gallery basement during the last week of the semester.
The group is also gearing up for the fourth-annual Residence Hall Energy Competition, a two-week contest to see which building can reduce energy use by the highest percentage.
By Ellie Norton '10 of Cullowhee, North Carolina