Last year on October 24th, 350.org , a group led by Middlebury’s own Bill McKibben and founded by 7 Middlebury graduates held what CNN called the “most widespread day of political action in the planet’s history.” People pleaded with their elected officials in over 5000 events, asking them to work to approach this target of 350 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere.
Midd students with their bounty after gleaning
With the failure of the negotiations in Copenhagen this past January, it became clear to climate activists worldwide that this fight was not over yet. This Sunday marked350.org‘s next day of action- the 10/10/10 Global Work Party. Instead of just petitioning the governments of the world, participants got to work planting trees, working in gardens, installing solar panels, and doing hundreds of other activities. With over 7,347 events in 188 countries, the event was an incredible success.
At Middlebury, the Sunday Night Group, Middlebury’s environmental group, planned several events including gleaning of 483 pounds of beets for local food shelves, Long Trail maintenance work, and canvassing of Addison county.
As my conservation and environmental policy professor John Isham said yesterday, “We’re all sitting here literally beaming with pride.” Yesterday, the Obama Administration announced that they would put solar panels on the roof of the White House, powering a small part of the electricity needs of the family and providing a powerful symbol for the clean energy future of this nation.
“President Obama has said the Federal Government has to lead by example in creating opportunity and jobs in clean energy,” said Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. “By installing solar panels on arguably the most famous house in the country, his residence, the President is underscoring that commitment to lead and the promise and importance of renewable energy in the United States.”
This announcement is not, however, coming out of the blue. A campaign to get President Obama to put solar panels on the roof of the White House has been going on all summer and well into the fall. Middlebury’s own Bill McKibben and 350.org, the organization he started along with 7 other Middlebury students, have been working nonstop to achieve this momentous victory. Their campaign culminated in a road trip from Unity College, Maine, to Washington, D.C., with one of the solar panels from Jimmy Carter’s administration that had previously powered the White House. The road trip ended a failure without any firm commitment from the White House and no hope that things would change.
This announcement, however, has restored faith in the movement and the ability of this government to make real progress on climate change and environmental policy in the upcoming years.
Basically, Middlebury rocks.
Check out this video from the putsolaronit campaign:
This year’s edition of Middlebury’s yearbook Kaleidoscope is already in production, and the money for it spent. The only question at this point is, will your face be in it?
You can upload your face picture (and others) on the yearbook’s photo upload website using the login information sent to your email, or you can ask email@example.com.
Despite my personal skepticism of whether or not this yearly publication in its current form is right for Midd (see below), I’ve submitted my picture. Here’s a list of reasons that you might do the same…
- POST-GRAD LOVE LIFE, PLAN B. Senior crush lists don’t always work. Maybe your Proctor crush is too alternative for Facebook. Adding your most flattering picture to the yearbook increases your chances–from zero to slightly higher-than-zero–that the lucky gal or guy will stumble across your face in just in time for your 5th reunion weekend….
- YOUR FACE (IN PRINT!). Yes, a bit vain, perhaps, but user-edited Web media completely takes the fun out of seeing oneself on the Internet. Who doesn’t get a little kick out of seeing your name or face in print?
- RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE 2010s. If I had posted a picture of myself like the one to the right on FB, and then found out I was going to be U.S. president a few decades later, I probably would have untagged it or deleted it long before the fact. Having a concrete freeze-frame of your 2010 hairdo and granola Vermont style will force you to take a bit of ownership for the good ol’ days in front of your kids.
- MAKING THE MOST OF IT. You don’t decide exactly how your tax dollars are spent, but you still benefit in some respect from the programs and security that they buy. Likewise, if you disagree with the yearbook, it will nonetheless be published in June with the label “Middlebury College 2009-2010.” If you were a part of that, it seems a waste of your student activities money not to be included.
What’s there to disagree about? Last March, MiddBlog posted on why Middlebury doesn’t need a yearbook. To recap the reasoning, still valid from its original posting a year ago:
- Publishing a yearbook is expensive, especially as it’s provided “free” to seniors (they’ve paid into the student activities feed coffers for four years, and get a part of that back in the form of the book).
- It isn’t a well-known part of Middlebury graduation tradition.
- Documenting everything from an entire year at a busy place like Midd seems impossible.
- Most of all, perhaps, Facebook and the Web partially replace the need for the extra 200 pages of photos sitting on your shelf 10, 25, 50 years from now. Ditching the yearbook for FB ruins the sentimental part of it, but on the upside would save a tree or two.
As much as I support participating in the current yearbook, I also think discussing the yearbook’s future should continue. It’s a large sum of money being spent, going towards a publication that many say (today) that they’re against.
MiddBlog wants to know. What’s your take? Is a Midd yearbook worth the money? Will you value a yearbook down the road, or is Facebook the answer? How should the idea of a yearbook adapt to the “social media age”? Does DePauw University have it right?
Like it’s a typical day for Obama…
…and crushes our dreams of becoming rap stars.
Here is Obama’s speech to schoolchildren today, which, on some level, still includes all of us.
Dear parents, take whatever socialist messages out of it that you want, in my opinion, they don’t matter.
What matters is that today the leader of our country stood up and recognized that students of the Twitter, YouTube and Facebook generation have as much power to shape the discourse of the future as the crazy old politicians in Congress Obama will address tomorrow night have. It’s slightly trite, but inspirational nonetheless and a nice little booster to keep in mind as we watch the work start to pile-up.
(You can read the prepared transcript HERE.)