This was written as a conclusion to my semester-long project on SJSF and the LC for my environmental ethics class, in the philosophy department at Mount Holyoke College.

…..  It has come to that time in the semester when we must recount how far we have come, what we learned in the process, and plan our next steps.

We achieved a large portion of what we set out to do this spring, most importantly having spread our network of engaged students and community members.  I am especially proud to know that Mount Holyoke and Hampshire colleges have a sizeable presence on the common this evening after all of the hard work recruiting and relaying messaging time after time again.  These two campuses have proved to me our most active this semester – a truly wonderful accomplishment.  We even have some members of Smith College involved now – all five colleges on the map!

Personally, my favorite accomplishment with the Leadership Campaign has been creating a network of friends.  I literally am in tears over the idea of not being able to see this core group that I have come to depend on as such committed allies!  I felt that I was disappointing everyone since it was assumed that I would come as usual and it hurt to hear their voices on the phone and feeling as if we were separated by so much time and distance.  Finding friends who are as passionate, if not more so, than I am about these issues, was something I had only dreamed of in high school.  Never, had I imagined that in less than a year I’d have a network of college friends that extended so far off my campus!  (Never let anyone tell you that you won’t have any male friends if you go to a women’s college.)

Many changes happened regarding our plan of action throughout the semester, however.  The role that I’ve played in the Leadership Campaign has varied greatly, staring off this semester with getting basic media and communications stuff in order while planning letters of endorsement.  That then shifted to church and community outreach and now finally, to focus on New England Climate Summer planning.  I am not the only person to see his or her role change.  Strong leaders have cropped up on every single campus, filling every needed niche, and then some.  I, for one, am especially grateful to the newest western MA regional leaders who stepped up, Kaia, Mino, and Tessa!

While our bill has not made the progress through the state house as originally hoped, we have edited our plans knowing that it will not get passed in the next 24 hours.  Our plan of action is now to create the Repower Massachusetts Emergency Task Force despite political aid.  I look forward to seeing what they will bring to the table during the next legislative session.

Along with the changes in the program, we made many mistakes, which we must take in stride as part of our learning curve.  Many of us were greatly disappointed when we lost the $5,000 Climate Summer funding from Brighter Planet to a (surely admirable) group in Virginia.  What this means is that we needed more active recruitment and pledging on campuses.  We needed to actively get people to vote by asking them in person, even going door to door.  We underestimated the value of face-to-face meeting and expanding our circle to non-online advertising.  This is a huge problem that is going to really set back NECS, but seeing all the power we have behind us, there must be a way that we can get students and community members to financially support this program.  I also, for one, wish that much of our NECS advance-planning were happening further in advance than it is turning out to be.  Now we know for the next years that in order to get more applicants we have to get the word out sooner and in more diverse mediums.

The worst mistake (if it is even a mistake at all) is my personal, emotional investment in the campaign becoming a bit too strong.  Perhaps the late nights on duty in the rain and cold, eating Easter candy, drinking hot chocolate, and chatting with friends did affect my attentiveness in Monday classes too much.  My grades certainly saw the impact of the hours previously devoted to studying becoming filled with SJSF work and play.  (Though I must admit, my time management was better this semester than last!)

Most importantly, we must remember that the environmental movement is a learning process.  I have found my strength and passion in organizing.  I have learned to help others develop their strengths as leaders and to draw my inspiration from my friends.  Recently, I have found how to continually draw strength from within myself to keep going even when other’s lights have dimmed.

Working with the LC and looking at it through the lens of my environmental ethics class has greatly informed my identity as a feminist, student, organizer, and writer.  I now feel that I am able to approach organizing from a more critical and ethical standpoint.  Having deeply considered the tragedy of the commons and our uses of land, ecofeminism, American philosophical pragmatism, the role of science in our decision making, overconsumption and human nature, I feel that I am better equipped to defend my moral obligations to the movement here and overseas.

As I prepare to leave the land of the free and the state of the brave until the beginning of 2011, I know that I am leaving everything in good hands.  I look forward to learning of the trials, tribulations, successes, and lessons learned that the Leadership Campaign encounters while I am abroad.  I will be sure to bring with me what I have learned from you all.  Best of luck, and all my love!

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