""Hope is the bedrock of this nation. The belief that our destiny will not be written for us but by us....by all those men and women who are not content to settle for the world as it is, who have the courage to remake the world as it should be," said Obama in his Iowa victory speech on January 3, 2008. "Together ordinary people can do extraordinary things."
Justin Kosslyn, a junior in Ezra Stiles College at Yale University and David Manners-Weber a sophomore in Yale's Calhoun College take the message to heart. In an article the Yale Daily News, Kosslyn and Manners-Weber imagine that, instead of simply getting out the vote, young people follow Obama's exhortation to make change happen in the world.
We have three examples of what such projects might look like. The first is simple: neighborhood cleanup. Residents driving through town squares and walking through local parks would find groups of enthusiastic Obama volunteers picking up cigarette butts and candy wrappers. The volunteers on this project, and all such projects, would be decked out in Obama T-shirts, stickers and buttons."
Our second sample service project is a 5K run through Main Street to raise money for a local charity. In Connecticut, our state, we could support Operation Fuel, which subsidizes heating for low-income families. Obama has spoken about the impact of high fuel prices on working families, so this type of service complements Obama’s message.
Finally, Obama volunteers could work through local YMCAs to further a myriad of small-scale local projects. These range from re-tiling the bathroom in a local women’s shelter to distributing children’s books from the local book bank. Though often less visible than traditional campaigning, these efforts have the potential to generate tremendous word-of-mouth credibility and support for Obama.
They have the right idea. Unlike the Republican leaders who after 9/11 called for us to shop as a sign of patriotism, these Yale students, inspired by Obama's leadership, talk of becoming engaged and involved. They do not ask what Washington will do for them nor do they contentedly envision their role as passively voting every fourth year. These are the young people who want to make change happen for themselves in their own communities. Working together, people have the ability to do what they cannot do alone and the projects they envision imagine people collaborating to improve their own social conditions. Obama's message, strongly echoed in the Tech Plan's new vision for government, puts inspired students like Kosslyn and Manners-Weber at the center of the solution.