by Marion Berger, University of Michigan , Detroit, MI
There's something unique about the Midwest. Of course, every geographic region of the country has its own style, its own vibe, its own culture to be proud of. But as a born and raised Midwesterner, it's always seemed to me that the Midwest is basically begging to become the hub of a new, sustainable future for America. State environmental coalitions across the Midwest have been growing, and the Midwest Power Shift of October 2011 proved that Midwesterners are committed to working together on environmental issues.
Out of a vast array of already existing networks and organizations arises the Midwest Youth Coalition, which, "by pooling time and resources, ...will reduce redundancy, provide models and outlines for new campaigns just coming online and offer a regional set of cohesive communication messages" (MYC Mission Statement). Most importantly, the Midwest Youth Coalition seeks to solidify and grow existing networks and relationships both in and among the Midwestern states.
Currently, the Midwest Youth Coalition has 1 Steering Committee member from each of 6 different Midwest States (listed below), as well as a Communications Lead, Marie Donahue. Our Steering Committee Chair is an as yet undecided position, but we have the guidance of the amazing Abby Fenton of the Will Steger Foundation to help us through the process of Coalition building. Over the next year, we hope to solidify specific goals and issues for the Midwest Youth Coalition to address, as well as to grow our networks and grow as a coalition in general.
Illinois: Rafael Hurtado
Michigan: Marion Berger
Ohio: Casey Slive
Minnesota: Carlos Dabu
Iowa: Holly Jones
Together, we will work to increase cooperation and work among the states of the Midwest, and to address major issues affecting the Midwest as a whole. Although we're in the very earliest of our development stages, I can already tell the Midwest Youth Coalition will do great things. We are passionate, we are innovative, and we are ready for action. Our states are the homes of manufacturing giants such as Detroit, craving the production of solar panels and wind turbines. Our vast farmlands and Great Lakes provide ample opportunity for wind power. We see the potential, and we know that that potential can only be reached through our collaboration. We're ready to show the nation just what the Midwest is capable of.
And while we each have our own goals, our own dreams of what we want the Midwest Youth Coalition to do for the Midwest, we're united in the fact that we're ready to work together to create widespread change. Personally, I'm ready for the Midwest to become America's first large-scale green economy. As an avid longtime participant in the Green Economy Leadership Training and native of the city of Detroit, I'm passionate about transforming the Midwest economy to a more sustainable economy in all senses of the word. And it is only through the innovation of our youth and the passion of our united activists that we will make this shift.
Working together, the possibilities of what we can accomplish are limitless. So get to know us! You'll be hearing much more from us over the course of the next year.
Full versions of our current vision and mission statements are listed below:
The Midwest Youth Coalition is a grassroots network that seeks to secure a just and ecologically responsible future. By coordinating collaborative campaigns across Midwest campuses and communities, and by providing a space to share skills, resources and ideas, we will bring a solutions-oriented approach to our most difficult environmental challenges.
The Midwest Youth Coalition envisions a shared space for Midwest youth to exchange skills, ideas and models, to encourage and facilitate discussion and to offer guidance and support to statewide coalitions trying to get off the ground. This space will likely take the form of a website that can host various resources, a monthly or bi-monthly conference call to keep state leaders up to date on the going-ons in the rest of the region, and a steering committee that can support regional events and campaigns.
The Coalition will seek to support statewide coalitions in each of the Midwest states and to assist those coalitions in the work they do. Midwest is defined at this point as Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. By pooling time and resources, the Coalition will reduce redundancy, provide models and outlines for new campaigns just coming online and offer a regional set of cohesive communication messages. Finally, the Coalition will help build valuable relationships and community throughout the Midwest.