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Otterbein faculty lead central Ohio discussion on climate change at working summit

Otterbein faculty lead central Ohio discussion on climate change at working summit

Saying the need is urgent, the time to act now, central Ohio educators will convene The Working Summit to Fight Climate Change on Saturday, January 20 in Delaware. Hosted by the Central Ohio Community Project, the working summit will be held from 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. at the Stratford Ecological Center, 3083 Liberty Road.

“The world is threatened by fossils fuels, we know that,” says Otterbein University professor Terry Hermsen. “Schools and universities must lead by helping groups already committed to change to reach others who aren't as yet.” 

Hermsen and other Otterbein faculty — Andrew Mills, Melissa Gilbert, Heidi Ballard, Paul Wendel and Bethany Vosburg-Bluem — founded the Central Ohio Community Project last year. The group’s summit will bring together a wide range of people from colleges and high schools, cities and counties, non-profits, businesses, parks and farming organizations to share knowledge and create action projects.

“We will talk,” says Hermsen, “but we will talk toward action, toward joining together to create projects that can educate and can continue efforts to reduce our use of fossils fuels and environmentally dangerous chemicals. Even something as simple as food: we can grow more of our food locally and we can waste less of it.”

The summit will begin with a keynote address by renowned climate writer David Orr, from Oberlin College, who headed efforts to design, fund and build the Adam Joseph Lewis Center at Oberlin, which has been called one of the most important green buildings of the 20th century. Orr is the author of eight books, including Dangerous Years: Climate Change and the Long Emergency (Yale, 2016).

“Many positive changes are already underway,” says Hermsen. “We are meeting to share news of progress. But our efforts must intensify too. We must help each other and our students realize that the responsibility for change is in each one of us. We’ve waited for top-down change, and some good things have been initiated worldwide, especially the Paris Climate Accords, but we must help each other realize that we must move beyond the idea of saving the world for our grandchildren. We must save the world by acting in our region right now.”

Organizations attending the summit include Otterbein and Ohio Wesleyan universities, Ohio State University-Marion, the cities of Westerville, Delaware and Marion, the Citizens Climate Lobby, the Marion Technical School of Ohio, the MAD Scientists Associates, the Center for Education and Research in Environmental Strategies (CERES), the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the Marion Ohio Regional Planning Commission, Delaware Country Parks, Simply Living Community Organization and the Ohio Environmental Council.

The Central Ohio Community Project is a group of central Ohioans uniting their forces to address the threats of climate change. By talking together, comparing what we are already doing and looking for steps where we can take things further, we can increase our momentum in addressing this urgent global problem with effective local action. We are committed to the hope that changes are indeed possible and can even bring us and our neighbors together in ways we may not have imagined. The group includes college folks, business folks, government leaders, city planners, farmers, young people, non-profit groups already active in fighting climate change, city and county council members, scientists, sociologists, leaders and dreamers of all kinds. Its purpose is to share what we all are doing already, consider options and compare ideas — and then build an action plan, or set of action plans, that can lift our efforts to that new level.

Individuals can still register for the summit by contacting ClimateChange@Otterbein.edu or Terry Hermsen at THermsen@Otterbein.edu