About thenicenathan


A somewhat hazy and beautiful vision

I am so excited to get this years effort off and running! I have had an amazing time with the NICE for the past 2 summers and there are a variety of possibilities on the horizon for the NICE this year. The partnership with Grand Aspirations to host Summer of Solutions programs was a great learning experience and continues to grow. Grand Aspirations is working to develop a series of local hubs across the country and is working to create a mutually beneficial partnership with the NICE.

Our local programs experienced a variety of struggles and successes. The major success of the NICE-Summer of Solutions ’09 for me was in developing a better understanding of the real value of engaging in these types processes as an active participant in an ongoing and self-determining learning experience. I often find myself gauging success in terms of self imposed deadlines met and tangible improvements in peoples’ lives created. While these types of successes are truly valuable, they are not the limit to the value of our efforts. Sitting here and looking at where we are now compared to where we were in the spring of 2008, or even 2009, I am seriously blown away by our bold tenacity and ability to make progress toward materializing a somewhat hazy and beautiful vision.

I feel like some possibilities are beginning to clarify within this vision. Local programs are ongoing and thus there is a need for year round involvement in these efforts. Summer of Solution (SoS) programs are a powerful tactic when utilized as the continuation or catalyst of student involvement in local solutionary efforts. I would like to see the NICE develop into a hub for learning, innovation, entrepreneurship, community building, and solutionary action throughout the year through coordinating programs such as SoS. In order to accomplish this, the regional team is tackling the process of identifying organizational, business, and legal models that fit our aspirations (no pun intended).

Today, I am feeling the extreme urgency and excitement that comes from chasing these types of dreams. As I snoop around the internet community and sift through my various list serves, to avoid the homework pile of my third week of the term, I am reminded of a thought I had over the summer. It seems that the argument for renewable energy vs. fossil fuels is often set in a difficult framework for the proponents of renewable energy.

If I strip all value from the arguments, I find the fossilites’ side saying, “Hey we have been serving the population for 200 years! Yeah, we might have a few problems, but we can fix them. We can be cleaner.” The renewable energy side gets stuck trying to prove that the current system is so broken that we need to develop something completely new and relatively untested (compared to the amount of time we have invested into fossil fuel combustion as an energy source). This is a hard argument to make. But it is one that must be won!

I feel we need a surge of community based solutions to socio-eco-economic challenges which support the argument that something completely new is possible and preferred. These community solutions will also reduce the demand for fossil fuels by beginning to tangibly transition neighborhoods and cities onto more sustainable, prosperous, and just alternatives. A solutionary effort improving living situations and creating jobs in the district of every elected official would be a huge step in creating a more favorable political landscape. The NICE is capable of playing an important role in the creation of these community solutions in the northwest. Its time to roll up our sleeves and get solutionary!

I look forward to all of the learning and innovation that this community will share as Grand Aspirations, the NICE, community solutions, Summer of Solutions, and our partnerships strengthen and grow. This is going to be a year to remember!!!

~nathan jones

NICE Regional Organizer

NICE title image

One hot solutionary summer!

I have become an organizer first, and then a student. Over the past term I have struggled to keep up with the normal cycle of homework, class, work, and the small social life I can afford time for. Papers stack up, grade points slip down, and my general health and happiness has felt the toll of the average and everyday workload of a student in America. I know that by the time I earn my degree, there will be thousands of other young, unemployed degree holders competing in the job market. I also know that there will be tens of thousands of dollars of student loan debt looming over my head like storm clouds. I have experienced firsthand some of the difficulties associated with the tough choices being made by our generation. When I chose to move to Arizona to help my brother pay for school, I was making a tough choice to help a loved one get ahead. This choice set back my own struggling education by two years. When he chose to use his degree get a job in Baghdad that would allow him to work limitless hours in a war zone, he was making a tough choice to sacrifice his safety and happiness in an effort to live the majority of his life debt free.

Compared to the choices like those, that young Americans are making every day, the choice to sacrifice some of my grade in a couple of my classes to take a group of students to Power Shift was an easy choice to make. I had already dug a deep hole in a couple of classes, having also spent many volunteer hours this term helping a group of students with shifting the OSU Green Energy Fee toward a model that would also address energy efficiency on campus. I knew that attending Power Shift would spell almost certain failure in a couple of my classes. I also knew that the challenges facing my generation are bigger than maintaining a robust GPA.

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