What One Thing Gives You Most Hope? (Mine is the Oberlin Project)

It’s certainly tough sometimes to read a daily newspaper.  Whether it’s climate scientists’ latest projections about the speed of sea level rise or tepid responses from politicians or CEO’s, some days depressing news seems to abound on every page.

Psychologists tell us that most of us can only take so much negativity without withdrawing or turning away.  If we believe that, then maybe we need to find compelling ways to encourage others to stay engaged and not withdraw from the conversation.  Shaming or belittling people – whether as individuals or in institutions - for not doing enough (or anything) doesn’t seem like a productive strategy for turning the tide.  My strategy is to find out where people are coming from and start there with whatever it takes to move them to “the next step.”  [Obviously, that varies widely from a random neighbor to a corporate head who knows exactly what the stakes are!]

What I’m suggesting here is simple:  even in the midst of a global crisis - find one thing that gives you hope or inspires you and make it bigger.

So – in a comment below this post, please name the one thing that most gives you hope or inspires you, and why.  Not what doesn’t give you hope or why someone else’s “one thing” is wrong, but what’s true for you.

For me, I’m incredibly inspired by the work that a coalition of folks in Oberlin, Ohio, undertook from 2009-2016.  It’s called the Oberlin Project.  It joined together academics, students, non-profits, local government and business leaders to share each other’s strengths and resources to create a climate positive community.  As someone with a passion for learning, I’m especially interested in their efforts to create an environmentally educated public.  

Read more on their website or blog or Facebook page.

They’ve set an example for us all about collaboration across different interests to build a more resilient community long-term. 

Thanks, Oberlin!



Thanks for the great article

Thanks for the great article and for sharing the Oberlin Project!

I often struggle to stay positive, and have found that a daily search for inspiring activity helps - your article gave voice to that, and inspired me to share with others more often.

One organization that really inspires me is the Sustainable Economies Law Center. Here is their mission statement: "Sustainable Economies Law Center cultivates a new legal landscape that supports community resilience and grassroots economic empowerment. We provide essential legal tools - education, research, advice, and advocacy - so communities everywhere can develop their own sustainable sources of food, housing, energy, jobs, and other vital aspects of a thriving community."

Rick Shankman's picture

Thanks Dave, for giving me a

Thanks Dave, for giving me a flashback to my beloved Buckeye State of olde!

You know, Oberlin can be a very special place.

This vision of Oberlin gives me hope (and a big smile too!)... Oberlin College Students Protest SB5

For those unfamiliar with the Ohio Senate Bill 5 Referendum (SB5)...

"Senate Bill 5 (SB5) was repealed by Ohio voters after a campaign by firefighters, police officers [Oberlin College students] and teachers against the measure, which would have limited collective bargaining for public employees in the state."

This gives me hope too... Fossil Free Oberlin.

"Any economic investments Oberlin holds in the companies that contribute to these catastrophes reflect a tacit approval of the harm inherent to these corporations’ business models. Furthermore, these investments are a missed opportunity to align our institutional actions with the beliefs and values of our community. We believe that the timely and public divestment of Oberlin’s endowment from the fossil fuel industry would once again position us as a leader of social and political advancement."