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Be the Change: Olympia Action Network

by Rachael Jamison

Our President-elect, Barack Obama, paved his road to the White House on the promise of change in America. Obama insisted that a well run country begins not only with an effective and fair leader, but with citizens who are willing to mobilize and do something in their communities.

In the spirit of change, I invited my friends (and asked them to invite their friends), to create this change in Olympia by starting the Olympia Action Network (OAN). The concept is to create an organization that meets monthly to do something to better our community. This could mean environmental clean-up, homeless outreach, community art projects, and more. The Network can put horsepower behind other organizations to help their existing efforts be more successful, while encouraging new ideas and efforts in the community.

The Network would be open to everyone, absolutely free, without membership dues that have perpetuated class-ism in even the most well-intentioned organizations. It will be organized from the bottom up, where all members are equal and essential to the health of the whole. The network would belong to its members, with no 'leader,' no 'president,' no 'director.'

If we want change to take root in our individual lives, our communities, and our country we need a different approach. We can begin to fundamentally shift the power structure that has perpetuated race/class/sex/age-ism for so long in our country, making room for a new place-based, people-powered, "ism-free" structure to emerge.

The power of the person will always be stronger than the power of the purse. Human beings hunger for connection to community, to nature, and to one another. By coming together to do good work in our community, we create an opportunity to empower ourselves to be the people we long to be in the world. I strongly believe that each and every person on earth longs to connect with people and to do good work. Creating an organization that has the potential to transform not only our community but our hearts can tap into compassion that exists in all of us. Let's start doing things that make both economic sense and 'heart-sense.' Compassion is contagious.

The first meeting of the OAN occurred in December and was a tremendous success, with over thirty participants. The meeting provided an opportunity for people to discuss what they wanted for the organization and to volunteer to coordinate a monthly activity over the course of the next year. So far, activities on the calendar range from a stream clean-up, to a pet-adoption fair, to a nursing home play day, to connecting with existing NGO's in Olympia and providing people-power to help them meet their goals.

A gentle revolution is afoot. You're invited to "be the change you wish to see in the world." If you are interested in joining OAN or have questions, please email olyactionnetwork@ hotmail.com. I look forward to working with you to create a sustainable, service-oriented and compassionate community.

Rachael has been an Olympia resident for over thirteen years. In this time, Rachael has worked on local issues related to sustainable agriculture, green development, health care and young adult's empowerment. Rachael has a Master's Degree in Environmental Studies from The Evergreen State College.


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