Tonight, the TV newsmagazine "60 Minutes" did a story on the economic crisis facing Wilmington, Ohio, a town of 12,000 people nearly all of whom are being laid off by freight corporation DHL. If you missed the heartrending segment, you can watch it here:
Here's what Scott Pelley of "60 Minutes" didn't tell you: there's a promising local effort to help the people of Wilmington -- and there are a few things you can do to help their plan become a reality without getting up from your computer.
Last Thanksgiving, I brought you the story of Taylor Stuckert and Mark Rembert, two recent college grads from Wilmington who postponed their Peace Corps tours to return home and help save the town they grew up in. Their project, ENERGIZE Clinton County, has grown since then into a burgeoning local movement, complete with an office, two websites (the other one is here), a passel of media coverage, public meetings in Wilmington and elsewhere, and most recently a weeklong pilgrimage to Washington, where Taylor and Mark presented their case to Sens. Brown and Voinovich. (I covered some of their progress here.)
Their proposal is simple: turn Wilmington and Clinton County into a Green Enterprise Zone, securing federal and state monies to build green industry and provide jobs for the skilled workforce laid off by DHL. They've released a series of specific proposals to achieve this goal. They've held well-attended meetings to raise awareness for their plan across Ohio and in the nation's capital.
And now, they need your help.
In response to the interest generated by the "60 Minutes" story (for which they were interviewed, but didn't make the final cut), Mark and Taylor have released a plan to provide at least some jobs in Wilmington as soon as possible. You can read their proposal here (or a more detailed version here). It involves home weatherization, an important goal for a town whose residents are caught in one of the coldest winters on record and lack money to pay even for heating costs. Expanding an already-existing federal grant program for home weatherizations, the proposal seeks to hire over 1,000 laid-off Wilmington residents to weatherize the homes of their even-poorer neighbors -- cutting down heating costs and providing a much-needed financial boost to those who would be temporarily employed.
What Can You Do?
- Sign the online petition for the "Create Jobs Now" weatherization project. The signatures will be sent to local, state, and national officials in a big push to get this plan approved by Congress.
- Write a letter or e-mail to an Ohio public official or newspaper in support of the project, to help raise awareness.
- Donate to ENERGIZE Clinton County and help this fledgling organization keep taking its message to the people in power, so that Taylor and Mark can save the community they've been a part of all their lives.
- Join the ENERGIZE Clinton County e-mail list to get regular updates about the group's progress.
- If you'd like to help more directly, contact Taylor and Mark and let them know -- they've got plenty for you to do.
The "60 Minutes" story was excellent coverage of one of America's most economically-devastated communities. But you don't just have to feel sorry for the laid-off Wilmington workers freezing in their homes right now -- you can do something to help them. Join with Mark, Taylor, and ENERGIZE Clinton County and help Wilmington residents save their families and their community from being wiped off the map by America's economic crisis.