In the Fall 2010 issue of Haverford magazine we told you about Energize Clinton County (ECC), the non-profit co-founded by Mark Rembert ’07 to help strengthen the economy of his rural hometown in Wilmington, Ohio. Now the young activist, who was one of five finalists for the 2010 Do Something Awards, has shared his ideas for Clinton County with another type of Clinton: the 42nd president.
Rembert was asked to represent his organization at the June meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, an invite-only summit organized by President Clinton and his Foundation, in Chicago. Clinton’s mission for these meetings is to turn “ideas into action” by connecting academics, global leaders, business people and non-profit workers. They have, in the past, traditionally been organized around issues in the developing world, but this summer’s meeting took a look inward at domestic economic policy and jobs creation. Rembert was there to participate in a “working group” about rural poverty, and while there, made a “commitment to action,” announcing Energize Clinton County’s partnership with the nearby University of Cincinnati to work on rural community planning.
“Many small towns and rural communities never invested in community planning, or maybe they did decades ago, but the plans that were once developed are out-of-date given current contexts,” says Rembert of the reasons behind his organization’s new project. “So we’ve been working with the University of Cincinnati to put together a framework for a rural planning center that we would build in collaboration with them. [The center] would match faculty and students from the university’s school of planning with leaders in rural communities who would go through a planning process that would then be followed by a consultancy from our organization, which specializes more in the tangible—turning ideas into action in rural communities.”
The alum was impressed not just with the work done at the summit, but with President Clinton as an orator and organizer.
“He’s an amazing person,” says Rembert of the former president. “It’s incredible that this is what he has devoted his post-presidential life to, continuing to inspire action and change and really getting people to turn their ideas into tangible results.”
While describing his work at the summit, Rembert also told us that there are some new Ford connections at his organization. Parker Hoar ’07 joined ECC in June following his graduation from University of Massachusetts Amherst’s architecture program. “Through his studies, he’d become very interested in community design and the role design plays in community development,” says Rembert of his former classmate. “He saw what I’d been working on in Wilmington and thought it might be an opportunity for him to explore that further.”
Though Hoar is currently finishing up his three-month tenure with EEC, Rembert hopes to raise money to extend his stay in Wilmington further so he can continue his work. “Parker is now hard at work helping us to preserve the history and legacy of our community by creating re-development plans for the restoration of many historic buildings in our downtown—the heart and soul of the community,” says Rembert.
Rembert invites other Fords interested in community planning, green jobs or renewable energy to contact him for internships or possible job opportunities with ECC as he continues to expand its mission.
“Why I am eternally grateful to Parker is that he chose to come to a place like Wilmington,” he says. “In rural America, one of our greatest challenges is the flight of our best and brightest to urban areas across the country. These young people carry the passion, excitement and creativity that we need to reverse decades of decline in rural communities in this country. Yet, these young people are also the first to leave their rural communities behind. Parker—like so many HC alums—has the ability to be anywhere in the world, and I can not emphasize enough how important it is to us that he chose to come to a place that is in grave need of his abilities and his vision. His presence has already made a profound impact, and we look forward to the great things that will come from his work.”