As the words “Portland State” rolled off former Vice President Al Gore’s tongue Wednesday evening, the whoops, cheers and claps that came from over 300 people gathered in the Smith Memorial Student Union Ballroom was deafening. The occasion was “Blood, Guts and (Al) Gore,” an event that brought Gore to the South Park Blocks via a 30-minute webcast that stressed the importance of college students voting to hold elected officials accountable for moving towards clean and renewable energy.
As the words “Portland State” rolled off former Vice President Al Gore’s tongue Wednesday evening, the whoops, cheers and claps that came from over 300 people gathered in the Smith Memorial Student Union Ballroom was deafening.
The occasion was “Blood, Guts and (Al) Gore,” an event that brought Gore to the South Park Blocks via a 30-minute webcast that stressed the importance of college students voting to hold elected officials accountable for moving towards clean and renewable energy.
“It was inspiring,” said Portland State student Sam Taylor, 21, about the webcast. “It made me proud to hear PSU mentioned.”
Gore’s shout-out to Portland State came because the university had RSVP’d the second most students to attend the webcast viewing party of any school in the nation. It is estimated that over 150 schools across the nation held viewing parties Wednesday.
In addition to Gore’s webcast, a slew of speakers addressed the importance of voting, promoting sustainability and shifting forward towards clean and renewable energy sources.
Following the event–which was joint-sponsored by ASPSU, PSU’s Environmental Club and the Sustainability Club–student group members went “trick-or-voting,” knocking on doors around campus to remind students to vote.
Noelle Studer-Spevack, PSU sustainability coordinatorReviewing some of the sustainable efforts Portland State has made in the past as more motivation for the future, Studer-Spevack outlined her desire to make the university a living, learning laboratory.
To make this possible, Studer-Spevack gave a rundown of four things that must happen at Portland State: Make education more real; share existing sustainability information around campus; create a student sustainability center; and hold a competition for ways to make PSU greener and fund the best proposals.
Studer-Spevack concluded by stating that democracy, the ecosystem and education all depend on students.
Nick Fish, Portland City commissionerFish’s first words to Portland State students were “Thank you.”
The “thank you” was in response to Portland State’s leadership in promoting sustainability and Fish’s many positive ties to the university.
With great energy and passion, Fish placed the power of change on students, telling those in attendance that they are the generation that “thinks globally and acts locally” and “will not settle for small adjustments.”
Fish expressed the importance of students getting out to vote and considering how sustainability and environmental issues will factor into how they fill out their ballots.
“How you vote could impact not only your generation, but your children’s generation, and your children’s children’s generation,” Fish said. “Friends, we live in tough times…but it is moments like this that I feel optimistic about our future.”
Wim Wiewel, PSU presidentLike always, Wiewel threw out a few jokes that drew laughs during his time at the mic, but Portland State’s president shifted to a more serious tone when he addressed the importance of voting in the upcoming election.
“Registering alone is not enough, now you have to go out and vote,” Wiewel said after praising the voter registration efforts at Portland State.
Wiewel continued on, saying how sustainability is such a big part of the national economy.
“Sustainability can lead the way out of current economic struggles,” Wiewel said.
Wrapping up his speech, Wiewel stressed how important it is for voters to consider sustainability when making the crucial decision of which candidates they will choose and how they will vote on measures.
“You and all of us collectively hold our future in your hands,” Wiewel said.
WebcastOpening with images of Gore preaching several years ago about how the United States must use only 100 percent carbon-free energy within 10 years, the webcast was a live address from the former vice president in Nashville, Tenn.
When Gore took the screen, he thanked all the students who were tuning in–giving Portland State and two other schools a special thanks–and then spoke passionately about “repowering” America.
Gore’s primary message was that students should vote on the basis of holding elected officials accountable on energy issues and the climate crisis.
In Gore’s opinion, the current economic crisis, energy crisis and war on terrorism have a common thread-the fact that America has a dangerous dependence on foreign oil.
To greatly reduce, and eventually eliminate, this dependence, Gore recommends a switch to renewable, carbon-free electricity.
“For those who think that is idealistic, it isn’t,” Gore said, before adding that many doubted President John F. Kennedy when he claimed that within 10 years an American would be on the moon.
Gore said the best way to stimulate the economy is through the creation of green jobs, which he said would be necessary if more emphasis is placed on renewable, clean energy.
Even Gore was speechless when attempting to articulate how important it is for students to not only vote, but also to become advocates to end the energy crisis.
“I can’t even begin to tell you how important this is,” Gore said.
Students speak out
Sam Taylor, 21“I like how it makes it clear how urgent this situation is, and that there are no other options.”
Sean Harris, 24“I was impressed with Gore’s ability to garner that much attention…when he says things people will listen because he is not pushing a platform.”
P.J. Houser, 25, coordinator of PSU’s Environmental Club that helped organize the event“I was excited to see how it turned out…and my favorite part was when [Gore] mentioned PSU’s name.”