The Change Exchange

Michael Pollan has sold 50 million books. Greg Mortenson has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Both have come to campus by way of the Year of Social Change.


It seems fair to ask: after all of that, why was the year’s culminating event The Change Exchange, a book swap benefiting the Meadville Public Library?

“Our main goal is to show the campus how they can get involved with social change right in Meadville,” said Jinnie Templin, ’11, one of the Student Ambassdors involved in planning the Year of Social Change. “I think sometimes we forget that social change is happening all around us, and if we stay involved in our own communities, it’s not hard to see that.”

The Change Exchange, held Wednesday, aimed to do just that. Doubling as both a book exchange and a local business fair, the event allowed students to buy used books while browsing the wares of fourteen Meadville businesses. Julia Harris, who planned the business fair as part of the Davies Community Leader Program, gave the rationale for the decision.

“A big part of the Davies program is to blur the gap between Allegheny College and the Meadville community, and this was my main goal in this aspect of the Year of Social Change event,” said Harris, ’11. “I personally feel that this a very important concept for the College and the Davies program to focus on.”

This concept led not only to the inclusion of local businesses in the event, but also the choice of Meadville Public Library as the main beneficiary.

“Books are a unifying factor between the college and the community,” said Templin. “We really wanted to do something that would draw in both college and community members.”

The choice, however, was more than just an incentive for community involvement.

“We also felt drawn to this cause because state funding for public libraries was recently cut by 20%,” said Sarah Gentile, ’10, another Student Ambassdor. “The public library provides valuable services for the Meadville area, so it’s important that it be maintained/preserved.”

“I don’t believe there’s any reason not to take advantage of the opportunity we’ve been given to help out when our efforts are benefiting such a worthy cause.”

Officially, The Change Exchange is the final event of the Year of Social Change, but Templin and the rest of the planners hope that the year’s lessons don’t end with the school year.

“It has been our hope from the very beginning that the campus community has adopted some of the things we’ve been trying to get across through hosting our various events, and that they will continue to create social change long after this year,” said Templin. “Change isn’t stagnant, and it’s happening around us all the time, and I think that this year’s events have definitely made people more aware of that.”

One way Templin plans to perpetuate this drive for change is through next year’s theme: the Year of Global Citizenship.

“One of our biggest goals… is to link the theme of the year from year to year,” said Templin, who co-wrote the proposal for the Year of Global Citizenship with David Valentine, ’10. “The theme’s of the year have such tremendous potential to build off of each other if there is coordination.”

The Year of Global Citizenship is still in the planning process, so information is still pending, but Templin was optimistic about the theme’s potential.

“Know that the push for  social change at Allegheny isn’t going to end after finals,” Templin said.

“At least not if I have anything to say about it.”