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Author: Rachel Isaacson

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Rachel Isaacson / Author

risaacson@antiochcollege.edu

Rachel Isaacson is from class of 2019 at Antioch College with a bachelors in Political Economics. Her interests have been related to nonprofit, political, and media fields of work. She has worked for a number of organizations such as Equality Ohio and Dress for Success, as well as WYSO Public Radio (NPR affiliated) and has been an assistant kindergarten teacher in Yellow Springs, Ohio. She also has been involved in local government starting at 17 years old when she drafted a bill at the Ohio House of Representatives where she later worked as a constituent liaison for Rep. Brigid Kelly and also has experience working at Columbus City Hall. Upon graduation, she served two years as an Americorps VISTA and has dedicated herself to environmental and local food system work with a particular focus on regenerative agriculture and soil health advocacy.

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SKILLS & INTERESTS

As a teenager, I realized that many of the challenges I witnessed myself, my family, and others in my community experiencing were systemic in nature. Through this realization, I felt called to actively participate in creating the changes I wanted to see in my community through living to my values and entering the world of policy and advocacy as well. Due to my passionate nature, I began my journey of public service at fifteen years old. Ten years later, I’ve worked diligently on issues pertaining to women, children, youth, and environmentalism. I began by volunteering for Equality Ohio advocating for ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act) and marriage equality, as well as volunteering at the Clintonville Community Resource Center handing out crates of fresh produce to help others, as well as my own family, who struggled with food insecurity. At seventeen years old, I interned at Dress for Success in Columbus as well as at the Ohio House of Representatives as an intern for Former Representative (currently Franklin County Auditor) Michael Stinziano. While working at the Ohio Statehouse, I made sure to advocate for policy solutions to issues such as conversion therapy on minors – a cruel, non-medically backed practice that had devastating effects on LGBTQ youth. Due to my efforts and the willingness of Representative Stinziano to support progressive policy, I was given the special opportunity and responsibility of drafting legislation in my home state. While it did not pass at the state level, I felt so inspired by the fact that I could help make such a difference even before I could legally vote. I chose to attend Antioch College in Yellow Springs, OH for my Bachelor's Degree in Political Economics to attain more academic and experiential knowledge in the political realm. Antioch College offered me four 3-month long co-ops where I could go out into the world and learn by doing. For my first co-op, I got to live my dream of working in D.C. where I became a fellow at a non-profit called CCMC (Communications Consortium Media Center) where I learned first-hand the influence that media has on public policy on all levels: local, nationally, and even internationally. CCMC partnered and supported other nonprofits with aligned values to support gender equality and reproductive justice, the environment, child welfare, human rights, and more by providing outreach and media expertise with the goal of influencing public policy. My largest project with CCMC involved campaigning against child marriage around the world. For my second co-op, I went back to Columbus, Ohio at the Ohio House of Representatives but this time as a constituent liaison for Cincinnati Representative Brigid Kelly. At the same time, I ambitiously also interned at Columbus City Hall where I worked with Michael Stiniziano again as a Columbus City Councilmember. Through my work with Stinziano and with the support of Columbus LGBTQ organizations, I was able to brief Stinziano and other council members on the issue of conversion therapy on minors, and the Columbus City Council successfully and unanimously passed the ban on March 27th, 2017! During my third co-op, I worked as an assistant kindergarten teacher at Mills Lawn Elementary and then ended with my final co-op at an NPR-affiliated radio station called WYSO Public Radio where I produced 19 podcasts and radio stories about people and projects in my community. My senior capstone was titled “The Political Economy of Public School Lunches: A Call for a Cultural Shift towards Healthy and Local Food.” Upon graduation, I began working at Agraria Center for Regenerative Practice in Yellow Springs, Ohio on marketing, media, outreach, events, and conferences. Agraria’s mission is to cultivate community resilience by modeling regenerative practices that restore ecosystem health, heal our relationship with the land, and grow just and equitable food systems. I have primarily focused on advocating for a number of regenerative, ecologically-based land practices that increase soil health because soil regeneration is one of the most hopeful solutions for mitigating climate change – one of the most, if not the most existential challenge of this lifetime. While I’ve learned a great deal about the technical aspects of regenerative agriculture and community-based climate change initiatives, I realize that large-scale efforts to curb the ecological crisis and for ecologically-minded farmers to truly thrive will rest on changes to public policy. I am currently working towards my Master's in Public Administration and Leadership at the John Glenn College of Public Affairs at The Ohio State University with the goal to gain important skillsets and knowledge that will help me to be most effective as a public servant. Antioch College Founder Horace Mann believed that we should be ashamed to die without having won some victory for humanity. I believe that my big victories and achievements in this life will truly just be the culmination of the many smaller victories that I win each day, and in each moment, that I live with the intention of dedicating myself passionately to my values. With solidarity, kindness, compassion, respect, and love, Rachel Isaacson

My Work

   

Accomplishments

   

Gallery I

Gallery II


 

Exploration of Sound, Sight, and Sentiment: Rachel Isaacson ’19 at Mills Lawn Elementary School in Yellow Springs, Ohio

Feb 10, 2019
 

This past co-op I worked at Mills Lawn Elementary School in Yellow Springs, Ohio as an assistant kindergarten teacher for all the kindergarten classes, which consisted of sixty kids total. My main job was working with the kids who scored lowest on tests on things like letter recognition, sound, and writing. It was very gratifying to see the kids I worked with develop their skills. Beyond this, I helped Dawn Boyer, the director of advancement, with emails, distributing newsletters, database entry, and writing thank you letters to donors.

I took the class Sound, Sight, and Sentiment: Phenomenology of Place. On the syllabus, it states: “First, we explore how people move through place in a technology-saturated epoch where, for sure, the present is shot through with the past. Second, we become aware of the dominant sensory tendencies of our day, and consider nuancing the visual epistemologies of Western thought in order to raise a greater awareness of the function of sound in society— embracing Nancy’s concept of the sonorous. Then we exercise our developing ability to think critically about culture through a documentation of experience in situ, resulting in rich media or long form narrative reflections on the sounds, sights, and pervading sentiments in the place that is your co-op.”

Though my job was in Yellow Springs, I lived fifteen minutes away in Springfield, Ohio. I was able to have an in-depth, reflective experience of the places I was in and visiting. I made myself be aware of each sensory aspect of experiencing a place, with a focus on the visual and auditory elements. I documented much of my experiences through video, audio, and pictures to capture the feeling of the spaces I encountered.

I created a map of community assets of Yellow Springs that included pictures, videos, and audio. I also added vignette pieces, which were open-ended creative pieces. The assets I put in my map were: Spirited Goat Coffee House, Mills Lawn Elementary School, the Glen Helen Nature Preserve, Emporium Wines and Underdog Cafe, and the Village Council Art Gallery. My vignette pieces were a poem, a photo series on my experiences of the sky as a place, as well as another photo series of my apartment in Springfield called “I brought home to a temporary living space.”

To check out my map and vignette pieces, click here to be taken to my blog.

Place is complicated. There are a lot of approaches that have gone into defining place. In this course, we read “Place: A Short Introduction” by Tim Cresswell. On page fifty-one, he stated that there are three ways place can be approached. The first one is a descriptive approach which is particularly concerned with the distinctiveness of a place. The second approach is a social constructionist approach to place. This approach is held by feminists, Marxists, and post-structuralists. They look at the social construction that gives places their distinct attributes. For example, wider systems such as the patriarchy, capitalism, heterosexism, and post-colonialism have had a massive influence on the development of places. Lastly, the third is the phenomenological approach. This approach is focused on seeing the “essence” of human existence as a “place.” Essentially, they look at the deeper, across-the-board sense of place amongst humankind. The author recommended looking at the overlap between the three approaches and to see them as all equally important.

I think these three approaches are good to look at. Of course, we can look at places by their distinct place. I can tell my friend where I am at by providing an address. I am also familiar with the second approach due to being a political-economic major. I have done quite a lot of contemplation of how places are socially constructed. The third approach caused me to contemplate some new things. I thought about my collective senses that assist me in creating my idea of place. In this course, we went into how sound deeply impacts place. When I do a dishwashing shift at Antioch’s farm-to-table kitchen, whether or not I have music to listen to impacts my experience in the place immensely. Our senses are able to deepen, and even shape, our experiences.

Here is how I broadly define place: a specific location in space and time. I think what is interesting is how much our senses impact our ideas of these locations. You can go to a restaurant, for example, and the first time you go you feel one way about the place, and the second time you may feel another. The restaurant is the same place, but… the place is different once you feel differently. You and a partner could have a special location you like to go sit on, but that location is not the same when going without them. We hold significance to place and define a place at a fluid level, as our experiences and feelings fluctuate. 

Photo credit: https://www.ysschools.org


 

Exploring Local Radio: Rachel Isaacson ’19 at WYSO in Yellow Springs, Ohio

Oct 16, 2018
 

My fourth co-op experience has been at WYSO Public Radio Station, which is an NPR-affiliated local radio station located in Yellow Springs. They broadcast 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with 50,000 watts of power and they reach twelve counties in Southwest Ohio with a potential audience of more than one million people. According to their website, the mission of WYSO is “to give voice to our community, our nation, and our world with independent news, music, and storytelling.” Their mission is based on their belief in education, collaboration, editorial independence, and diversity. I started working at WYSO at the beginning of the year in January during my academic quarters and now am working full time for the remainder of my summer co-op.

My time at WYSO has been a fun and hands-on experience. I have been able to acquaint myself with the programs used for radio and have strengthened my ability to communicate. The work I have done has mainly been editing and co-hosting podcasts, as well as conducting interviews. The Antioch College reunion was during my first week of co-op and I was able to interview seven accomplished alumni all in one day. The experience was fantastic, and I was able to hear about and speak on many dynamic topics. I held my first interview with an alumnus who spent most of their young years as a freight train traveler and ended up taking environmental science at Antioch, which sparked their interest in solar energy and resulted in them installing solar panels in Antarctica. My second interview was with a D.C. alumnus who works for NASA and we had an extensive conversation about physics, quantum theory, and the universe. Then, I spoke with one of the winners of the Winning Victories for Humanity grant about how her organization in Washington helps the visitation process of children in the foster care system be more hopeful and less traumatic. I can definitely say I grew and learned a lot from those interviews.

The very next week, WYSO hosted a Dayton Youth Radio Camp where kids and teenagers from the Dayton, Ohio area were able to come in for a week and learn about radio, including how to do field-recording, interviewing, scriptwriting, and digital audio editing in order to collaborate and produce audio stories about our local community. I was able to assist them in their learning, alongside impressive radio professionals, Basim Blunt (the project coordinator for Dayton Youth Radio) and Katie Davis (who is known for her radio work on NPR’s All Things Considered and This American Life). It was very rewarding, and I was very proud to be able to be a part of helping to cater to our future generation’s interest in working in radio and helping them leave feeling proud and confident in their abilities.

During this co-op, I have been able to delve into more complex radio stories than I did in the past. I am currently working on a podcast about a dementia-friendly Yellow Springs initiative that intends to help our community become more accessible for those with cognitive disorders. This podcast is important to me as the largest age population in Yellow Springs is seniors. I conducted interviews with the executive directors of the Greene County Council on Aging, the Yellow Springs Senior Center, and the Yellow Springs Chamber of Commerce—all of whom were named Karen. Being able to do this type of story has shown me that there is a way I can intersect my interests in local social justice with my interests in media and radio.

I am currently a fourth-year student at Antioch College who is majoring in political economics, and this co-op expanded my ideas on how I can use my skills in communications and media as a way to assist local organizations and help the communities I am apart of. Specifically, I have found radio work to be very inspiring as it is a free and accessible way that we spread education and information, and I am very thankful for this experience.

Photo credit: https://www.wyso.org/


 

Preparing to be a Legislative Aide: Rachel Isaacson ’19 at Columbus City Hall and Ohio House of Representatives in Columbus, Ohio

Mar 16, 2017
 

My second co-op combines two varied experiences. I am interning at Columbus City Hall for Councilmember Michael Stinziano and I am a constituent liaison for State Representative Brigid Kelly. They are both elected officials who help make decisions affecting the areas they represent. As for their missions, I am going to quote Stinziano from a lunch conversation we had. He asked me what my mission was and I replied, “To make this world a better place.” He had then responded: “See, I think every elected official wants to make the world a better place. Where we differentiate, is how we perceive what a better world means.”

I worked for Stinziano two years ago when he was a State Representative for Columbus and it was the experience that got me passionate in the direction of politics. I told him I looked forward to working with him again, and I am happy that co-op gave me the opportunity to do so. City Hall is different than the Statehouse in a few ways: There’s way less people working there, and it is more focused on Columbus and not Ohio as a whole. At the Statehouse, I was interacting with people from all of the the state. In City Hall, I am learning more in depth information about the history and standing of Columbus, my hometown. The places are different, but my work as an intern did not change much. I draft resolutions, constituent letters, gather signatures, run errands, and he keeps his office just as active as it was. This experience builds upon my educational goals of having an in depth understanding of the inner workings of City Hall, and making long lasting connections.

I have found it to be such an honor to apply my previous Statehouse internship experience to help Representative Brigid Kelly. She was newly elected, and just getting off the ground. When I started, I was the first intern she had. I told her a bit about myself, and work I thought would be good for me to start on. Much of my time has been spent creating constituent letter templates, creating constituent databases, and doing outreach. My goal was to create a good system that any intern could pick up where I left off and get started. After a while, she told me my new title would be constituent liaison instead of intern. I feel like I am doing a significant job helping her connect with her constituents, and furthering her chances of reelection. Beyond the work aspect, I have been able to get back in touch with some friends I made two years ago and applying what I learned last time to my current experience. These friendships have helped me understand more about local politics and get me excited about how I will work with them in the future.

Many of the challenges I have come to face have been solved by having learned how to ask for help when I need it. Co-op has helped me throw in my communication ability and overcome my nervousness. My first co-op experience was all brand new, whereas I have had to do similar work that I have been doing in this co-op in the past. I feel confident even though I run into assignments that I am unsure how to complete because I find that people would rather be asked clarification than receive poor work.

Overall, I can see myself returning back to this area of work once I graduate from Antioch. I am looking into being a legislative aide for an elected official, or possibly as a legislative service commissioner. I am still very open-minded about my future and hope to meet as many people as possible that would be interested in working with me in the future. Who knows, I could end up in a couple of places. I look forward to it.

Photo credit: Excel Management Systems, Inc. https://www.emsi.com/successes-1/


 

Exploring the World of Nonprofits: Rachel Isaacson ’19 at CCMC in Washington, D.C.

May 03, 2016
 

For my first co-op experience, I am in DC for the very first time as an intern/fellow at CCMC. CCMC stands for Communications Consortium Media Center and we help other nonprofits with their public relations via media to influence policy change. We have developed many campaigns on a centered around a number of issues here in the United States including: women’s equality, reproductive rights, the environment, and health care. The mission statement shared on CCMC’s website shares, “Communications Consortium Media Center seeks to influence public debate in ways that support individual rights, healthy families, cultural diversity and a sustainable environment. We believe collaboration among nonprofit groups sharing goals is an effective way to gain credibility and influence public policy. CCMC works to empower diverse and underrepresented communities to participate more fully in decisions affecting their lives.”

The mission statement was a mission I wanted to take part in. Currently, CCMC is primarily focused in on women’s issues and it was made sure that I had a strong passion for women’s rights before I was accepted into my position as an intern. I had to be comfortable being in a strong feminist atmosphere. I knew that I would be a great fit for the type of passion they were searching for. Since around the time I was fifteen, I began to take a strong interest in advocating for women’s rights, and overall support the empowerment of women around me. When I was seventeen, I interned for an organization called Dress for Success where I helped empower women in my community back in Columbus, Ohio reach economic independence. Outside the work atmosphere, I had been involved in many events, kept up with policy around women’s issues, and always tried to educate those around me on various topics around women’s issues.

Not one day is like another working at CCMC. As someone who likes to time manage, I am happy that I also have the ability to be flexible. I am given about four projects to work on at a time, I go to different events, and I run various errands. CCMC has challenged my media skills by having to use public relations platforms such as Nexis, Cision, and Emma. Other challenges have been doing things such as being able to download a speech from Youtube, edit the speech so only certain clips are included, and then put those clips together in a neat manner to be put in a presentation without instruction. On just my second day, I attended an event on Equal Pay Day where I watched actress Patricia Arquette and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney give speeches about the gender wage gap we have here in America. What I mostly do is I compile specialized lists of reporters who are writing about certain topics relating to topics that organizations that are working with CCMC want to make pitches about. What I enjoy most about this aspect of my job is that in the process of making these lists, I am becoming very knowledgeable on the topics I am researching. For the gender wage gap, for example, I had looked at over 100 articles about it and am now very well spoken on the manner.

CCMC overall has been a great opportunity to grow in comprehension of a number of issues, challenge my media and communication skills, and establish connections in DC for my future. I am currently majoring in Political Economics at Antioch College and think that CCMC is a good first step in learning how nonprofit organizations function and getting to know how to navigate DC as a center of politics for the United States and the world.