NextGen brings Fun. singer

CLINTON OLSASKY, Staff Writer

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On Wednesday, many gathered in the Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center to not only attend a Nate Ruess concert but also to help the fight against climate change. The concert, part of Reverb’s Campus Consciousness Tour, was co-sponsored by NextGen Climate Action.

According to their official website, NextGen Climate Action is “committed to fighting climate change through political action to preserve American health and prosperity for future generations.”

The group was founded in 2013 and has been active in Iowa since April 2014. Within that amount of time, NextGen Climate Action acquired 10 field offices across Iowa and has assembled on about 20 college campuses, including each of the three major regent universities in the state.

NextGen Climate Action is a non-partisan organization, and, as a result, is attempting to find common ground in the world of politics.

“We’ve actually gotten sign on and support from Democrats and Republicans,” said Zack Davis, state director of NextGen Climate Action in Iowa, “and we’re approaching both sides of the aisle that are running for president with the same message: What is their plan to get our country to 50 percent clean energy by 2030?”

This end goal, which the organization refers to as “50 by 30,” is NextGen Climate Action’s primary objective. According to statistics provided by the organization, Iowa’s wind industry generates more than 28 percent of the state’s electricity. Davis says that there is more good news to come. According to Davis, a statement from Governor Branstad on Sept. 1 revealed that Iowa is “on a trajectory to produce over 100 percent of the electrical needs of the state from wind alone by 2030.”

However, Davis went on to reiterate the need for urgent action.

“There’s a lot of policy that needs to be implemented to make sure we can get to that point,” Davis said. “So that’s why we’re calling on our elected officials and leaders to be bold and support these initiatives.”

Senior global studies major Eileen Tucker, who is a volunteer member of the UNI chapter of NextGen Climate Action, also spoke about the group’s urgency concerning climate change.

“Basically, NextGen does not want to be here in the next 15 years. We want people to act now, vote on these issues, and vote for candidates that support these issues,” Tucker said.

The UNI chapter of NextGen Climate Action is centered on student involvement and volunteer work. In addition to hosting weekly meetings, clip boarding and tabling, members have written letters to the editor and developed social content to share on their networks. Members of the organization have had the opportunity to talk to presidential candidates face to face – including Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush – and ask them about their clean energy plans.

Senior interior design major Brianna Meyer, another volunteer member, spoke of the organization’s mission and of Nate Ruess’s impact.

“I think it’s important for UNI students to really think about [clean energy policies] since this will be affecting our futures and our future generations,” Meyer said. “Having Nate Ruess on campus is really important because, since he is very well-known, it helps to get students more involved with the organization.”

“This is an issue that is important to him,” said Davis on Ruess’s involvement. “I think sometimes people forget artists are people, too. They have issues; they have things that they care about.” Because Ruess is from Iowa City, Davis explained that Ruess probably knows the impacts of extreme weather and flooding in Iowa.

Ruess performance

Ruess, known as the lead singer of the indie pop band Fun., took the stage on Wednesday following opening act Saint Motel, a California-based indie pop band. Ruess’s set of songs performed hits from his debut solo album, “Grand Romantic,” as well as Fun.— hits like, “We Are Young” and “Carry On,” ending with an encore performance of “Some Nights.”

Students reacted positively to Ruess’s performance, including sophomore English major Sarah Gorzney, who had never been to a concert before.

“I thought it was the coolest thing ever,” said Gorzney. “He’s from Iowa, so he had a more personal connection with the crowd than I think he would’ve had at other places. […] I lost my voice, but I kept singing anyway.”

Gabby Jackson, sophomore communication major also reacted positively to the concert.

“Nate Ruess was very entertaining and his voice was so unique.  I was excited for the concert, and I wasn’t disappointed because he put on a great show,” Jackson said.

UNI NextGen Climate Action meets every Tuesday at 8 p.m. in the Presidential Room in Maucker Union. Students interested in more information can follow their Twitter account @UNINextGen and visit their Facebook page at NextGen UNI.

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