Over the next few weeks we’ll be highlighting some of the many brave and passionate people that will be appearing at New Story in Morgantown on June 16 & 17.
Today, it’s the West Virginians behind OSAY.co.
For more information, and to register for this free event, visit newstory17.splashthat.com
Used to be that West Virginian grit and ingenuity was a thing that bloomed underground.
Not anymore. These days you find it in the cloud.
“Sticking it to the man” – or, more politely, challenging authority – is a character trait deeply ingrained in Appalachian DNA. Back in the day it used to look like labor strikes and forged lives of independence on the land.
In 2016, three not-to-be-trifled-with West Virginians – Jennifer Susman, Carling McManus and Ankur Kumar – created and launched OSAY, an online tool that helps fired-up advocates use social media to press elected leaders and influence policy.
(Pronounced “oh say”, OSAY is a reference to the first line of the National Anthem.)
It is the product of a time in which a lot of people – and particularly young people – are frustrated with their elected leaders, and believe that politicians should be more responsive to the demands of citizens.
Rather than complain aimlessly and point fingers, Jennifer, Carling and Ankur decided to take action. And so they built OSAY, the first platform of its kind that harnesses the voice and energy of social media into targeted campaigns to influence the West Virginia legislature, and even federal policy.
“OSAY is about providing everyday folks with the tools and education they need to become engaged advocates,” goes the OSAY creation story. “It’s about holding the smallest and largest political offices accountable… And it’s about mobilizing citizens to make positive change in their communities.”
As well as being a magnificent example of what savvy people can do to reinvent civic and political action, OSAY also demonstrates the innovation, creativity and brilliance at work here in West Virginia right now.
And that’s why we’ll be talking to the creators of OSAY at New Story. Because New Story is all about showcasing local brilliance.
If that sounds like your cup of tea, get along.