I am a junior at Portland State University and was initially interested in international development justice, specifically in Sub-Saharan East Africa. I spent a great deal of time volunteering with A Thousand Sisters, Run for Congo, Sister Somalia, and other activist organizations that worked to build a public understanding of Conflict Minerals, supply chain transparency, and other issues echoing throughout East Africa. But after spending a semester studying political ecology in Tanzania, I decided to refocus my attention on my home city of Portland, Oregon. I figured that my strengths and passion would be best applied to working in my own community, supporting and encouraging positive change at home, rather than asserting my beliefs and ideas on a society and culture that I should not have any direct cultural influence in. If I really want to see change internationally, I have to help rebuild a city that I believe is worth being modeled after.
I am currently studying community development and sustainable urban development as an honors student. In addition to coursework, I actively attend community based forums and discussions surrounding social justice, urban race conflicts, environmental sustainability, and am an active volunteer with Friends of Trees and the Portland Fruit Tree Project. I hike a lot in the gorge, on the coast, and in the mountains, and can be found around town at Bluegrass events.
From this community engagement and communications internship I hope to gain better insight into what it takes to create a more liveable urban environment from an intracultural perspective. Along with this ever-changing and expanding insight, I will develop the skills necessary to ask questions and try again. There are no formulas for answering the questions we need to ask when rebuilding the built environment. I believe this internship will help me more readily understand that my ideas won’t always work, they need to be reassessed, taken back to the drawing board, and sometimes scratched completely. It takes being able to live and grow from that, learning from those setbacks, to be successful in a field that is so new and innovative. Once my internship ends, I am looking forward to applying to graduate schools in Denmark for urban planning.