My first experience with Environmental Initiative was an event hosted around source water protection. The event ended with a recap that included perspectives shared by attendees and it felt like we had made meaningful contributions. I appreciated the care taken to truly hear everyone’s input and was inspired to do further research on the organization. I was drawn to the focus on Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion and work that seeks both short and long term results. Work that centers these values is the way forward, and I appreciate that Environmental Initiative goes beyond conversations and takes action to demonstrate a commitment to its values.
In my previous work with AmeriCorps in Cape Cod and on the coast of California I worked with wildlife and agriculture organizations deeply rooted in their communities. I knew that I would return to Minnesota and experiencing organizations creating positive change while in AmeriCorps inspired me to get more involved in my own community. When I moved to Minneapolis, I started volunteering with Sheridan Neighborhood Organization, a small, volunteer-led community organization in my neighborhood in Northeast. I was inspired by their work, from helping a local mosque and local brewery partner to create a community garden to helping residents improve their homes. I joined the organization’s board in April 2020 and the work I was a part of was a bright spot for me amid the pandemic. I helped create an anti-racist book club, convene neighborhood clean-ups, and get help to neighbors in need. Meeting my neighbors and helping others in my community was a fulfilling experience. This along with my time as an outreach specialist with Coon Creek Watershed District showed me the power of relationship building. A relationship with one person or organization would sometimes turn into multiple programs enriching the community. It is impressive to see how just one connection can grow into an opportunity to create change.
I believe in the power of collective action, and I get great satisfaction from doing work that gives people the tools to take that kind of action. I appreciate getting to interact with people from different backgrounds and learn from them.