Throughout the Our Climate fellowship I have had the opportunity to learn about the Oregon legislative process and speak directly to and establish relationships with lawmakers. The Our Climate Youth Lobby Week was the culmination of weeks of picking apart policy language and sitting in on public hearings. From 12th to the 14th of April, students from around Oregon met with lawmakers over Zoom and discussed specific environmental policy and broad climate justice goals. This legislative session has been particularly tumultuous for every state, and every Senator and Representative that we were able to meet with gave us different insight on how their office was coping with it. Whether that meant sending aides in place of them or discussing the strain of working with partisan colleagues, etc.
- Rae Blackbird / Portland, OR
I attended a professional development workshop hosted by Our Climate leaders. As an upperclassman who will be graduating into a recession, and possibly another pandemic, it was incredibly reassuring to have these resources readily available to me. In this workshop, we learned what content to include, how to highlight our accomplishments, and appropriate formats. It was especially helpful when they performed the resume-building process live on a student and we were able to see how a strong resume was built, start to finish. In the past, I struggled to identify how to improve my resume because I had so few professional resources and connections as the first person in my family to attend school in the United States, but attending this workshop gave me a lot of new insights and confidence in myself. After this, I adjusted my resume and was able to land a summer internship with the Smithsonian Institute, so I highly encourage Our Climate to continue holding professional development events.
- Ania Ty, Oregon State University
University of Oregon’s OSPIRG students held a Youth Climate Summit on Earth Day. Attendees had the opportunity to hear from guest speakers, Isaac Vergun from Youth V. Gov and NAACP Lane County’s Aimee Okotie, then attend breakout rooms hosted by BRING recycling, Our Climate, EWEB, Fossil Fuel Eugene, and Beyond Toxics. Our Climate presented a slideshow on climate change, environmental injustice, and intersectionality and guided participants through a discussion. The goal was to create an interactive breakout room that got everyone thinking beyond the discussion questions. Throughout the discussion, participants shared their personal experiences not only with climate change, but as well their experiences with social justice issues. Many students felt passionate about the discussion topics because they have been impacted by these issues. I enjoyed that the participants asked questions about our work, and why we do what we do. There was a lot of conversation around environmental racism and intersectionality. My favorite part was seeing everyone take a step back to really think about their experiences.
- Tia Butler, Salem, OR
During the month of April I had the opportunity to facilitate and attend lobby days organized by Our Climate and our partners. While attending the Oregon Clean Energy Opportunity Campaign’s lobby day, I spoke directly with Senator Michael Dembrow about the Healthy Homes Bill ( HB 2842) advocating for it to be passed. During our conversation, I shared my experience during last summer’s wildfires when I had to temporarily leave my home due to poor indoor air quality. In giving my testimony for the bill and providing a personal connection to the impact this bill could have had on me, I found that this was the best way for me to resonate with the legislative process and legislation as a whole. My initial conceptions of legislation as prescriptive and impersonal were not necessarily wrong, but this lobby day event allowed me to see an alternative to an otherwise apathetic legislative process. During this short meeting, I was also exposed to the importance of the Stack method where frontline communities are given priority in providing testimony and speaking to their lawmakers. I learned that as a legislative fellow and youth team involved in policy, it is not only my responsibility to lobby my lawmakers but to facilitate conversation between lawmakers and their constituents to ease the discomfort that often accompanies these meetings. With that comes developing trauma informed spaces which I hope to see and introduce more of into the hearing process for legislation. During my fellowship, I was also able to attend Is it Hot Enough for Ya and listen in on discussions between OC youth and professionals involved in various degrees with human interaction with the environment and climate. For me, these discussions were a look into the career of environmental organizing. This helped me see both how people sustain themselves financially and mentally in environmental advocacy and how I can take the skills I’ve developed in this fellowship and transfer them to other aspects of my life whether it be through a career or continuing as a community organizer.
- Madelyn Mae Belden, Portland State University