Environmental Studies 220
May 6, 2005
Many Waters Community Development: Sustainability Indicators
The preliminary goal of my internship was to compile and discuss information concerning sustainability. Some of this information was about many site specific projects, but was discussed in terms of what it might tell us about the sustainability practices that are or could be developing in the Walla Walla area. When I first applied for the internship the possible tasks were many: online research, writing brief reports, conducting interviews, making arrangements for meetings or workshops, website support, database maintenance capturing and managing images of locations or events, and managing communications with academic and business leaders. Throughout the internship, I have arranged meetings, compiled small reports (on the Reid Campus Center, and in the form of informal reporting of my online research), conducted online research, and contacted government and academic (Whitman College) leaders (namely Bob Carson, Dan Park, Bill Hashim, Denise Hazlett, and Peter Harvey) in order to get as much information as possible on the many ideas behind creating a sustainable community. Generally, this has taken around four hours per week. More recently, a secondary goal was added to my internship: to create an information session for local business people concerning what sustainable practices they might follow. This session took the form of an informational tour held at the Reid Campus Center that describes the sustainable practices that Whitman found beneficial in its building plans.
The majority of my research for this project was done online and in the Whitman College library. The tasks given to me each week were often geared toward this research method. Both Penrose and the internet had information concerning statistics of the Walla Walla region that can be used as indicators of sustainability (though many of the internet sources were found in hard copy form in the library). Other sources included the help of Bob Carson (Whitman Professor), Denise Hazlett (Whitman Professor), Dan Park (Whitman Director of the Physical Plant), Peter Harvey (Whitman Treasurer), and Bill Hashim (Dept. of Ecology: WA state).
Once I began collecting information, I compiled a folder in order to contain all the hard copies that I retrieved from various sources. This folder also holds my notes and assignments for each week. I’ve also compiled a list of theses that were of interest to my sponsor, Randal Son. Other assignments that I completed were the compilation of information on a flyer for the Reid Campus Center tour and a letter to several officials asking for their insight on issues concerning community projects (such as communication and implementation of those projects).
Other Aspects of the Internship
In addition to my contacts and other research sources, I had weekly appointments with my sponsor, Randal Son, and his partner, Amy Schwab. These meetings were held at the Fine Arts House (my residence) or at Amy’s house. At each meeting we sit down to discuss the research and events of the previous week. We then discuss these topics and try to figure out the next step that should be taken. Normally, these meetings lasted anywhere from 1.5 to 2 hours.
This was a pretty busy semester for me, so I enjoyed the fact that
most of my duties could be done at my convenience. However, the weekly meetings
have been a little less accommodating in that there have been many rescheduled
appointments. Both Randal and Amy have been open to all questions and have made
it easy to get in touch with them. They are both fairly prompt when responding
to my messages, something that is greatly appreciated.
At first, I was interested in the internship in terms of being able to participate in something as important as trying to make a community practice sustainability. I was also interested in watching the start-up process of a non-profit organization. There are many challenges that are involved with this process. The main challenge that I was exposed to was what I like to call “compilation of pertinent of information.” That is, it is important to get information concerning what goals make sense and what goals “customers” will care about when starting up an organization of this sort. Non-profit organizations such as Many Waters Community Development offer the community a way to voice their concerns and a platform to implement the changes they see fit. As far as my duties involving research, I found them to be somewhat uninteresting until Amy and Randal began to help me focus the study on the economic side of things. They were both very accommodating, in that tried to make my job as interesting for me as possible. I am very excited by the way the tour turned out and was happy that I got the chance to show off Whitman’s sustainable achievements.
I have encountered very few problems over the course of the internship. As I mentioned, some of the weekly meetings were hard to coordinate. Other than this minor issue I can’t say anything has caused me much grief.
Overall, I have enjoyed this internship. As a part of this internship, I have been introduced to many aspects of the Walla Walla community to which I had not previously been exposed. This experience has been beneficial to my education and growth at Whitman and has led me to become a better-informed community member. In the future this experience will benefit me in that: (1) I feel that I can participate in events that involve raising community awareness and that (2) I can communicate in a meaningful way with community members (including officials).
Recommendations for the Future
If this project is continued in the future, I would recommend that a specific project be established from the beginning. The Reid Campus Tour was definitely the most exciting aspect of the internship for me, and it would have been nice to do participate in such an activity from the get-go. Also, I recommend that the “getting to know the intern” aspect of the weekly meetings continues- I found that this was a helpful avenue for me to express myself and to establish a theme of sorts for the work.
Overall, I find that the internship is fairly straightforward and that Randal and Amy have done a good job guiding me through this process.
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