When I enrolled in Environmental Engagement I was still studying abroad in Spain. Starting in November I began to receive emails to organize our engagement trip for the start of class in January. During this time prior to the semester I didn’t spend much time thinking about the trip or the class. In my mind I was preparing to come back spring semester to a trip where we went somewhere to “engage”. To me I assumed this would be setting up a table and talking to people or attempting to educate others through an activity. I never would have imagined the trip being a way to listen to our diverse community in Oregon.
What is Engagement?
Arriving in this course engagement to me was synonymous to action. I envisioned reading about activists like Julia Butterfly Hill and looking at how we could stick it to the man. I was confused about the direction of the course until I was able to seperate engagement from action. Professor Proctor’s post on engagement cleared up much of the confusion I had had. To me I always pictured engagement as me going to do something. It is impossible to engage if it is only one sided as such. To engage efficiently with purpose you need both parties to engage together as a collaboration. This type of engagement and communication takes after the Contemporary (dialogic) model of environmental communication. To me engagement now signifies, the coming together of two or more parties to collaborate in the communal search of a common truth.
To engage efficiently with purpose you need both parties to engage together as a collaboration.
Engaging Outside of Campus
The engagement field trip we took to start out the semester served as a tool to inspect how large and diverse of a field we were looking into. The reconnaissance trip I felt prepared me to better understand and situate the context of our course. Each stop was not only an opportunity to listen but to hear first hand success and struggles attempting to engage in a wide variety of fields. The organization that caught my attention the most was a combination of Oregon Farm Bureau and PCUN. Both organizations spoke about engagement within the region’s agricultural industry. As a hispanic studies major, PCUN brought together not only my academic studies, but also my professional interests working at a locally sourced restaurant.
Working with my team of Sophie and Frances, we have begun research into PCUN. Situated as a nonprofit to assist the Latinx community, PCUN works directly in the agricultural industry. In our posts, we break down how PCUN engages with their community. Each week we look to connect PCUN and their practices to the reading from class. This process not only promoted research into PCUN but also reinforced and deepened my understanding of the weekly readings. For each week our group was able to contextualize the readings into a real life scenario where our partner has a requirement to engage. Working with an latinx organization we noticed immigration and undocumented worker rights as some main issues. Learning about the polarization of issues in our country directly plays a role in our field work with the partner. The themes from class remain very present in issues that PCUN engages in. Through our research we can see that PCUN has created a vast network of actors. To create an ANT map served as our first challenge. With three different organizations we found mapping all the players to be difficult. PCUN seems to have projects on multiple fronts of their fight for equality. Our next step has been to reach out to PCUN for a formal interview. Unforchunetly we are facing small challenges in communication as each party looks to deal with the outbreak of COVID-19.
Throughout the semester we have done weekly readings that focus on what we do with our partner organizations. Starting with effective action, we looked into altruism and engagement. It was interesting to take a step back and before you even consider interacting you need to plot what is the best way to go about it. Considering your goals it is important to look at efficiency when considering action. This can be a large part of engagement since it takes more than just one view consideration.
Second we looked at the Post-truth world we currently live in. In today’s United States you cannot even take what the president says for fact. This is a large part of what we need to consider when referring to communication. It needs to be realized that for the current you need to respect all the truths in a situation. By doing so however you need to agree that through communication you will achieve a second more profound truth.
Additionally as a class we read about identifying actors. I felt as though this was a good chance to reflect on our original ANT maps we had made for our partners. We also took an opportunity to look at political views to orientate ourselves. By looking into our own profiles we can better identify our own views and how we approach issues with those sitting across the table.
Lastly the class read about the dialog surrounding how we go about making these choices. When I picture engagement I think of the new contemporary model we have practiced in class. Communicating through dialog and incorporating listening could be the way forward in common good communication efforts. With face to face work becoming increasingly important discussing the most effective forms of communication can be crucial in future educational efforts.
As we continue this semester and look to finish out our work in ENVS 295 we will also be transitioning to online classes. Our partnership group will be reaching out again to contact PCUN as we seek alternative options to face to face meetings. As we make these connections we hope to understand PCUN’s actor network better as well as form and practice maintaining a professional connection with the directors. The rest of the semester will serve as a point to continue building on the foundation we constructed the first half of class.