So far in ENVS 295 we have listened to organizations share their views on engagement during our Reconnaissance trip, begun cultivating partnerships with organizations in the local PDX area, and developed a deeper understanding of what engagement means. I look forward to learning even more about how to implement what we’ve learned in ENVS 295 into our partnerships and future projects.
At the beginning of the semester, our ENVS 295 class had the opportunity to visit various parts of Oregon and Washington to listen to various perspectives on engagement and what each organization does. We prepared for our reconnaissance trip by reading about the history, the mission statement, and goals of each organization we were going to meet to get context. One of our many stops on our trip was Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm where we heard from Barb Iverson, the president of the Oregon Farm Bureau. The importance of engagement between farmers and farm workers was highlighted in her presentation, especially working conditions for the farm workers.
Another organization we had the privilege to meet was PCUN (Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste). PCUN works to educate farm workers on their rights and provide them with resources on how to resist workplace harassment as well as a safe space for women affected by sexual harassment. It was really interesting to hear Barb’s perspective as a farmer and the PCUN presentation through the perspective as a farm worker because they highlighted the need for effective engagement. A farmers priorities are different from a farm workers priorities as well as what they think is important to reform, making it crucial for these two groups to engage.
Our mission is to empower farmworkers and working Latinx families in Oregon by building community, increasing Latinx representation in elections, and policy advocacy on both the national and state levels.”PCUN Mission
Partnership with Green Empowerment
Myself and three other group members are in the process of creating a partnership with Green Empowerment, and hope to create a project that will continue with future ENVS 295 classes. Green Empowerment is a Portland based organization that works across the globe in countries in Latin America and South East Asia. Their vision is to provide rural communities access to renewable energy, clean water, and information about good hygiene practices. Green Empowerment works with local partners to ensure that these projects are sustainable and promote economic growth for the community.
Currently due to busy times, Green Empowerment isn’t able to dedicate a lot of time to collaborate on a project with our class but we look forward to learning more about the organization’s work and receive a few answers to our questions.
The Role of Effective Action
Similar to Effective Altruism, Effective Action combines research and evidence to ensure that we are having the highest impact possible, helping the most people possible. To focus our efforts three factors are used: the issue has to be great in scale (affects many lives), highly neglected (few people are addressing the problem), and highly solvable (additional resources will do a great deal to address it). One question commonly brought up in conversations surrounding environmental engagement is, “Who gets to decide which issues take priority?” Environmental Studies is such an interdisciplinary field with many different stakeholders which lead to these hard to answer questions such as, who takes priority. I hope to learn more about how effective action is used in environmental project contexts in spring semester of ENVS 295.
Effective action is increasingly challenging in a post-truth world because if we can’t determine what facts are true, how can we take collective effective action on an issue? Technology has allowed us to share our opinions and experiences, which is positive but can be used negatively to spread untrue information. This complicates the type of engagement or action we can take to on pressing environmental issues.
Connecting the Divided Who with Dialogue
Within environmental engagement, there are three models of communication; the classical (deficit) model, the framing model, and the contemporary (dialogic) model. The classical or deficit model of communication is a type of one way communication, experts in the field are educating the less educated. The framing model is more sensitive to how people receive information differently but still follows the similar communication style of the deficit model. The contemporary or dialogic model fosters two way communication and respects peoples various strengths they bring.
Green Empowerment fosters relationships with volunteers and local partners to collaborate on projects, and I would be interested to learn from them about which communication model they use. The dialogic model is simply a sharing of experiences and can lead to mutual learning. I like this model the best because it has the potential to bring divided groups together to learn about each others experiences and create long lasting changes in somebodies point of view on an issue.