This semester in ENVS 295, our class has been preparing to partner with different organizations in the Portland area. The idea behind these partnerships is that our class will begin to build relationships with these organizations, and the work we do will be carried on by future ENVS classes. Since we are the first class to begin these partnerships, a lot of our work has focused on researching these groups and beginning to speak with them. The last part of the semester, we are going to be working on proposing projects to do with our partner organizations, with the hope that these projects will be implemented by future ENVS classes. My group chose to partner with the Portland Harbor Community Coalition (PHCC). The Portland Harbor Community Coalition is an organization that is working to help community members that have been impacted by the Portland Harbor Superfund Site. The coalition was formed in 2012. “PHCC’s mission is to elevate the voices of communities most impacted by pollution in the Portland Harbor Superfund site, including Native, Black/African American, immigrant and refugee, and houseless people of all backgrounds, and to ensure that impacted communities benefit from and lead the cleanup, restoration, and redevelopment of the harbor” (PHCC’s website). Based on the amazing work that the PHCC is doing and on their mission, I think it would be important to incorporate conversation into any engagement projects that Lewis and Clark does with them. Currently, my group is brainstorming possible engagement projects. One idea I had was doing a project that involved hearing the stories of people from the PHCC and the community who have been impacted by the superfund site. It’s important that the Portland community does not forget about the superfund site and the negative impacts it is having on people to this day, and storytelling is a way to connect with and share those experiences.
What the Project Will Look Like
A possible engagement project that we could do with the PHCC would be to work to interview and speak with community members that have been impacted by the superfund site, and use these interviews to help create content for the PHCC’s website. This would be a way for us to both engage with them and the broader community in an impactful way. Currently, the PHCC’s website is not being regularly updated. It takes a lot of time and energy to maintain a presence on a website and social media, and the PHCC has been focusing their energy and time on more pressing issues. Since, the PHCC is working on important projects, there is an opportunity for our environmental studies program to help them with their digital presence, while learning from them and the community.
Who Will Be There?
This engagement project would involve collaboration between Lewis and Clark College Environmental Studies students, the Portland Harbor Community Coalition, and members of the Portland community who have been impacted by the superfund site or who have been working on its cleanup.
How Will It Engage?
Storytelling is an amazing way to connect with people across differences. It would be wonderful to hear stories from people who have experienced or worked with the superfund site, because through these shared experiences people relate to each other. Lewis and Clark students could either write up or film these conversations or interviews, so that they could be posted on the Portland Harbor Community Coalition’s website. By being on the website, the stories and content could reach and engage more of the community.