by: Grania Power
I came to CFJC at an unusual time. Jessy, the policy specialist, was moving away, and Armando, the executive director, was on medical leave. CFJC had only one staff member, Courtney, who was doing a huge amount of work, not to mention helping all five interns make the most of our internships. I experienced some of the challenges of grassroots work, which is so often understaffed and underfunded. However, along with those challenges come the rewards of the grassroots process: change that lasts long term, and truly helps the community.
At first, I was confused by how CFJC was structured, and how their work was accomplished. As time went on, I came to better understand the grassroots process, and to gain an appreciation for it. One of the highlights of my internship was getting to be a part of the Oakland Climate Action Coalition’s convening on climate resilience in the Bay Area. I witnessed organizations and individuals from the community coming together to create a resilience plan that would sustain them through the challenges of climate change. It was very inspiring to observe these people working from the ground up to create a better situation for their community.
Another highlight of the internship was a training which Courtney led for the interns, in which we practiced storytelling and leadership skills. It was a great opportunity to talk to people who shared my passions for environmental and social justice, and to understand the different life experiences that led us to the same work.
I am leaving CFJC with a lot of ideas about how to apply my education in Environmental Studies to create positive changes in the world. The experience in organizing and administrative work that I’ve gained at CFJC will make me more effective as a student organizer on my campus next year. More generally, I believe that the growth I have experienced at CFJC will be valuable to me as I find ways to integrate long-term, sustained activism into my life, growing my own passion, drive, and work from the ground up.