Hello all, I can’t believe the time has come to say farewell! Soon I will be leaving for a new adventure living and working in Washington State. I’d like to start by thanking everyone who has shown me kindness, and educated & empowered me in many ways while I have worked as the Community Outreach Coordinator here at JCWC! It makes my heart happy thinking back on the many stories people have shared with me. We’ve also written some incredible new stories together. The dedication you see from JCWC volunteers, communities, staff and board is inspiring and brings me hope.
I am hopeful for a future Johnson Creek shaded by mature trees, for biodiverse wildlife communities that are just as safe living at the headwaters as they are at the Willamette confluence, and for a free-flowing stream that protects the salmon populations that sustain our very lives! I’m hopeful for a united and inclusive population of watershed residents, informed and engaged by the many organizations protecting the natural areas we all love. And, I’m hopeful that my contribution to this legacy of work has been has been done in a good way. Do you all remember when we pulled over 5 TONS of trash from the creek?! Do you remember strapping on waders to count beaver dams, and cleaning off our shovels after a day of planting at the park? I’ll remember these things fondly for the rest of my life, and I plan to continue on as a JCWC volunteer if I do find myself back in the Portland area in the future.
The environmental sector is on an exciting brink of becoming more inclusive and equitable in their practices. Working to facilitate this shift has been bittersweet, much like this goodbye. People tasked with diversity, equity, and inclusion in their employment face so many challenges, and many of them have gracefully and courageously been making positive impact for years now in the Greater PDX environmental scene! To the leaders and of the environmental sector: protect your DEI workers, BIPOC, and femme employees. Be proactive about it and have processes in place to ensure they can feel happy and safe in their positions before they come on board. Listen to them, read between the lines. Compensate them generously for the emotional labor this work requires, and humble yourself when they share stories of gender or racial bias that they may be experiencing in their work. Starting the conversation, making a well-intentioned equity plan, and hiring one new person to do the work are small (but necessary) places to start. Recognize, however, when the time comes to walk your talk- even if it means difficult decisions or staff/board changes. Again, I experienced tremendous growth, education, and FUN in my position with JCWC! If I were to omit the lessons I’m sharing here, however, I believe it would be a disservice to the community.
I’m so thankful for this experience, the new friends & colleagues and the many opportunities I was given. And, of course, I’m excited and nervous to see what the future holds! Please feel welcome to reach out in the future. I know the next Outreach Coordinator here will be lucky to inherit some stellar programs, like Community Science and Bilingual Nature, and the tremendous opportunity to bring communities together over a shared love of the Creek.
Take heart! Be brave and be well! With much love- Adrienne