Saturday, March 14, 2009


Last semester was really uninspiring for me. I disliked all my classes not because the professors were bad, but because they were not very interesting, or engaging for that matter. Maybe I have too high of an expectation for certain subject matters, but I doubt it. Statistical methods just does not stimulate me in any way. At least this semester I can look forward to one of my classes, which keeps me a little more sane now that I'm juggling full time enrollment and two internships.

My Environmental Justice course is great because it's different from the rest of the classes here, mostly due in part to the fact that it is mostly lecture based, with an academic flair. I'm sure you are wondering why I would enjoy a class like this that is not really preparing me for the mundane daily work routine. Well, to be honest, I came to the conclusion last semester that I enjoy being involved with people and their issues. Even though my internship with the County of Alameda doesn't have me work with people in the area on a regular basis, I focus on social issues that impact the community at large. That's better than sitting at a desk all day analyzing staff reports and grant proposals, or coordinating graphics and board meetings. If I can focus on social issues affecting a community, then by golly, I'm content. Anyway, the discipline of planning has always taken a fairly straight-edge approach to dealing with issues in a city, but rarely did this discipline actually focus on the needs and wants of people, and the impacts project developments have on their lives. It was not until recently that the idea and concept of incorporating people into the development projects started occurring.

Envrionmental Justice is similar to Social Justice, except that in the case of Environmental Justice, there is the intention of locating harmful/hazardous projects next to a minority community. And through my internship, we focus on the issue of equity, and equitable distribution of services. It ties up rather nicely, relating to issues of access to fresh produce, walkability in the community, services like medical clinics, and location of schools. Access to transportation. Things like that.

Anyway, I love my class this semester. I think I found my niche after all these years of searching. I've known now for the longest time that I wanted to be involved with people, and the environment, I just didn't know what. I have also known that working for a non-profit group would probably make me jump for joy, and my professor has already indicated that if I ever want to be in contact with someone from Communities for a Better Environment, he could help me out. I do, and in fact, I want to intern with this group. And my supervisor at my internship also indicated that he could help me out as well.

Anyway, that's about it for now. I also wanted to mention that my supervisor at the Public Health Department is super nice and great to work with. Unlike my old position down in Los Angeles, I have a boss that is willing to help me out. On Friday, I was floored because he asked me if I wanted to meet with some Oakland city planners, and if so, he could arrange for a meeting this week. What a fantastic, nice, wonderful person! My problem is that I do not reach out for help or networking because I'm so intimidated by the business world. Oh well, this is a great journey for me.

By the way, the cities of Long Beach and Oakland, according to Wikipedia (har har, such a reliable source) are the most diverse cities in the United States. Crazy, huh?

No comments: