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Power Dynamics, Hidden Narratives, Identity, and more

pathways to equity
gina bugiada

I’m honored to be sharing a window into my Pathways Fellowship experience here on the mortar blog.

The first two weekends in September 2018 were spent getting to know each other and taking part in a series of workshops building the foundation for solid teamwork and open perspectives. We began by establishing a common understanding around community organizing and some critical issues of social justice in the Bay Area.

Starting with these social science- and justice- based human experience sessions, we set the stage for our design work to be community-focused and human-centered.  I’m curious to see if I’ll have the opportunity to bring parts of my undergraduate political science degree to this fellowship. Of the workshops I’ve attend so far, I found Francis Calportura’s workshop especially illuminating. He helped us learn to distinguish between service organizations and empowerment organizations, and the spectrum that connects them.  Service organizations like soup kitchens meet very immediate and important needs for folks, while empowerment organizations are policy-changing groups that work on legislation to create systemic change to better meet the needs of everyone in society. Each of these types of organizations structured their work very differently and act across different timelines, but each work towards similar motivating goals and provides immense value.

The twenty-three of us broke into four teams, assigned to work with one of the four non-profit partners participating in this first fellowship year. I’m excited to be part of the team chosen to partner with the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project (WOEIP). The more I learn about the organization the more I admire co-directors Ms. Margaret Gordon and Brian Beveridge. The WOEIP has already been successful in bringing positive change and community empowerment through their work with the Maritime Air Quality Improvement Plan with the Port of Oakland and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, negotiating the Community Benefits Agreement for the Oakland Army Base redevelopment, and partnering with many academic fellows and institutions to produce Community Based Participatory Research documents that have influenced legislation and shaped environmental justice conversations across the nation. Ms. Margaret Gordon was honored by President Barack Obama as being a Champion for Change in 2013. It truly is an honor to work alongside them.

Click here to learn more about the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project.
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