OPAL is a transformative place, not just for our members but also for those who volunteer and intern with us. Haley Bosse spent ten weeks with OPAL this summer, and she loved being here. We asked Haley to share her thoughts on her time with us, and we’re proud to say Haley is a part of the OPAL family. Her story is below.
As an Oregonian and future Environmental Justice major passionate about the power of community organizing, my path seemed inevitably pointed towards OPAL. While researching organizations working on different EJ issues in Oregon, I kept being rerouted to OPAL’s website. In the midst of a brutal East Coast winter, I reached out to Huy (OPAL’s Executive Director) and Shawn (OPAL’s Community Engagement Coordinator) to see if there was any way that I could add capacity to OPAL’s work. My delight at being accepted as a summer intern is probably easy to imagine.
In some ways, the time that I have spent here feels both longer and shorter than it has actually been. While I have been home (in Oregon) for the summer, OPAL has been a political home for me unlike any that I have ever found. While I have been involved in organizing at school, I have never had the opportunity to work closely with organizers who are unflinchingly dedicated to EJ and a Just Transition, like I have at OPAL.
Every day at OPAL is a different experience. Some days the office is quiet when I slip in to do outreach to volunteers, BRU members, and people with whom we are hoping to connect. Other days the door to the packed and thrumming office opens for Organizers in Training, YEJA or BRU members, community members, members of allied organizations, volunteers, or other supporters. Some days I sent out social media outreach and data entry. Some days I sat in on workshops on organizing, movement building, storytelling, current campaigns and issues, and systems of oppression. But every day at OPAL I have had invaluable conversations about organizing, issues, advocacy, and taking action.
If in my time at OPAL you received an outreach email from OPAL about an event, training, or volunteer opportunity, it was probably from me. If you opened a program at Voices, you can be sure that either Sierra, another summer intern, or I carefully folded them while deeply considering the importance of the event. If you have attended a recent event, I might have been there in the shadows taking notes, guiding people to seats, running the slideshow, and absorbing any information that I could.
I hope and anticipate that the learning that I have done at OPAL will help me to be more effective at building community power wherever I go. I know I will remember the many conversations on strategy, framing, and intention. I know that I will continue to use the OPAL framework of Environmental Justice that centers the voices of those most affected. I know that I will never forget the thoughtful and intentional way that OPAL connects with members, volunteers, other organizers, and everyone else that constitutes the web of OPAL supporters.
Every day that I have spent with OPAL, I have been reminded of the importance of the work and dedication of everyone involved. I know that my work and energy are resources for doing good in my community and the world. I love OPAL and I know that if you volunteer or intern at OPAL, you will, too.
Are you interested in interning with OPAL? Click here, and let us know what you hope to accomplish. Our interns develop new skills, hone their strengths, and support our movement for Environmental Justice and Civil Rights.