Environment Challenge Day
Written By: Carl Bailey, LT'14
As an LT alum, I wasn't sure what to expect when I re-visited a Challenge Day for the first time in nearly four years. But once I parked the car and made my way to the UWBG Center for Urban Horticulture, some of those old LT feelings came flooding back.
There was that slightly nervous feeling of being around other highly intelligent, capable, and opinionated people while covering topics that I don't deal with on a regular basis. And the unconscious pressure of being my most authentic self and being comfortable enough to share my life experiences with people I've only known for a few months.
Another familiar LT feeling was optimism, as the day was full of opportunities to think about how each individual can get involved in and help influence who has access to the decision-making table.
The Evolution of Challenge Days
The Challenge Day formula has changed a bit since I went through the program in 2013-14. When I was in LT, we focused all of our Challenge Days around two major projects: The Waterfront Project, and the Yesler Terrace Project.
Now, the common thread woven throughout the Challenge Days is addressing and eliminating racism. This focus enables participants to get a better understanding of the importance of policy and accountability as it relates to providing equity for as many groups of people as possible.
Challenge Day Highlights
Solve Environmental Injustice and You Solve Climate Change
Debolina Banerjee, from Puget Sound Sage, spoke in-depth about those who are most disproportionately impacted by environmental issues. "When we plan projects," she asserted, "we have to think, who bears the costs and who bears the risks?" Her concrete suggestions for policy change and solutions that benefit all people set the stage for a fruitful day.
Power Dynamics Exercise
This all-group exercise created some big "Ah Ha's" within the class. As the year winds down, more time is spent on leadership and encouraging class members to reflect on their own deepening skills. Power Dynamics demonstrated that valuable time can be wasted focusing on arbitrary rules, which are clear to some and frustratingly unclear to others. Making progress on a task requires leaders to surface unspoken "rules" in any gathering of people, helping to foster opportunities for everyone to participate.
Going to a site visit again reminded me that people really do care about the important issues of our region. Great impact occurs in lots of different areas of our community when we utilize the financial support of individuals and businesses focused on healthy environmental decision-making.
Get Involved: Call to LT Alums
As an alum, you may have appreciated getting some of your time back after LT was finished, but one of the things that drew you to this organization was wanting to figure out how to make the region a better place. Your time may be limited as you work toward new opportunities within your own organization or grow and nurture your family. But think about how you can give even a little bit of yourself in service to others and try to plug back into LT in some way. Here are a few ideas: