August Gathering was a fantastic cap off to my Summer of Solutions (SoS). I arrived to this gathering confused about the purpose of SoS and my experience in Portland. Now that we’re done, I’m less confused and more resolved in my future objectives.
August Gathering began Monday in a Lutheran Church somewhere in Hartford, CT. Program leaders and volunteers from every nook and cranny of the US participated in sustainability workshops, agenda planning sessions, and urban farming tours. It was a gathering of different accents and experiences that created and shared a common vision.
What I ultimately learned from all this is that sustainability is a value I support, but it isn’t a cause I plan to actively participate in. However, I do plan to keep in touch with the friends I’ve made here and to offer what little I can to the Portland SoS program over the next year.
What really affected me here is the way we ate this week. Many of the participants who worked on farms brought with them a heap of tasty vegetables. Previous to this week, I’ve never spent one without eating meat—and vegetables have always just been an addition to my meal, never the centerpiece. Now I’m seriously considering a vegetarian diet because this week we ate like royalty. It’s nan-sense how good we ate (an inside joke, har har har), and I’m ecstatic to implement this change in my life.
The two discussions I attended and appreciated most were about how to incorporate different people into sustainability initiatives. We all agreed the lack of diversity in sustainability activism is not progressive; yet none of us had an idea of how to become effectively inclusive–it’s still a work in progress. Through discussion, I learned there are ways, difficult as they may be, to incorporate diverse groups of people and to help impacted communities. I might seek further opportunities with the Portland hub during the year.
The best part of this gathering is all the connections and friends I’ve made. I don’t know what will become of them or how they’ll be involved in my life in the future, but I’m hopeful something special will result from being involved with such an ambitious, inspiring, and brilliant group of people.
So the future is still ambiguous for me, but from this gathering, I’m certain to be involved with sustainability initiatives in some capacity in the future, to visit friends in different areas of the US, and to live a healthier, environmentally friendly lifestyle. I’d say this gathering was a success. Thanks again, Grand Aspirations!