A recent partnership between Lewis & Clark and a non-governmental organization (NGO) in downtown Portland called Green Empowerment has opened up many exciting opportunities for LC students interested in sustainability.
Economics major Ary Hashim ’20 sits on the associate board for Green Empowerment, which enabled him to foster the partnership with the help of LC’s Senior Director of Sustainability & Communications Amy Dvorak in spring 2019. The first opportunity for LC students to take advantage of this partnership was on Oct. 18 when LC students were given free tickets to attend Green Empowerment’s Passport to Empowerment event in downtown Portland.
The event allowed LC students to network with professionals who have a passion for sustainability. The students represented a wide range of majors, minors and organizations, including international affairs, environmental studies, Hispanic studies, psychology, entrepreneurship and Associated Students of Lewis & Clark.
“Everyone I talked to was from a different field, but they were all focused on sustainability,” Daniel Marsan ’20, a biochemistry and molecular biology major who attended the event, said. It was really inspiring and made me realize that sustainability should always be a concern, no matter what field you’re in.”
Green Empowerment facilitates the creation of renewable energy systems in collaboration with communities in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Peru, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Malaysia and Borneo. The goal of this partnership is to give LC students hands-on experience with NGO work.
“The partnership will create a broader network for students and expose them to NGOs (in Portland),” Hashim said. “We’ve got some internship opportunities that are looking very promising, but the biggest impact a student can have through the partnership is to take the position I am in now on the associate board.”
When Hashim graduates, his position on the associate board will open up. The board is the youth-centered arm of Green Empowerment, and its purpose is to empower young people to get into strategic positions where they can begin doing meaningful work in sustainability. This position has enabled Hashim to network with young professionals in sustainability, organize events and work on strategic partnerships.
While she was speaking with students during the event, Executive Director of Green Empowerment Andrea Johnson said that another goal of the partnership is to work with LC overseas programs to incorporate certain Green Empowerment projects into existing programs. This would be a new type of partnership for LC overseas programs and both LC students and Green Empowerment would stand to benefit.
“That would be exciting for Green Empowerment because Lewis & Clark is a sustainability-focused school,” Johnson said.
Hashim explained why Green Empowerment is a valuable resource to students interested in sustainability work.
“Their staff and volunteers come from a wide range of industries which is what makes this organization powerful and why it resonates with LC,” Hahsim said. “It’s multidisciplinary, systems thinking, and it’s a practical vehicle for the theory that LC teaches its students.”
Specifically, Green Empowerment specializes in facilitating renewable energy systems with underprivileged communities, so they make sure that all of the resources and power needed to maintain the energy systems are sustainable. Green Empowerment can teach LC students about their microhydro electricity and hygiene projects, sourcing materials, implementing and maintaining systems through partnerships with local communities and how to conduct environmental impact analyses.
The next joint LC and Green Empowerment event will be in November. Any student interested in taking advantage of this partnership can get in touch with Dvorak or Hashim directly.