This is the sustainability Community of Practice blog

Bioregional Confluence at PSU

Posted by on Apr 17, 2014 in Educational Equity, Justice System, Social Justice, Sustainability | Comments Off

We often describe where we live by arbitrary political borders. Instead we could define our home by watersheds, plants, soils, rocks, and culture. With this ecological framework, we can also explore how we relate, organize, and celebrate each other and the environment we are part of. To learn more about bioregions, join the first annual Cascadia Rising: Bioregional Confluence on Sunday April 20th at Portland State University. This gathering is “dedicated to promoting bioregional awareness, Indigenous solidarity, alternative and horizontal governance tools, and community resilience in the Pacific Northwest”. RSVP to this FREE Confluence and learn more. 

Bioregional Conference


Forest Engagement with Bark

Posted by on Apr 16, 2014 in Sustainability | Comments Off

This week I went out to the forest with the local organization Bark. They are an amazing group dedicated to preserving and protecting the Mt. Hood National Forest. My class spent time in second growth stands last cut 80 years ago and in stands that were subject to logging four years ago. The picture shows the continued impact of these practices on the landscape even after four years.


If you are looking for opportunities to engage in environmental issues Bark provides many opportunities. They are a volunteer-drive, bottom up organization and are one of many great places to continue your engagement in environmental social change work.

Continuing Engagement Paid Internships

Posted by on Feb 10, 2014 in Educational Equity, Justice System, Social Justice, Sustainability | Comments Off

We are pleased to announce one paid internship for a current PSU student and one for a PSU alumnus, these internships will support the work of University Studies’ Continuing Engagement Program. This program works to create thematic Communities of Practice that can support the continued engagement of students, alumni and community members in social change. It aims to provide additional support such as mentorship, workshops and seminars to provide ongoing support beyond the confines of a class in which one might come alive to their civic agency. You can familiarize yourself with some of the offerings of this program by reading our Resource Guide for Continuing Engagement, which is distributed to all graduating Capstone students.

As a Continuing Engagement Intern you will work with the Program Coordinator David Osborn. Your work will be oriented to supporting the programmatic aspects that have been developed. Work may include:

  • Speaking to classes about opportunities for continued engagement
  • Opening and closing off-campus workshops and speaking about continuing engagement opportunities
  • Facilitating gatherings of students and alumni to create spaces where we can support one another in our continuing engagement, find opportunities for engagement, etc.
  • Grant writing
  • Thinking through ways to improve or further develop this avenue of work
  • Etc.

We are able to provide $ 1,500 in compensation for each intern thanks to a Bringing Theory to Practice grant from the American Association of Colleges and Universities and support from the University Studies Program. Each intern is required to commit approximately 5-10 hours/week from 2/24-6/16. Some of this work will take place off-campus on weekday evenings. Throughout the internship the Coordinator will facilitate opportunities to learn about the practice of support the engagement of others in social change work.

The timeline for selecting and training interns will be as follows:

  • 2/10 Internship announcement, application period opens
  • 2/17 Application period closes, interviews scheduled
  • 2/19-2/21 Applicants interviewed
  • 2/24-26 Interns begin work with training

If you are interested in applying for this internship please fill out the following form or follow this link. If you have any questions please feel free to contact Thanks!


Winter Term Workshop Series

Posted by on Jan 27, 2014 in Educational Equity, Justice System, Social Justice, Sustainability | Comments Off

Please find below the winter term workshops that are designed to support your continuing engagement in community-based social change. These workshop build on the 27 previous workshops that were attended by some 500 students, alumni, faculty and community members.

Please share them with your friends, organizing groups, classmates, etc! They are free and open to students, alumni, faculty and the public.

We are excited to continue our collaboration with the Center for Intercultural Organizing who will be hosting all workshops at their offices at 700 N. Killingsworth in Portland.

2/12 – 6:30-8:30 – Rain Crowe

Leader-full Groups for Empowered Movements

The word leader can instantly conjure up all the inherited misuse of power within traditional hierarchical systems of governance.  It can connote automatic relationships of subordination and domination.  Or, the word and practice of leadership can be reclaimed as a model for people who abide by the saying, “with power comes responsibility”. Leaders must be possessed of certain skills that demonstrate a readiness and ability to take risks, and to act on behalf of the group that is entrusting them to do so.  What are the character associations of effective leaders? How do we cultivate fluid, strong, and collaborative leadership amongst everyone in the group?  How do we each learn or know what our natural aptitudes are, and when to employ them in certain circumstances and contexts?  How do we support earned authority in groups and not project impossible standards and expectations onto our leaders?   These questions and more will be discussed.  Voluntary group discussion and role playing will be a part of the workshop.

Facebook Event –
2/19 – 6:30-8:30 – Enlace – Jaime Trinkle, Peter Cervantes-Gautschi

Corporate Campaigning

How do we pressure unethical corporations to stop business as usual and do the right thing? How do we effectively organize against a business model is so destructive that we need to shut an entire industry down? How do we measure success in these long fights against powerful, inherently destructive commercial enterprises?  In this popular education workshop, we will discuss targets, strategies, and movement building in corporate campaigns. We will then bore down into the details of divestment campaigns, using the work of Enlace’s Private Prison Divestment campaign as a case study.

Facebook Event –

2/25 – 6:30-8:30 – Sally Eck

The Anatomy of an Interruption

Why is interrupting oppression so difficult? In this advanced workshop, the participants will have the opportunity to unpack and analyze the complicated moments of interrupting oppression. We will examine the components of an interruption, identify our own “interruptions style,” and deepen our practice in respectful community.

Facebook Event –

3/6 – 6:30-9:30 – B-Media Collective

Roots of Remix CultureDiscover the basics of remix video, the best online archives, and how to download and convert footage from the internet for your film or archival use.  Remix is a genre of transformative DIY media production whereby creators critique power structures by re-cutting and re-framing fragments of mainstream media. Discussion includes a primer on the roots of political remix video and its use in movements for social justice, the open source movement, and your rights in the digital commons.  Hands on workshop introduces the free tools necessary to download media content before the Google bots remove it, and how to convert and use it for fair use purposes.  The workshop will be led by members of B Media, a community-based video art collective that uses political remix video, documentary films, and skill-building workshops in their work for social justice.

Facebook Event –

3/11 – 6:30-8:30 – Kayse Jama

Refugee and Immigrant Solidarity

Refugee and Immigrant Solidarity is popular education workshop designed to inform community members on how they can become good allies in the struggle for immigrant and refugee rights.  Kayse Jama, an original founder of CIO, was born into a nomad family in Somalia. He left when the civil war erupted, and finally found sanctuary in Portland. From 2005 to 2007, he trained immigrant and refugee community leaders in five Western states—Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Utah and Idaho—under a prestigious New Voices Fellowship at Western States Center. He has been awarded the Skidmore Prize for outstanding young nonprofit professionals (2007), the Oregon Immigrant Achievement Award from Oregon chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (2008), and the 2009 Lowenstein Trust Award, which is presented yearly to “that person who demonstrated the greatest contribution to assisting the poor and underprivileged in Portland,” and the 2012 Portland Peace Prize.

Facebook Event –


Fall 2013 Social Change Workshops!

Posted by on Oct 30, 2013 in Educational Equity, Justice System, Social Justice, Sustainability | Comments Off

Please find below the fall term workshops that we offer as part of our work to support the continuing engagement of students and alumni in community-based social change. These workshop build on the 21 workshops offered last year that were attended by some 400 students, alumni, faculty and community members.

Please share them with your students and with other lists as appropriate. They are free and open to students, alumni, faculty and the public. In the past instructors have offered extra credit or otherwise integrated some of these workshop into their curriculum if there was a good fit.

We’re excited to be collaborating with the Center for Intercultural Organizing, who will also be sharing the offerings with the groups they work with. All off-campus workshops will be at their offices on N. Killingsworth.


Tuesday 10/29 – 6:30-8:30PM

Fundamentals of Community Organizing

Facilitated by Abigail Singer

Center for Intercultural Organizing – 700 N. Killingsworth Street
Do you want to get your community organized to take on an oppressive boss, a neighborhood polluter, or some other force of oppression? Are you interested in starting a community garden? Wondering how to start a group, keep it together, and create a healthy, collaborative and inspired process for realizing your collective vision? This workshop will go over the basics of how to start a campaign or community organization, identify your goals and strategy, and make a plan that is both realistic and also addresses the root causes of issues in our communities. Folks are welcome to bring specific questions or issues that you may be grappling with.

Invite your friends on Facebook! –
Though not required RSVPs help us know how many to expect and will help us prep the space – RSVP here!



Thursday 11/7 – 4:00-5:50 PM

Why Should I Care? Stories for Social Change

Facilitated by Kari Koch

Portland State University – Cramer Hall 225
Building towards social change is not about finding the most compelling statistic or fact. It’s about understanding what people are experiencing and telling a story that connects issues with actions, vision for change, and a plan to win. Stories move people and make social change possible. In this workshop we will learn about constructing narratives and stories around campaigns, events, and actions using our own personal experiences.

Invite your friends on Facebook! –

Though not required RSVPs help us know how many to expect and will help us prep the space – RSVP here!


Thursday 11/14 – 6:30-8:30 PM

Developing and Sustaining A Global Perspective through Solidarity and Collaboration: Independent Hip Hop, Cultural Activism and African Solidarity
Facilitated by Mic Crenshaw
Center for Intercultural Organizing – 700 N. Killingsworth Street
Mic Crenshaw is a socially conscious emcee, a social justice activist and an educator. Crenshaw’s work combines elements of independent Hip Hop, popular education, community organizing and direct action under the umbrella of cultural activism. Through Hip Hop Culture which is global Crenshaw has established links with cultural activist across the continent of Africa.

How does African Hip Hop relate tour our community? Why work on social justice issues in African countries when we have our own issues here? Come learn about efforts to build and sustain a computer center in Burundi Central Africa, and radical Hip Hop Collectives in Zimbabwe and South Africa and current efforts to link them to local classrooms and communities. Learn about the Afrikan Hip Hop Caravan project and the work that the Obo Addy Legacy Project is doing in schools locally.

In this workshop we will sharpen our perspective on global links between our communities and cultures within the current economic context. There will be a short lecture, performance, multi media presentation and most importantly dialogue.
Invite your friends on Facebook! –

Though not required RSVPs help us know how many to expect and will help us prep the space – RSVP here!

Tuesday 11/19 – 4:00-5:50 PM

Finding Ourselves In Charge: Collective Leadership and What We Need to Know to Build Progressive Movement in the Pacific Northwest

Facilitated by Dianne Riley

Portland State University – Multicultural Center (Smith Memorial Union 228)

Turmoil among elected leaders in the nation’s capitol have eroded confidence within an already alienated and distrustful public. After 30 years of downsizing government, is it finally small enough to drown in Grover Norquist’s proverbial bathtub? And then there’s the banking industry… and Corporations personified …and international invasion of privacy, global corruption and on-going financial instability…

But maybe all the chaos in Washington and everywhere else is a sign of something other than chaos… maybe something bigger is happening… This workshop will map the political terrain and times for those of us living in the Pacific Northwest right now. We will place ourselves in the context of large scale trends. We will do this with the purpose of suggesting that all we have to do is read the signs and we will see that a new Progressive era is already at hand and we are already in charge of creating something better.

Invite your friends on Facebook! -

Though not required RSVPs help us know how many to expect and will help us prep the space – RSVP here!


Tuesday 11/26 – 6:30-8:30 PM

Interrupting Oppression in Our Everyday Lives

Facilitated by Sally Eck
Center for Intercultural Organizing – 700 N. Killingsworth Street
In this workshop, we will discuss and, more importantly, practice the art of engaging in productive dialogue about the experience of oppression in our daily lives.  Learn strategies and build community to recognized and raise our collective consciousness about the detrimental effects of microaggressions and co-create hope toward positive social change.

Invite your friends on Facebook! –

Though not required RSVPs help us know how many to expect and will help us prep the space – RSVP here!

Tuesday 12/3 – 6:30-8:30 PM

Conflict Transformation for Resilient Organizing

Facilitated by Rain Crowe
Center for Intercultural Organizing – 700 N. Killingsworth Street

Conflict is inevitable, especially within groups of people coming together with different value systems, personal, and organizing cultures. Conflict can be an opportunity to grow communication skills, group rapport and trust, and deepen our commitment to the shared work. Or, it can be a painful, individual or group experience that ultimately dissolves the working relationships and impacts the efficacy or functionality of the shared work or the group itself. How does a group consciously choose the path of the former? In this workshop we’ll use a restorative justice framework to explore and discuss how conflict within a group can be anticipated, contained, and transformed.  We’ll look at some common roots of group conflict including abuse or misuse of power, the lack of a strong intact pre-existing group relationships, horizontal oppression, basic communication breakdown, lack of tools, or inherited cultural shame about being involved with conflict. I’ll offer some strategies for engaging the inevitability of conflict in groups before it begins to happen, as well as some clear basic tools for engaging it when it arises. Voluntary pairs work, whole group discussion, and role playing may all be part of this workshop based on the desire of the attendees.
Invite your friends on Facebook! –

Though not required RSVPs help us know how many to expect and will help us prep the space – RSVP here!


Eco-Defense: The Forest Needs YOU!

Posted by on Jun 18, 2013 in Social Justice, Sustainability | Comments Off

In our quest to interview a figure from within the eco-defense movement, we were fortunate enough to secure an hour with Matthew Bristow, the Canvass Director at Bark. For those not yet in the know, Bark is the local group here in Portland, Oregon, that has been diligently protecting Mt. Hood National Forest for the last fourteen years. Included amongst Bark’s many victories, one can find the defeat of the Palomar Liquid Natural Gas Pipeline, as well as some 17,000 acres of cancelled timber sales. As the brave soul tasked with organizing the canvassing team that represents Bark, both on city sidewalks and front porches, to the public, Matthew could not be better suited to answer questions pertaining to Bark’s work and the environmental movement. So on a fine June day, we gathered at a cafe across the street from Bark’s office in SE Portland, and sat down with Matthew to discuss both how he became involved in environmentalism, as well as Bark’s role within the movement itself.

One of the most striking and inspiring points which Matthew made, emerged during his discussion of how he came to work at Bark. For many people, the phrase “environmental activism” either conjures the image of a recycling bin, or a graphic instant replay of the Ewok battle from Star Wars, complete with anarchistic, machine-sabotaging, tree-dwellers, swinging from vines and screaming, “Yipcha!” at their enemies. Fortunately, as Matthew reassured us, there are as many ways to get involved in protecting the environment as there are people to participate in its defense, and that, with all due respect to the noble practices of recycling and vine-swinging (i.e. direct action), not all of them involve rummaging through trash bins, getting arrested, or experiencing the natural aromatherapy of months on end without a shower.

Matthew did, of course, mention recycling, but he also went on to explain that the best and easiest thing that anyone can do is to simply “get involved on any level,” big or small, with existing issues and organizations—whether in an office or swinging from a vine in the forest. When it comes to tactics, “all of the above” serve their purpose, Matthew went on to explain, and like Golem in the Lord of the Rings, even the most misdirected, and seemingly odious visage can wind up making an enormous difference in unexpected ways.


But of course, one need not be a decrepit Slave of Darkness in severe need of dental surgery to help rid the Realm of evil, so to speak—there is as much or more to do for the Gamgees and Bagginses of the world as there are for the Golems and Boromirs, rest assured. Specifically, Matthew encouraged those interested in environmental activism to find a way to utilize their own unique skills and aptitudes in any way they can—in short, “Whatever you can do, there is a need.” Whether you’re more comfortable “In the forest or in the cities, in a radical group or in a more ‘main-stream’ atmosphere, find a place where you feel comfortable and can do your best.” Such efforts need not be merely on a volunteer basis either, as Matthew himself may evince, but rather can become a means of employment and livelihood, working with non-profit groups to protect our natural resources and human rights (amongst which clean water and a healthy environment must surely be counted).


The key step, it would seem, is for people to become aware of the problems we face, and to find ways to participate in the creation of positive solutions. It is therefore up to each one of us to encourage, to inform, and to inspire one another, that we may strive together toward the greatest potential for ourselves, our communities, and our world. Opportunities are everywhere, and it only takes a moment to find them.


We would like to thank Matthew Bristow, Bark, Portland State University, and professor David Osborn for this unique opportunity to explore social change and to share our findings with others.

Community Outreach Project: Rewild Portland

Posted by on Jun 18, 2013 in Sustainability | Comments Off

Rewild Portland is a local non-profit that holds workshops, community building events, and art shows, and participates in ecological restoration. Their goal as an organization is “to provide a full-spectrum model of education and implementation, from students who come to a single introductory course, to partners of a collective using regenerative design land management principles to live off the land together.”

Their guiding principles add a commentary against consumable education and toward an approach to learning that encourages unstructured time, or ‘free play’ in nature. The list of activities and workshops include: plant identification, tracking, wild foods, myth and storytelling, flint knapping, basketry, pottery, depaving, habitat restoration, animal processing, and others in ‘skillshare’ activities. I learned about Rewild Portland from a previous flint knapping instructor that taught the class with stones he had harvested in eastern Oregon and used tools that he had made himself.
For more information visit their website:


Tryon Creek and Sauvie Island; Different Contexts, Similar Results

Posted by on Jun 18, 2013 in Educational Equity, Social Justice, Sustainability | Comments Off

Similar to Celine’s recent post, students in my capstone “Outdoor and Environmental Education” had the opportunity to read and reflect on posts submitted by students in her “Hunger in the City” capstone on Sauvie Island. Both capstones engage elementary students on field trips into the great outdoors, but with different focal points.

Despite the different areas of focus, we observed many connections among the take away lessons from these experiences.  In both classes hands-on, field based education became more than a fun learning experience.  This type of education began being viewed as transformative in that it allows students the opportunity to take control of their learning and to solve problems without waiting for an “authority” to tell them the correct answer or course of action.  Moreover, these kinds of experiences create a platform for open and honest communication among children and adults from a diversity of backgrounds.

Together, the ability to solve problems and communicate effectively provides children with the background to become successful leaders for social change.  If these simple observations can transcend the specific outdoor contexts of farm and forest, then how do we facilitate this type of education on a regular basis?  What other observations will we be able to make as this type of education becomes more prominent?  And how can we as citizens continue to support these experiences throughout our lives?

Neighborhood Cleanup

Posted by on Jun 11, 2013 in Sustainability | Comments Off

I chose to participate in my neighborhood cleanup, which is a great way to get involved and to actively meet those around you. This was considered the Cully neighborhood, but encompassed Beaumont Village as well and I discovered this event just from signs posted around poles in the neighborhood. Participants included folks from local business and churches, but mostly consisted of neighbors. This was a great activity, because it shocked me how much litter I did in fact find. There are many businesses on Fremont, and people seem to use the grass areas as a trashcan and unfortunately there was a huge number of cigarette butts. It was interesting to see people from north and south of Fremont and the variation in socioeconomic status that brought, even with such a short distance between all. It is not a huge gap, but I did see folks interacting that I really don’t think would have otherwise. There were also a lot of families participating and it was great to see a spark in children of awareness and the need for sustainability; and see them excited to help the neighborhood while having fun with their families and other friends.

Green Mountain Energy & PGE Partnership

Posted by on Jun 10, 2013 in Sustainability | Comments Off

Green Mountain Energy was founded in 1997 with the mission to change the way power is made.  From electricity products made using clean, renewable sources like wind to carbon offset products that help neutralize carbon emissions, every single product the company offers has an environmental benefit.  Green Mountain is the leading competitive retail electricity provider in the nation that’s dedicated to cleaner energy.  Since the company’s inception, they have helped their customers avoid more than 19.4 billion pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.

They have partnered with Portland General Electric (PGE) to offer PGE customers two different renewable energy options.  If anyone is interested in these options, I highly encourage you to check them out.


PGE and Portland State University have a long-term strategic partnership to promote the economic, environmental, and social sustainability of our area.