Now that we are coming to the close of the week, we wish to share what has impacted us the most on this Destination trip:
My week flew by... Before I knew it we were packing up for the ride home. I want to take time right off the bat to say how thankful I am to the Destination program for giving me this opportunity and allowing me to be part of this experience. I would agree that the services we gave to the community are very important and changed me forever as a young sustainable planner, (stream restoration, Rebuilding Center volunteer), but I have had an experience of another kind that has impacted me more than the sustainable efforts we made this week. What other experience could this possible be you may ask? Well, I have made life long friends this week and I can't explain how much the connection between me and my fellow trip members has expanded and grown in such a short time. I am so excited to have 10 new life friends that can share the same experiences and values, that I took out of this trip, with all the other people around them. I would never trade this experience for anything in the world!! : )
"Without friends no one would choose to live, though he had all other goods."
Being on this trip the biggest impact has been being around the high energy atmosphere and seeing how a work place can really thrive when the workers are extremely passionate about their jobs. And they not only passionate and care about getting their task done, but they also go out of their way to make everyone feel appreciated and welcomed when coming into The Rebuilding Center no matter what their background is. This experience has affected me tremendously and I'm grateful for all the memories made and knowledge gained.
What has impacted me the most on this trip is learning about all the different sustainability options. It is amazing how many can be brought back to River Falls. It was also impressive seeing how passionate people are about being environmentally friendly. The workers at The Rebuilding Center were so optimistic about being sustainable while enjoying their job. At the beginning of this trip I was not aware of the many options we have to be sustainable but now I can confidently say I am more informed.
"Building better communities, with building materials." This is a saying that we heard often during our service trip and has impacted me the most. The meaning behind this saying is that in order to make a difference in society, we must start by creating relationships with the people around us. As a volunteer in The Rebuilding Center, we heard story after story of how the communities in Portland have become more sustainable by the people first getting to know their neighbors, which led to a stronger connection to their community, which ultimately propelled the green movement. At our second site, working with SOLV, the organization invited community members to get involved by with the restoration projects or simply walking the trails. Having a connection to the people and the area, the community supported the watershed projects. Though sustainability is our key focus, a larger lesson learned on our service trip and that has impacted me, was the message to build strong relations to create social change.
Meaning and perspective can be derived from many moments in our lives. I've been on three Destination trips and although I've learned a lot about service from my previous two trips, this trip was the most impactful. As I reflect on the last seven days, I realize that the moments I have experienced on this trip create a beautiful mosaic. Through the organizations, The Rebuilding Center and SOLV, I have learned the true meaning of sustainability. I've learned that to be sustainable you must build community, maintain the environment, foster growth, ethically develop, and create opportunities. When you are truly sustainable, you care about the people, the place, and the things, not just about the profit. Beyond the intellectual, I've found that the personal development and growth I've gained from this trip was very impactful. My trip had the right people on it, we worked with the right organizations, and we stayed in the right hostel, everything has been so righteous!! Through constant team work and humorous outbursts my fellow Destinators and I have become a tight knit group of volunteer extremists taking on any task given to us. At the end of this week, I'll go into sheer panic mode, a state only die hard procrastinators can appreciate. But as I attempt to finish all the homework assignments I put off until after Spring Break, I'll remember Portland and the amazing people in my Destination group, the brilliant ideas that energize this city, the vibrant people and places we've encountered and the feeling of accomplishment I felt throughout this experience.
-Nikki Shonoiki (the non-stop comedic reliever)
I firmly believe that it is people that make the world turn, and this trip has proven me right. The ReBuilding Center and its parent organization were founded on the thought that one individual person and make a difference in another individual's life. Simply letting someone know that you know that they exist and have their own life, their own story can sometimes make all the difference. Social change is predicated on the idea that nothing happens without the willful investment of individuals working towards the benefit of as many people as possible. The people we've met this week embody this idea. Ella Rose, Rosie, Steve and Abby are change in motion. Passion for their work, their communities and their world are what make them exemplars of these ideas. More than anything, it is seeing the passion in their hearts that has influenced me.
The biggest impact I felt was the city of Portland and its community. Before I was impacted by this Oregon community, I was able to make great relationships and friends with my own group. Ricky has been an amazing team member to our group. Ricky took the tasks of driving extra long hours as well as educating our group on his previous knowledge about sustainability. He impacted me personally with his hard work ethic at all of our volunteer sites. The city of Portland's people we met were very special. They showed me how much one person can impact others. Sustainability and environmentalism is not just about preserving beautiful natural areas. There are so many things locally we can do. In Portland, people in need of building materials that can not afford them have The Rebuilding Center. The most important thing I have learned is everything is connected.
"A nation's culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people."
I think that the discussions we had that accompanied each day of work on the trip really impacted me the most. I believe this is the case because we were all learning so many new facts and taking in different experiences that by the end of the day we were all able to communicate those feelings collectively. By forming the reflection sessions we were all able to share our own individual experiences and learn how our other group members felt about the trip as well. This type of socializing is definitely a key part of the Destination trip and gives us all a chance to change our understanding of sustainability little by little each day. There were many other parts of the trip that impacted me in other ways as well, but none that touched me nearly as much in the area of sustainability as the group reflections had. This was the key topic of the trip, which initially made it the most important part of spring break to me. I feel that I now know a great deal more about how to actually be sustainable in my hometown, but I would also have liked to have touched a little bit more on the economics side of the issue. I think reflections helped cover this area a little, but I still would like to have learned more about this from the work experiences here in Portland.
The city of Portland's commitment to sustainability has made the most impact on me. Through our service with The ReBuilding Center and SOLV - we have learned that sustainability is tangible. Our work showed us that with every nail we pull or tree we plant helps make sustainability a reality. These great organizations are just two of many businesses and people that are making a difference. Sustainability is a part of the culture of this city. From public transportation to local businesses to even our hostel, the community pitches in to make sure that sustainability is a priority here. Prior to Destination, I felt as though sustainability was more ideology than a reality. Portland proves that sustainability can be a part of our everyday lives.