It has been hard trying to find where I stand at the BTA. I’m in a new environment. This is my first time working in a office. I say good morning to some people and they say little back.
These past few week have changed me in ways I didn’t expect to be changed. The work itself is nothing I can’t handle; I’ve been doing light edits to letters and folding and stuffing a lot of envelopes. These tasked have not been difficult. The difficult thing has been been finding my place and learning where I stand. These past weeks I have been doing random tasks without any direct purposes.
This is so different from school where everything is laid out and the direction is stated at the beginning of every class.
I have been doing a lot of reflecting, as a result of this internship. I returned to PCC, for the first time since I graduated from there 3 years ago. I have been reflecting a lot about where I come from, or better said, what has brought me to this point.
The BTA internship has introduced me to a lot of new situations and experiences. It has been things I have imagined I would be doing in the past. They are things I deeply wanted when I was just starting school, like: finding an internship, working in an office and working to be a young professional. I’m at a place where I wanted to be when I started and now that I’m here, I feel somewhat lost. But not in a bad way. In a way that gives me hope and a new appreciation for myself and my life.
I returned to PCC to study and write the blog that I have had such a hard time doing. It is a cloudy warm spring day. The kind of day you could not tell if it was morning or night by looking up at the gray covered sky. I’m here and I feel reflective. I feel inspired. I feel a self in haven't felt in some time, almost like since I left PCC. When I left there were new building being constructed. I left with a spirit of new beginnings. It is a trip to be writing in those builds that I could only imagined what they could be like, so many years ago. It is a trip to be on my to be so close to the end of my undergraduate career. I feel a healing upon me. I feel a connectedness I have not felt in a while.
All of this comes back to the BTA. The BTA represents the next chapter. The next form of dreams and possibilities. One door closes and the other opens. It sound corny, but I really feel it. I really see it. But just cus the door is closed, it doesn't mean I can’t go back and pull things, memories and experiences from it. They are still there. I just need to be willing to take the steps to get there. I need to be willing to let myself go back and understand that I won’t get lost if I do. I need to pull from those past experiences because they are so beautiful; so meaningful. I am very happy I came back. I am very happy to move forward.
Today is also the day my brother is having his first son. This is a joyous day. His life brings possibility to us. It bring wonder and visions to the future. It brings responsibility and growth. It brings love. This is the blessings that young little Kyol James Robinson brings to us (wow this is the first time I have wrote his name. He is really real now). The future is real now.
Today I helped out at the first Sunday Parkways of the season. It was a standard tabling event besides the rain. It was very wet, but people still came out.
We had a joint table with East Portland Action Plan (EPAP), because Elizabeth Cabral our Equity Manager, also works with them. She’s half her time at the BTA and the other half with EPAP. I learned about their committee and mission. They were formed to improve living condition and reduce displacement in east Portland.
I was talking to with one of the committee members, a letter to middle aged man, work in mechanics of some sort, and had a hint of despair to him. He said something that stood out to me; it was that blue collar work was real and the further you getting into higher education and institutions the less real it gets. In the moment I kinda nodded my head and just listened. I hadn’t hear that point of view in sometime. Then, he disappeared and was supposed help break down our set up and give Eilzabeth a ride back to the office. He seemed kinda jaded. Lucky, I was there and had a car to take her back to the office.
Best part of the day was when I got to ride the Nike bikeshare bikes for the first time. They had a display, and Cole, the other intern at the BTA, was running that booth. They ride very smooth but are pretty heavy.
This week we did a commuter station at the circle in Ladds Addition. A commuter station is where we pass out food and snacks to people riding their bikes. We passed out information about the BTA and tried to get people signed up. It was a fun day. We started at the BTA office. We loaded up the trailer on Cole's bike and we road to the location. There was four of us, the two interns including myself and Amanda. We were a convoy of bikers rolling through the street of Downtown. I kept my eyes on Cole's trailer to make sure nothing dropped off. We made it safely to our location without anything dropping, then began to unpack. While we were setting up, we heard some complaints from of the residents of the neighborhood. There had been some complaints about bikers not stopping at the stop sign at SE Ladd and where the circle begins. Some of the older residents had had some confrontation with some cyclists and they were voicing their frustration with us. After we were all set up, I was talking to a younger cyclist (he must of been in this early 20s) about the same issue of cycling not stopping at the stop sign 🛑 and he was in the opposite side of the argument. He had heard of or knew people who had gotten ticked by police 👮 . He was telling me that it was unfair, the cops just posting up waiting for cyclists to not stop when most people do rolling stop. He said it was messed up giving poor kids who are trying to do good by riding their bikes tickets.
All in all, it was a good day. The sun was shining. I got to bond with the other BTA interns and staff and talk with people in the community.
At times, there isn’t much for me to do in the office. Sometimes I’m left with nothing to do and no directions. So, I write my blog and reflect.
What is school? What has it all been for? Is it remembering the facts, the quotes, the equations. Is it to get the highest number on the test. Is it to be smart; to be better than the other gal. Is it to be confident in your words or to doubt the beliefs you were raised on. Is it to grow; to progress. Was it all for money. Is it for a better life. Is the better life just for you? Is it for conformability to be able to stand on your own; to understand what goes into the society you live for; to understand system after system, layer after layer. Is it for happiness? Is it to be able to communicate your ideas efficiently. Is it to present yourself orderly. Is it to find yourself; to become an adult? Is it to experiment and push the boundaries. Is it all of it above and the things that fall between the cracks. Is it what you make of it; is it what they can make out of you?
This week at the internship I started a project. Last week, Kate sat me down and layed out what the summer is going to look like for us. We are planning a annual fundraiser. Alice is the name of it. I’m going to gather things to auction off. It will involve outreach to businesses.
I was really happy after the meeting. A direction of the future of my work at the BTA was something that was really lacking; something that was really bothering me. I was relieved. I was inspired. The past month, I felt like I was in limbo. I felt I had not direction. I was making me a little crazy.
I feel better now. I feel more confident. This past week I got to research restaurants for an auction item. It is going to be a package of twelve $50 to $100 gift cards to Portland’s top restaurants. I made an excel sheet with contact info that will be used to reach out and try to get a donation or discounted rate.
This week I also sat in on another staff meeting and I feel more and more a part of the team. They are really cool people who are dedicated to their work; dedicated to biking and making biking better, safer and more enjoyable for everyone. I got some props for helping out at the Portland parkway event. That felt nice. I really want to be able to relax, feel comfortable and have fun while I'm there.
Fundraising has been a learning experience. It is difficult asking people for free stuff. I think the best way to get better at it is through practice.
When asking for donations, I feel in between old and new Portland. By doing research on local restaurant, I have discovered a bunch on new restaurant that have recently opened in the past year. While asking for donations, the people who say "yes" or seem interested get it. They get what it takes to make things happen in the city. I'm starting to see a trend in newer restaurants. They don't seem to show interest in donating.
It's hard to tell what a stranger on the phone is thinking. Sometimes I only have a seconds of their attention. Sometime I talk to people who just don't want anything to do with me. Sometimes I talk to people who are super interested. Maybe they where just in a good mood. Maybe they just had a good shift. Maybe it was pay day. All I can say is it's hard to tell. It's hard to predict.
What I have learned is no matter what you got to put yourself out there.
It always feels good hearing "yes" to a donation. It can make my day. I'm filled with joy when someone says "yes".
It got pretty Dreadful hearing "no" so much.
At my lunches I walk through the North Park Blocks, I see the city at work. It felt like I was in high school again. I see people from the office walking back from their lunch. I would see clicks of females from other offices talking while they walk the paths of the park. This was something I never noticed in the past. I remember this park to be a place where homeless hung out and had their lunch. Those days are gone with the activation of Old Town / Chinatown and the north park blocks. It feels like the city's at work.
"PDX AT WORK"
I think this every time I'm on my lunch in the park blocks.
This is also inspired by the new office co-op or whatever in the old federal emigration building "We Work".
I walked in today to the surprise of a $45,000 donation from mystery British donor. It was such a surprise. It was such a good feeling seeing Brit, Lauran and Kate's excitement. Stress levels have been high. We are weeks away from the fundraiser, giving it our all for last minute donations and preparations.
They are so excited about the donation, they rang a bell and made jokes. One joke was about waiting for the check to clear after making a bunch of swanky purchases. They were guessing where it came from and was thinking maybe someone past away and the BTA was in their will.
It ended up being a fraud. Everyone got sad and pissed. Who would do something like this? We did some researcher, and it ended up being some British con-artist who has scammed other non-profits.
This is kind of funny. I've been so concentrated on the restaurant raffle that I just realized that this whole time we have been planning a big party.
It's not that I didn't see it coming. It's that we are so close to the end, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. And it's a party. Must of my work has been done not really knowing what the end is going to look like.
Today, I'm organizing all the donations for the Alice fundraiser. I'm seeing donations from places I contacted months ago. I recall feeling discouraged making "the ask" for some of these places and not hearing back. I thought they didn't donate. It's nice to see that they did. It's so nice to see that the calls and emails resulted in something.
It was hectic leading up to the fundraiser, but we all pulled together and made it happen.