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So Long, But Not Goodbye

For those of you who were lucky enough to attend our wonderful “Party in the Park” fundraiser, you will already know this news. I am stepping down from my position at CCJ to attend graduate school this fall. At the end of a summer jam-packed full of fun CCJ community events, I am reflecting on the growth in myself and CCJ these past few years. I learned many lessons during this time, more than can fit in this blog, but a few include our resilience, the importance of connection and care, and the nuance of working as a progressive organization in our community.

In 2019, I joined the team as a bright-eyed intern, eager to make a difference in the place I call home. I also worked part-time as an investigative journalist focusing on workers’ rights and the health impacts of the oil and gas industry. In 2020, I was brought on full-time as Outreach Coordinator. I was behind the scenes (and behind the camera!) planning and running most of our events, writing our newsletter, running our social media, and more, as we all wear many hats at CCJ. During this time, we faced intersecting health, economic, political, and ecological crises. Our team switched to primarily remote work and virtual events for two years, all while managing to connect with our community, stay strong as a team, and grow our staff. During my time, I helped to organize numerous events, including CCJ’s first Greene County Solar Festival, a five-part Environmental Justice Film Series, a Seed Swap, an outdoor movie night in Firefly Gardens, and many monthly community meetings! It was amazing to see that even during the tough times we have faced these past few years, CCJ and our members adapted to the changing times and needs – all while continuing to grow!

I was grateful to be a part of some profound trainings including the anti-racist organizer training of the Anne Braden Program from Catalyst Collective, Rural Cinema by Working Films, and the Digital Campaigning Certificate Training by Social Movement Technologies. I was also grateful to serve in the Alliance for Appalachia, connecting grassroots groups like ours across the region to advocate for our common goals.

I hope we were able to meet either virtually or in person over the past few years. I’m grateful to have connected with each and every one of you. Our power lies in our connections and care for one another. My biggest takeaway from the past few years is that connection and community are truly the antidotes in a world so fearful and divided. We will only begin to work through these challenges when we find common ground and trust in one another. And – of course – we need to address the inequality and greed at the root of so many of our issues. A better world will be focused on regeneration, not extraction.

I aim to apply what I’ve learned in my work here to study “just transitions” in communities like ours across the world. While each community is unique, I find it endlessly fascinating that we also face many common threats and that we can learn from one another. Wherever I am, I will advocate for our home in Southwestern Pennsylvania. It was an honor to serve my community these past few years. It’s only “so long,” not goodbye!

If you would like to contact me professionally, don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of my CCJ team members so we can connect.

Author

  • In 2018, Kristen graduated from Allegheny College with a degree in Environmental Studies and a passion to go back to the community where she grew up to make a positive impact. She joined the team in the summer of 2019 as an intern and was promoted to Outreach Coordinator in the summer of 2020. Kristen's family has lived in Washington and Greene Counties for generations. Her great-grandparents were coal miners and steel workers in Washington County. She has a passion for writing, storytelling, and helping to build community in the region she calls home. In her free time, you'll find Kristen canoeing local rivers, gardening, and spending time with her miniature schnauzer puppy named Karl. Kristen can be reached at 724-229-3550 x4.

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