Corpsmember Perspective: A Renewed Hope


By Washington Conservation Corps/The Corps Network AmeriCorps Member:
Mary Powell
May 26, 2016


The walk that we took that day was not a new route.  I have walked the trails at Nisqually more times than I count after serving here for seven months.  But seeing it through the eyes of the former chair of the Nisqually tribe was revealing.  I could see the refuge for what it was, for what it meant to a whole group of people. I have always enjoyed walking around and seeing the flocks of waterfowl, muskrats, deer, and the odd seal swimming up river.  I relish seeing them so content in their native habitat.  But seeing this land as part of a way of life had a profound effect on me. No longer was this land solely habitat for animals, or a playground for birders, it was home for a group of people to weave cedar into baskets and ceremonial clothing, to fish along the river to feed their families and trade with neighboring tribes.  Before me the land was transformed into something that can benefit people and animals together.

On April 7, 2016 two representatives from the Nisqually Tribe, Nano Perez and Cynthia Iyall visited three Washington Conservation Corps crews at the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge as an educational field trip to remind us how people occupied the landscape long before the refuge was designated. We began with a walking tour of the refuge.  The stories Cynthia told of the Nisqually people and how they used the land gave me goose-bumps.  She spoke of restorative properties of the Medicine Creek, and the bounty of salmon in the Nisqually River.

She told us about when relations between the tribe and settlers went sour.  As a relative of Chief Leschi’s brother, Cynthia told how much her people wanted to come to some sort of agreement with the federal government, but the government at the time had no such intentions.  The treaty at Medicine Creek was signed in 1854, and the Nisqually were put on a reservation upland from the river, a place they did not inhabit historically.

Seeing parks I used to play hide-and-seek in turn to housing developments, or seeing my favorite trails turn into a parking lots turned me into a rather cynical young woman.  It is hard for me to believe that people can live with nature.  When I heard Cynthia speak about how her people used to live along the Nisqually River, it gave me hope.  It is a beautiful thing to hear that people and nature can live together. Knowing that we are working to restore Native lands to the way they once were, feels as if we are honoring not only nature the way it is meant to be, but also the people who revere this site. It gave the crews a renewed sense of purpose, a new reason to get up and view our cuts and bruises as battle scars, not just another mark on our vanity.

After our walk with Cynthia, Nano took us to see one of the Nisqually tribe’s hatcheries. I never gave much thought to hatcheries outside of the fact that they help supplement the native populations. I never gave thought to how much work went into them or what they do for the environment and our economy. I had not considered all the research opportunities are possible because other people are raising and releasing fish into the ecosystem.  Seeing the giant ponds in which hundreds of thousands of juvenile salmon are kept is astonishing. To think, they had close to one million fish and only ten percent would return to spawn—it is hard to fathom. Technicians and biologists work at the hatchery, spending so much time and effort to spawn thousands of fish, and incubate hundreds of thousands of eggs, and keep predators away only to have ten percent return years later astounded me. It may not seem like much, yet the hatchery keeps going, native populations increase, and it provides jobs for the area. Watching everyone come together to benefit both humans and the environment was impressive to say the least.

For the second time on that day I was finding renewed hope that maybe the service we are doing can be for more than just the environment but also for the people. I had begun to feel stagnant in our project; it was the same invasive removal for the same area to help some native plants and animals. However, learning about the Nisqually people then and now, and trying to do what is right by not only their people but also by nature, shook me out of my funk. It reminded me why I got into this field. Cynthia and Nano helped give me renewed hope and energy for the hot, summer months, reminding me that what I am doing is important.  To me, that is a good reason to get up every morning and go outside.

While serving for the Washington Conservation Corps and AmeriCorps, it is very easy to get swept up in the mentality “It’s for the trees. It’s for the shrubs. And it’s for the animals!” However, that means that we lose sight of “It’s also for the people. It’s to help people.” I don’t think that it’s wrong to focus on the good that we do strictly for the environment, but I also think it’s important to remember the people we are helping. The mission of the WCC is to conserve and help the environment, but by extension, we are also helping people.

Waders in the Water Certified Corpsmembers Partner to Help Private Land Owners 

Waders in the Water graduates from the New Jersey Youth Corps Phillipsburg restore a riparian buffer 
 

Submitted by Luke Frazza
Trout Headwaters, Inc.

In another creative private-public partnership, Waders in the Water (WitW) graduates from the New Jersey Youth Corps Phillipsburg partnered with the New Jersey Audubon and the Sussex County Municipal Utilities Authority/Wallkill River Watershed Management Group to work with private landowners in the Highlands region to restore habitat and improve water quality. The planting project will help reduce excess phosphorous, considered by the EPA, "one of America's most widespread, costly and challenging environmental problems."  

Register Here for the Waders in the Water class

Graduates have participated in the WitW interactive, webinar-delivered training that instructs students in:

  • Common industry tools, techniques, and processes 
  • Workplace safety
  • Proven, Practical, & Innovative Habitat Enhancement 

Certified graduates have a path to projects, jobs, and careers in the $10B/Yr. restoration economy and certified corps are better positioned to participate in the growing number of Public-private Restoration partnerships

What creative private-public partnerships await your trained and certified corpsmembers?
 


The next two-day training takes place:      

Mon.  June 20, 2016 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM EDT

Tues. June 21, 2016 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM EDT

This Training meets 2 times. Attendees are expected to attend both sessions.

 
Class size is limited so Register Here Today!

Contact info@troutheadwaters  with any questions.

National Trails Day Photo Contest - 2016

National Trails Day is coming up (Saturday, June 4th) and we know a lot of you have events planned.
What a perfect opportunity for a photo contest!

 

HOW TO PARTICIPATE

  1. Host or participate in a National Trails Day event. Be sure to take lots of pictures.
  2. Post your best pictures (there’s no limit) on social media: Facebook and/or Twitter and/or Instagram. In order to enter your photo in the contest, you must tag The Corps Network (@TheCorpsNetwork) in your caption. Also remember to use #NationalTrailsDay and tag American Hiking Society (@AmericanHiking).

Deadline: you must post your pictures on social media on or before 9:00 a.m. (EDT) Monday, June 13th. We’ll announce the winner on our social channels on Wednesday, June 15th. Submissions will be judged by staff from The Corps Network and American Hiking Society.
 

WHAT'S THE INCENTIVE?

  1. Who doesn’t like a little friendly competition among Corps? Show us that your NTD project is the best! 
  2. The American Hiking Society will share some of the pictures through their social channels. 
  3. We’re always looking for great pictures for our publications, website and social media. We’ll be sure to use pictures from this contest in our annual report and other nationally disseminated documents. Plus, we’ll feature the winning picture on our new Facebook banner. 
     

SUGGESTIONS

  • Get an action shot 
  • Take a before and after picture 
  • Make sure your NTD event is registered with AHS: http://nationaltrailsday.americanhiking.org/add-event/ 
  • In the caption, tell us where you are and what you’re doing 
     

QUESTIONS

Contact Hannah Traverse, Communications Manager: htraverse@corpsnetwork.org

The Corps Network Great Outdoors Day of Service 2015


 

The Corps Network's 2nd Annual Great Outdoors Day of Service 

Thank you to everyone who participated in The Corps Network's Great Outdoors Day of Service in the Nation's Capital! It was a huge success! 
 


Day of Service in the Nation's Capital Facts

What: On Friday, June 19th, in recognition of Great Outdoors Month (June), The Corps Network hosted the 2nd annual Great Outdoors Day of Service in the Nation's Capital. The event brought together Corps from across the country, as well as friends and supporters of The Corps Network, to participate in conservation and maintenance projects at several National Park Service sites throughout Washington, DC. The Day of Service was designed to raise awareness about the importance of environmental conservation and the role service can play in protecting America's natural spaces. We had fun conserving our parks while simultaneously demonstrating to decision-makers in Washington the value of Corps and volunteering to the environmental conservation movement. We hope you can join us next year!

- Download the fact sheet from the 2015 Day of Service

Confirmed Speakers at the 2015 Day of Service kick-off:

  • U.S. National Park Service Director John Jarvis
  • Bill Basl, Director of AmeriCorps
  • U.S. Forest Service National Recreation Director Joe Meade
  • Tina Terrell, Director of Job Corps for the U.S. Forest Service
  • Gracie Billingsley, 2015 Corpsmember of the Year 
  • Philan Tree, National Council of Young Leaders
  • Lajuan Tucker, City of Austin Park Ranger & Texas Conservation Corps alum 

Service Project locations - 2015:

  • National Mall - Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial
  • Rock Creek Park
  • Daingerfield Island
  • Teddy Roosevelt Island

Thank You to the 2015 Great Outdoors Day of Service Sponsors & Partners


 

 

Established in 1917, Guest Services is a private, U.S.-based company originally founded to provide dining services to government agencies in Washington, D.C.

For nearly a century, we have systematically built an outstanding hospitality company based on a firm foundation of great people working with great clients to serve great customers. Learn more.


 

 

 

 

 

Though the company has grown, its mission to help visitors “See the Best First” has stayed the same. Along with a commitment to quality, Old Town Trolley combines history, fun facts, colorful anecdotes, and outstanding service to provide their guests with a memorable vacation experience. Learn more.  


 
A global leader in hospitality management & food service management, Delaware North Companies presents top destinations to half a billion guests each year. With locations on four continents, serving half-a-billion guests a year, it's not easy to come up with a simple phrase that captures all we do. Yes, we’re world leaders in culinary and hospitality. We’re specialists in serving up what fans crave, and at making travelers and visitors feel right at home. But here’s how we’d like you to really think of us. We’re a team 60,000 strong. Our role is to work behind the scenes to create world-class experiences. And our spirit, our passion, is to go beyond your expectations. Learn more.


 

 

 

CBRE is the global leader in real estate services and investment.

Every day, in markets around the globe, we apply our insight, experience and resources to help clients make informed real estate decisions. Every year, we complete thousands of successful assignments across a wide range of markets and real estate service lines. Learn more.


Located in a quiet park-like setting, Hyatt Fairfax at Fair Lakes features healthy options for our travelers including on-site jogging trails, indoor lap pool and Precor aerobic equipment in our fitness center. Within walking distance of premium shopping, eateries and salons, we also provide a complimentary three mile area shuttle.  As a hotel near Washington DC, we also offer a free shuttle to and from the Vienna Metro Station. Learn more.


 

 

 

 

 

Founders, Brian Stowers and Ben Kieffner, developed Flow397 in response to a shared conviction to develop a socially responsible “for-profit” business with philanthropic origins. So we pondered, “Why not develop a business that tries to be both the best in the world and the best for the world”? We are committed to donating $3.97 for each item sold to charities that support our National Parks. Our iconic heritage and landscape deserve sustained preservation and support. Learn more.


A truly American idea, the State and National Parks of this country represent our naturalheritage. North and south, east and west, they stretch from the edges of our maps to the hearts of our cities, covering nearly one-third of this nation. This June, celebrate the natural wonder and outdoor spirit of America by getting outside during Great Outdoors Month™. Once you come outside, you’ll never want to go back inside. June is a special time to celebrate America's Great Outdoors.  What started as Great Outdoors Week under President Clinton in 1998 has grown significantly under both the Bush and Obama administrations into a month-long celebration of the outdoors and all the benefits it brings - including annual economic impact of $650 billion nationwide. Learn more.


The American Recreation Coalition (ARC) is a Washington-based nonprofit organization formed in 1979. Since its inception, ARC has sought to catalyze public/private partnerships to enhance and protect outdoor recreational opportunities and the resources upon which such experiences are based. ARC organizes and conducts national conferences and meetings and disseminates information regarding recreational needs and initiatives through a variety of means, including a monthly newsletter and its website www.funoutdoors.com. ARC also monitors legislative and regulatory proposals that influence recreation and works with government agencies and the U.S. Congress to study public-policy issues that will shape future recreational opportunities. Learn more.


 

Materials from The Corps Network's 2014 Great Outdoors Day of Service

 

Photos of the Month: April 2016

Keep updating those Facebook photos! We'll collect some of our favorite photos posted on Corps Facebook pages within the past month and post them on this blog. Here are some of our favorites from April 2016. 

 

Youth Conservation Corps
 

Mile High Youth Corps 
 

Southeast Conservation Corps 


Texas Conservation Corps 


Vermont Youth Conservation Corps 


Heart of Oregon Corps 


Maine Conservation Corps 


Earthcorps 


Arizona Conservation Corps


 

Conservation Corps Minnesota & Iowa


Civicorps 


Rocky Mountain Youth Corps - NM 


Urban Corps of San Diego County 


Urban Corps of San Diego County 


Arizona Conservation Corps 


Earthcorps
 


 

CITY OF TREES: a review by a labor historian


An environmental film that's also a story about labor


By Jason Kozlowski, Ph.D
West Virginia University


This piece was originally published in IN THESE TIMES on April 26, 2016

A film occasionally blindsides every self-professed cinephile with the depth and complexity with which it treats its subjects and themes. For me, this transpired when I saw a trailer for Brandon and Lance Kramer’s film City of Trees at the 2014 Global Labor Film Festival Organizers Conference in Washington, DC.

A nuanced view into an urban green jobs program in our capitol, the trailer impressed me with its richness and underlying humanity. Through dexterous toil, the trailer soon blossomed into a subtly powerful, insightful, and at times poignant feature-length documentary City of Trees. Blending social and environmental themes, it has been officially selected for several festival screenings, and it earned the Audience Choice Award with its premier at the 2015 American Conservation Film Festival in Shepherdstown, WV.  After eagerly awaiting the final product to analyze the ample promise it realized, I can safely attest that City of Trees does not disappoint.  

Beautifully filmed, City of Trees traces the efforts of Washington Parks & People, a DC-based nonprofit, to administer a $2.7 million grant by simultaneously providing green jobs training to some of the city’s long-term unemployed, many of whom are African American, and improving some of the capitol’s ignored and blighted public spaces. Awarded as part of the federal stimulus package during the Great Recession, the allotment runs out by mid-2012, and Parks & People directors Steve Coleman and Karen Loeschner struggle in its final months to stretch the grant’s funds and maintain the morale of those receiving them.

In this, City of Trees evokes in microcosm what federal planners during the Great Depression hastily initiated and implemented through the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The brainchild of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and a highly successful temporary jobs program from 1933 to 1942, the CCC employed roughly three million men—most of whom were under 25, single, and mandated to send $25 of their $30 total monthly stipend back to their families—in a vast array of primarily rural work projects on parks, camps, farms, forests, dams, airports, power lines, roads, and bridges that ultimately and permanently transformed America’s landscape. Its echoes, if on a much smaller, more inclusive and locally administered level without the mandate to remit salaries, ring throughout the film—short-term jobs training for the long-term unemployed to acquire durable skills, achieve personal gains, and improve public spaces.

The initial sounds overlaying the opening credits, of shovels uprooting earth, provide the essence of urban greenscaping work. Yet City of Trees yields far more fruit than the worthwhile explication of implementing a grant-funded jobs program. The Kramers skillfully immerse viewers in the challenging and often differential workplace and home lives of several staffers and the manual laborers they employ. We rapidly learn the backgrounds, struggles, and aspirations of Charles Holcomb, who strives to support his newborn daughter and incarcerated brother by being the father and male role model he lacked; Michael Samuels, who yearns for stable employment after his lengthy incarceration for selling drugs to support his ill mother; and James Magruder, a resourceful community organizer grappling with unemployment who grows in confidence and finds his voice before our eyes. From the straightforward, intelligent and heartfelt perspectives of these African American workers, what emerges is not merely the story of people receiving much-needed paychecks through training. Indeed, the filmmakers wisely and patiently allow participants in Parks & People, and the community groups and residents they encounter, to tell their own stories that provide an elaborate lens into parts of the Ward 8 community in Southeast Washington, DC.

These stories contain as many trials and tribulations as they do triumphs. In daily encounters over workplace issues, we see Holcomb, Samuels, and Magruder—sometimes quietly, sometimes directly—convey honesty toward and command respect from their peers and supervisors. Similarly, some Ward 8 political leaders and community members, as well as his African American staff who also live in Southeast, resent that Coleman, an earnest environmentalist and employer who is white, failed to either include or consult them before planting trees in Oxon Run Park. This creates tension between them and the nonprofit over public space, for it reinforces Parks & People’s outsider status to this beleaguered but proud community wary of unfulfilled promises, and illustrates that effective community empowerment is most effective through mutual respect and trust.

The filmmakers eschew the neatness of a happy ending, or another patronizing story of white-led uplift within black urban experiences. For Parks & People trainees, the dialectics of realizing success and failure, feeling elation and dejection, often hinge upon their time with or absence from loved ones, news or silence about their scores of pending job applications, and their palpable efforts to provide for others and their communities through their work. Some of the most powerful scenes reveal how hard the contemporary precariat labors to attain and maintain employment. Often alone, trainees traverse the city and frequently call prospective employers for jobs. At the same time, they display strength, resiliency, and mutual support as they convene to conduct thorough peer-reviewed practice job interviews, and lay bare their fears about barriers in job searches.

City of Trees so brilliantly succeeds not because it is an environmental film (though it clearly is) but rather because, as a terrific labor film, it uses an environmental program as a prism into the interconnected intricacies of work, race, class, urban space, male breadwinner gender roles, and community politics. Consequently, it belies the long-standing, pernicious and often racist stereotypes about the indifferent “undeserving poor,” and the politicized tropes about allegedly irresponsible community organizers emerging from the 2008 presidential campaign. Critically, it does so at precisely the time when academics, pundits, and public intellectuals are awakening to the yawning chasm of inequality in our society, and the socioeconomic effects for growing numbers of people that inequality threatens to engulf.

Even wonderful films leave us wanting more, seeking answers to our questions that the filmmakers, with their own objectives and inquiries, may have prompted but did not fully answer. Viewers receive a clear, sensitive lens into the structural poverty and problems afflicting many residents of Ward 8’s primarily African American population, and their efforts to surmount them. I sought answers to how this unfolded historically, politically, and institutionally. To an extent, this snapshot in time sets aside some questions about how these conditions emerged and were enforced over time, particularly in a city with persistent segregation. I also wondered how the black female trainees we see but hear little from in City of Trees might have complemented the primarily male perspectives we receive on class, race, and urban life from a different gendered experience. However, let my historical inquiries in no way detract from this remarkable documentary, for such questions must necessarily wait until the Kramer Brothers and Meridian Hill Pictures release their next feature film. If it is half as engrossing and inspiring as City of Trees, it will have done much to shed keen insights into our tumultuous times, and help us learn from organizations like Parks & People and communities such as Ward 8.

 

About Jason Kozlowski
Jason Kozlowski, Ph.D. from the University of Illinois, 2012, is a labor historian and labor educator at the West Virginia University Institute for Labor Studies and Research. His research interests interrogate the impacts of labor processes, globalization, and deindustrialization on workplace sociology, organizations, and working-class culture. His broad-based teaching and research interests also include public-sector history, oral history, and contemporary and historical representations of class, race, culture, and urban space in media and culture.

Photos of the Month: March 2016

Keep updating those Facebook photos! We'll collect some of our favorite photos posted on Corps Facebook pages within the past month and post them on this blog. Here are some of our favorites from March 2016. 

 


Earthcorps



LA Conservation Corps 



Texas Conservation Corps 



Onondaga Earth Corps 



Youth Conservation Corps 



Southeast Conservation Corps 



Southwest Conservation Corps 



Earth Conservation Corps

 


Greening Youth Foundation 



Conservation Corps of the Forgotten Coast 



Green City Force 



Civicorps 



ACE 



Arizona Conservation Corps 



LA Conservation Corps 



Earthcorps 



Washington Conservation Corps

 

Photos of the Month: February 2016

Keep updating those Facebook photos! We'll collect some of our favorite photos posted on Corps Facebook pages within the past month and post them on this blog. Here are some of our favorites from February 2016. 

 



California Conservation Corps 



Mt. Adams Institute 



Earthcorps 



Heart of Oregon Corps 



Limitless Vistas, Inc. 



Western Colorado Conservation Corps 



Greater Miami Service Corps 



Arizona Conservation Corps 



Washington Conservation Corps 



Texas Conservation Corps 



Climb CDC 



Mile High Youth Corps 



Utah Conservation Corps 

 

Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center Courier: Volume 3, Issue 1

2016 Corpsmember of the Year Speeches

Every year, the Corpsmember of the Year speeches are a highlight of The Corps Network National Conference. Click below to watch the 2016 Corpsmembers of the Year tell their inspiring stories. 

 

Jasmin Angeles - Los Angeles Conservation Corps 


 

 


Timothy Gunn - The Sustainability Institute


 


Keoni Kikala - Kupu, Hawaii Youth Conservation Corps


 


Katheryne Lewis - Montana Conservation Corps 


 


Angela Noah - Northwest Youth Corps

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