Read the latest WEAvings Newsletter today As we enter our 13th spring at WEA, we know more than ever the power of global grassroots action. Global movements like the recent climate protests led by youth around the world, remind us that ideas can germinate faster than ever, and indeed, no person or idea is too small to […]
Each September for the past 2 years, Chief Caleen Sisk has led the Winnemem Wintu Tribe and allies in the Run4Salmon, a 300-mile journey from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta region to the tribe’s historic village site on the McCloud River near Mt. Shasta. This two-week long prayerful event is a call to action to restore the endangered winter-run Chinook salmon, which are sacred to the Winnemem, and whose populations are severely threatened by climate change and construction of dams in the area.
Planning for this year’s Run4Salmon — which will take place from Sept 15-30 — is underway. WEA was honored to support last year’s run as it traveled through Ohlone territory and will be doing so again this September.
“Women are the backbones of their communities, and yet they face marginalization on multiple fronts. If we are able to cultivate spaces where women’s rights and needs are prioritized rather than treated as an afterthought, entire communities will benefit.” – Ashley Vu, WEA Intern
To say we are incredibly fortunate and honored to be able to work with young women leaders like Ashley is an understatement. Ashley has been supporting the development of our recently launched grassroots accelerators, our donor stewardship program, and our organizational outreach with such care, dedication and attention to detail. Read on to get to her know more!
Name: Ashley Vu
Hometown: Santa Ana, CA
If you had a superpower, what would it would be (and why):
I would want to be able to teleport. I’ve always wanted to travel the world and being able to teleport would mean that I can do just that without breaking the bank (at least in terms of transportation).
Why did you want to intern with WEA?
I was taking an Environmental Health and Development class this past summer and my professor had mentioned a local non-profit organization called WEA, who was not only helping the environment but also doing so through uplifting and working directly with women leaders in the communities they were hoping to impact. I found WEA’s mission statement incredibly inspiring and began to follow them since.
Tell us about a woman who inspires you.
I would have to say my grandma. She practically raised me and as I’ve gotten older I realize how much she’s done for my family. She emigrated from Viet Nam in hopes of providing a better life for her seven children, raised those seven children as a single mother in a foreign country, and reminds all of her grandchildren to keep in touch with our Vietnamese culture. Even at 79 years old, she holds a light within her that shows no signs of dulling anytime soon. She is truly one of the most resilient and independent women I know and I hope to be at least half of the woman she is.
Why women and why the environment?
Women are the backbones of their communities, and yet they face marginalization on multiple fronts. If we are able to cultivate spaces where women’s rights and needs are prioritized rather than treated as an afterthought, entire communities will benefit.
The environment, as well, has been treated as an afterthought by many people, but the ways that it affects us are plentiful. Specifically, marginalized communities are the most impacted when they are the ones who are often the least responsible for the state of our planet. It’s about time we start treating climate change and environmental issues as urgent problems that need prompt addressing.
What does your life outside WEA look like?
I’m currently a senior at UC Berkeley studying Applied Mathematics, so this past semester (outside of WEA) has consisted of me trying to study my best while also trying to take in as much of Berkeley/the Bay Area as I can. I’m usually either studying, hanging out with friends, going thrift shopping, or trying new food places. My friends and I have a “bucket list” of restaurants and hiking spots we’ve been wanting to visit before we all graduate.
What’s your favorite thing to do in the Bay Area?
I love the food scene in the Bay Area, specifically Berkeley; there’s so many different cuisines but also small Mom-and-Pop shops, which I love. My hometown is pretty diverse in food options, but oversaturated with a lot of food chain restaurants. Here, I’m able to get small glimpses of other cultures through their food and I’m also able to support small businesses whose establishments hold so much history and sentiment for the communities they reside in.
What are you currently reading / watching / listening to?
I’m currently reading Jung’s Map of the Soul by Murray Stein and Michelle Obama’s memoir, Becoming. As for what I’m listening to, I’m always listening to the K-Pop group BTS (a lot of people don’t realize how thoughtful their lyrics are!) and have also been listening to a lot of H.E.R.
Everyday, WEA women leaders model this most basic truth: when women are equipped with resources and support, they not only profoundly impact their local environment, but they create a positive ripple effect on entire regions. As the U.S. elections and our partners have shown, we can never underestimate the impact that each of our actions has on this world. May all our circles keep widening.
Stay tuned for your chance to grab a limited-edition “RIPPLE” letterpress print or postcard pack. They hit the WEA marketplace in early December!
WEA’s newest Leadership Board member, Charity Tooze, is a longtime champion of women’s rights, and currently serves as Director of Gender, Partnerships, and Communications with Equal Access International. She’s a creative social impact leader with a fierce commitment to uplifting girl and women-led organizations, and we are honored to have her experience and voice on our board.