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Meet the Interns: Hi, Ashley!

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“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.

Meet the Interns: Hey there, Tegan!

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We have such an amazing team of young leaders working behind the scenes to support our global programs and home-base operations as part of WEA’s Internship Program this spring!
 
Meet Tegan, the passionate and multi-gifted force who has jumped right in to support our growth with her artistry, professionalism and skill in this exciting time for WEA. We are so lucky to have her on our team this semester before she heads off to grad school (congratulations, Tegan!) to deeper her impact for communities and the earth.
 

Name: Tegan Stuart
Hometown: Portland, OR

If you had a superpower, what would it would be (and why):
I would either want the ability to make plants grow or manipulate natural materials, kind of like an Earthbender from Avatar. I think I could make the world a better place with this gift and maybe keep some of my houseplants alive for more than a few months.

Why did you want to intern with WEA?
I hope to enter a career in the nonprofit sector someday and I want to have experience with an organization whose values I align with. WEA’s mission and the way it is implemented is appealing in terms of capacity building, empowerment, and responsiveness. I admire how socially responsible WEA is and I would like to take these values and experiences into my long term career.

Tell us about a woman who inspires you.
I know it sounds cliche, but my mother inspires me so much. She owns a small business and she works harder than anyone I’ve ever met. She taught me to be compassionate, but also firm when necessary.

Why women and why the environment?
Much of my background has been in interpersonal violence prevention, which disproportionately impacts female identifying individuals. The empowerment and support of women is key to preventing violence and to enriching a community to its brightest potential. I also strongly believe that the world needs many more female leaders and I can’t wait to see how all the amazing women around me change the world.

The environment it also important to me in terms of its direct implications for human health and the reality of environmental violence. Environmental neglect will always unfairly impact marginalized communities and in order to support social justice and health equity, environmental advocacy and consciousness are extremely important.

What does your life outside WEA look like?
I am currently in my last year of undergraduate studies at Saint Mary’s College of California. I am studying health science and creative writing so I divide most of my time between laboratories and coffee shops. I am on the executive team for Women in Science and Engineering Club (WiSE) and The Lounge, which is a diversity focused open mic night that takes place monthly in the intercultural center. I am also actively involved in the Student Coalition Against Abuse and Rape. When I’m not in class or organizing club events I love to draw, paint, listen to podcasts, write poetry and fiction, read novels and comics, and finally practice guitar.

What’s your favorite thing to do in the Bay Area?
Every couple of months I take BART to Embarcadero and I spend a Sunday afternoon in the ferry building. I usually spend a few hours browsing the farmers market and looking for a new read at Book Passage.

What are you currently reading / watching / listening to?
I’ve been reading a fantasy series called Throne of Glass, however I am thinking of taking a break to reread my favorite series: the Raven Cycle. I also have been itching to start Children of Blood and Bone.

Meet the Interns: Oh hey, Selena!

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Each semester, WEA works with a cohort of excited and dedicated interns who join us to support our staff and the women we partner with in deeply impactful ways. They help us tell the story of our work, uplift the women leaders we work with around the world, engage with our supporters, bring their perspectives and energy to our office and operations, and so much more. We’re always so honored to have their touch strengthening the core of WEA’s work, and to be able to invest in their leadership as they continue to create change in the world.

This semester, one of the incredible young women we get to work with is Selena Neptune-Bear, a junior at Dartmouth College from the Penobscot Indian Reservation. Selena brings so much skill, integrity and dedication to her work and the things she’s passionate about (and she also has great taste in music). It’s such a privilege to have her on the team!

Name: Selena Neptune-Bear
Hometown: Indian Island, Maine

If you had a superpower, it would be (and why):
If I had a superpower, I would want the ability to speak every language. I love traveling and learning about other cultures, along with sharing my own. I think I would be able to meet so many interesting people and learn so much.

Why did you want to intern with WEA?
I am a Native American and Women and Gender Studies major, hoping to pursue an independent research study on the epidemic of violence against Indigenous women. And so, I first heard about the Women’s Earth Alliance through their Violence on the Land, Violence on our Bodies report and toolkit. I was doing a research paper for my Native American law and literature class and used the report, in large, to shape my argument. The connections drawn in this project were ingenious and I just fell in love with it.

Tell us about a woman who inspires you.
My biggest inspiration, right now, has to be congresswoman Sharice Davids. Davids, a Ho-Chunk tribal member became one of the first native American women elected to congress with New Mexico’s Deb Haaland, during this past election. She is also the first LGBT person to represent Kansas. However, it is her confident and unapologetic attitude that inspires me. Davids is not only intelligent but versatile. She is an activist, lawyer, former women’s MMA fighter, and stands up for human equality. Her drive to make it to congress, and be among the first to provide representation for native women, is something that gives me hope.

Why women and why the environment?
As a Penobscot woman, the environment is very much tied to my identity, shaping ceremonies, my tribe’s creation story, and providing my people with sustenance. And so, my culture places great importance on the environment and our role as caregivers and protectors. Additionally, I come from a matrilineal society, and so, the value and power of women has been instilled in me from a young age. To find an environmental organization that places the power of leadership in the hands of women was like coming home.

What does your life outside WEA look like?
As a full-time student, my life outside of WEA can be fairly chaotic. At Dartmouth, I am involved in our Native American Program, a member of our Movement Against Violence organization, along with Inclusivity and Diversity Chair of my sorority, Alpha Phi. I work with America Reads, traveling to nearby third grade classrooms to read and spend time with them. In my spare time, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, being outdoors, or beading earrings.

What’s your favorite thing to do in the Bay Area?
I am new to the area. But I love visiting the Marina, and being by the ocean, along with reading in the Botanical Gardens near Golden Gate Park. I have been exploring and trying to take in as much as I can. However, I am from Maine, where the temperature is in the negatives this time of the year. And so, I think my favorite thing is not having to spend an hour brushing snow off my car and hoping I don’t freeze in the process.

What are you currently reading / watching / listening to?
I am currently reading The Hate You Give, a book written by Angie Thomas. It is about a sixteen-year-old girl and her life “between two worlds.” It addresses issues of racism and police violence with intelligence, and is so captivating. I love a wide range of music. I currently made a playlist for a skiing trip that I haven’t stopped listening to, that includes artists, like Carlos Santana, Redbone, Shaggy, J. Cole, Slightly Stoopid, and The Allman Brothers Band.

World WEAvers Salon: Emmanuela Shinta and the Impacts of Palm Oil in Indonesia

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As a team and community, we feel an urgency now more than ever before to broaden our circles and bring people together. Introducing World WEAvers Salons — small, informal gatherings of friends, neighbors and community members — to provide a space for us all to learn about important issues affecting our Earth and frontline communities, as well as generate innovative solutions to meet these challenges with hope and agility. We invite you to reach out if you are interested in attending, hosting, or have an idea for a speaker/topic for an upcoming salon.
 

 

 

In a moment of global environmental crisis, Indonesia is ground zero. Widespread deforestation and related wildfires make it the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases and endanger the survival of indigenous and endemic species, including the Sumatran orangutan. Tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanoes, and toxic smog are causing mass migration, transforming entire communities into climate refugees. Rivers and lakes are being consumed by plastic waste, coral bleaching is destroying ocean habitats, and rising seas are swallowing islands.

In response to the onslaught of environmental threats and crises facing local communities, and by extension the world, it is the women of Indonesia who are rising to meet these challenges.

Earlier this month, WEA had the honor of hosting Emmanuela Shinta, a Dayak leader, environmentalist and filmmaker from Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo), for an intimate gathering to share how her community and environment continues to be affected by the world’s palm oil consumption.
 

 

WEA first met Shinta during Indonesia’s great Palm Oil Haze of 2015. At that time, Shinta was deeply immersed in mentoring young women activists who were passionately raising awareness about their country’s mass deforestation and burning of peat-rich rainforests to make room for mono crops of oil palm trees. This palm oil was to be used across the world in processed foods, beauty products and biofuels. In 2016, Shinta started the YOUTH ACT CAMPAIGN, a youth movement to end the forest fires and haze that have been happening for 20 years in Kalimantan.

Shinta is the founder of Ranu Welum Foundation, which works on issues of social culture, humanity, and environment in Kalimantan. She is at the forefront of taking an active and peaceful role in preserving the heritage, humanity, and environment of her community.
 

 
Learn more. Take action.

Did you know?

  • At 66 million tons annually, palm oil is the most commonly produced vegetable oil
  • Indonesia is the world’s largest producer of palm oil
  • Indonesia temporarily surpassed the United States in terms of greenhouse gas emissions in 2015
  • More than 700 land conflicts in Indonesia are related to the palm oil industry

 

Here are several resources for diving deeper into the impacts of palm oil on Kalimantan, and taking action in our own lives to shift our consumption habits away from this devastating industry.

 

Meet the interns: Hi, Monzerrat!

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Wondering who is working behind the scenes to support our programs and operations this fall? Meet Monzerrat! Monzerrat is a passionate young leader with a soft-spoken way about her, who has readily jumped in to optimize our systems and support our growth and international projects. We are so lucky to have her on our team this semester and can’t wait to see the far-reaching impact she has for WEA women and the environment!

 

Name: Monzerrat Loza
Hometown: La Quinta, CA

If you had a superpower, it would be:
I would want to have the ability to communicate with animals! If I were ever in a situation with a “dangerous” animal I could speak to it and know how it is feeling.

Why did you want to intern/volunteer with WEA?
I wanted to work with an organization that does empowering environmental work and on top of that works to empower women on a international level. I have found many times that organizations emphasize feeling a specific environmental problem or a social justice one, but WEA explores the intersections of both and I find that exciting and motivating.

Tell us about a woman or women-led movement that who inspires you.
The biggest inspiration throughout my entire life has always been my mom. She is the strongest person I know. She left everything behind in Mexico, learned a new language, took side-jobs as a house cleaner, and supported myself and my three sisters all on her own. She is the person I aspire to be like.

Why women and why the environment?
First and foremost, we are nothing without a clean, healthy environment and this directly intersects with women’s health. Women face a greater biological burden from the impacts that arise from climate change and substances humans put out into the environment.

What does your life outside WEA look like?
I just recently graduated from UC Berkeley and I am trying to figure out what I want to do with my life post-graduation. I enjoy warm weather and those are the days I like to take walks and find a park to sit at and read.

What’s your favorite thing to do in the Bay Area?
My favorite thing to do in the Bay is to explore good food spots with my friends once in a while, or to visit Dolores Park.

What are you currently reading / watching / listening to?
I am slowly but surely making my way through Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits. I find that I really enjoy Latino writers that dabble in magical realism and this is a great example of this genre. I am also currently watching the fourth season of X Files.