Another way I am successfully pursuing the environmental issues is through my position with Green Iowa AmeriCorps. This began as a 6-month position as the Project Support Coordinator for the Energy & Community track of Green Iowa AmeriCorps in Dubuque. My office was located in downtown Dubuque in the Operation New View office. It was an experience I thought would turn out a lot differently but I still do not regret anything about it. I met a lot of amazing people and learned a lot about everything great happening in Dubuque as far as helping the environment. I would have never imagined that Dubuque is considered the most sustainable city in Iowa and all of the green goals they're shooting for. In this 6-month role, I completed energy audits and weatherizations in homes to directly impact the community in a positive way. We would help get their home more energy efficient and reduce the energy bills, while also reducing the carbon emissions of the home. I also was able to count volunteering in the community towards my hours and this was probably my favorite part. I greatly enjoyed helping in the different urban gardens during the summer months, along with helping plant trees in different areas. I can't get over how many amazing opportunities there are in Dubuque and the visions that are actually being sought through.
I am now completing an 11-month term with the Sustainable Schools track of Green Iowa AmeriCorps. I am the Energy Efficiency Coordinator and work directly with the schools to make them more green and sustainable in any way they wish. A lot of them have green efforts started but I am here to follow through with them and lessen the load on the staff. I have enjoyed this position so far and have enjoyed having the solid waste agency education coordinator as my supervisor. She has given me a lot of resources and kept my team member and I on track. I will be sure to keep you updated on my future adventures with Sustainable Schools!
I began working as the Communications Specialist for the Clayton County Energy District (Iowa) in March of 2019. This was sort of a stumbled upon opportunity as I knew I wanted to stop my career at Upper Iowa University as the Coordinator of Retail Services and pursue something that would positively effect the environment. I happened to message Joleen Jansen to ask if there were any opportunities with the District. She happened to be needing someone right in that moment and it almost worked out too smoothly.
Not only did Joleen offer me a part time job as a communications specialist the first time we talked on Zoom, but she also let me know she would positively refer me to the Green Iowa AmeriCorps program I had recently applied for. Two positive environmental activism opportunities were thrown at me at once, I knew it was time for a transition in my life!
Since beginning, I have gained a ton of experience in many areas; energy efficiency, marketing, press releases, graphic work, Word Press, writing articles, events, and much more. I have been writing articles, mostly summarizing or marketing events and initiatives for the Clayton County Energy District. These articles are then posted on the CCED website and social media pages. Through participating in the different events and initiatives and writing about them, I have learned a lot about different clean energy efficiency techniques such as lighting, solar, battery storage, etc.
I have been able to network with many people who can lead me in the direction I am pursuing and I can't wait to see where this position and experience happens to lead me! This has been an almost full circle opportunity in many ways.
― C. JoyBell C.
It seems sometimes as though when life wants to throw change at you, it's going to throw a whole mass of change at once. Sometimes it feels like that mass of change can barely be handled but somehow, there is always a way to push through it. That change can seem scary at first because it can give one a whole bunch of different directions to choose. Sometimes you have to take that leap of faith and choose what is thought that will bring you the furthest, or make you the happiest. The hardest part is figuring out which one of those does that... is there ever really a true answer?
In just about a week, I will be completely finished with my Bachelor's Degree in Art. Seventeen years in school later and I still do not know what I want to do with my life. However, I have learned there really is no specific answer to this. All I know for sure is that I have learned a lot about myself, more than anything, during my entire school career. More importantly, I have learned the most about myself and my goals in the past two years. I have become a much happier, confident and independent individual and it has brought me to many new experiences I never thought I would have the courage to try. I have to say though, it has a lot to do with the college I chose and the mentors along the way. Transferring to Upper Iowa University was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. Something about the timing, the people, and the situations made me feel like I was right where I needed to be for once in my life.
So now that my Upper Iowa journey is close to being over, there's no way I can pretend I'm not terrified of what's to come. I told myself that after I leave the guidance of school and mentors that I will continue pushing myself and not quit my drive and hustle. I believe the only thing that could possibly stop me from remaining happy and feeling like I'm in the right place, is myself. I know I need to continue jumping into opportunities that may scare me as I know they can only better me as a person. Last year, I got to experience a trip to Italy and I participated in RAGBRAI (The Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa). I also jumped into a lot of internships and had great attendance in anything I was involved with. I made myself get out of bed early each morning, making sure I was ready for the day. I also tried eating healthy and whole as much as possible and just never quit trying to be a better, healthier, and happier person. I enjoyed and appreciated a lot of the little moments and made sure to think back on how great they actually were (I still can't believe I actually got my butt on a plane and flew to another country). I realized last year that the world is HUGE and we in the United States are so fortunate to be able to explore it and enjoy freedom.
I also grew in terms of my art. I learned that I am greatly impacted by the environment and it the destruction that is occurring in it, bothers me to the core. I have definitely had some break downs, beating myself up over these topics as I felt there was nothing I could do. I had to remind myself there are little steps I can take to make improvements to the environment, climate change, and materialism. I learned that getting angry at others for their actions does not make them do better. I made sure to research the projects, committees, and individuals that are also trying to make a difference on the environmental impact to know that I am not the only one trying. These concerns began appearing in my art and brought me in a certain direction. I ended up discovering new ways to manipulate materials, to bring them into a certain body of work. I discovered I love to work with paper pulp more than anything. The fact that its a recycled material and requires little resources and includes a tedious process is what draws me to it. Anyways, here I am going on a tangent about paper pulp... I guess I truly am obsessed but I plan to continue working with this material and see where I can take it.
Another thing I can't believe is that my senior thesis/show is already up and my reception has already happened. It went wonderfully. Everything went so smoothly, I often questioned if it really happened. I realized that I am able to complete a cohesive body of work and then display it effectively. I know in the future I want to continue creating larger bodies of work and then try some solo exhibitions. This is a way I feel I can make an impact on people's lives in terms of environmentalism and what they can do to help, and not harm.