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The Intersectionality of Eco-Justice

Aaron Salzman (’20-21 Portland Morris) reflects on his year serving as the Climate Advocacy Associate at Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon and the inseparable relationship of ecological justice and the other Core Values.

Of the four JVC Northwest values, my service is most directly related to ecological justice. I serve as the Climate Advocacy Associate at Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, and I aim to advance policies that, in part, serve Oregon’s natural environments. However, that is only one goal of my position; the reality is that ecological justice is inseparable from social justice, spirituality, and community. When climate catastrophe strikes, it harms historically marginalized groups, spiritually significant sites, and the fabric of entire communities. To mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis, we cannot neglect these other values, or else we will risk exacerbating existing disparities in vulnerability to environmental disaster.

One of the most inspiring examples of this in my service has been the Oregon Clean Energy Opportunity campaign, of which EMO is a member. This campaign sponsored three bills (all of which passed in the 2021 session!): one authorizing utilities to charge differential rates for energy based on income; the second creating a grant program to fund air quality-improving home repairs and retrofits for marginalized communities; and the third implementing a 100% clean energy standard for Oregon’s two biggest utilities. Although monthly energy bills might seem unrelated to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the campaign crafted its bill package to respond to an intersectional understanding of the climate crisis. As the planet warms, environmental justice communities will be hit first and worst, and they will need extra resources to adapt to the new threats to human health. Simultaneously, the world will need to transition to non-emitting forms of power to mitigate these environmental threats. However, in our rush to decarbonize, we cannot place the burden of the transition onto already overburdened, marginalized groups. The clean energy transition will introduce new economic pressures on the system, making rate protections for low-income, rural and BIPOC communities even more urgent. Additionally, in light of our nation’s history of treating tribal lands as “sacrifice zones,” the clean energy bill specifically requires consultation with Indigenous tribes for any new energy projects that would impact their spiritually and culturally significant places.

My service this year has taught me that we can solve multiple problems at the same time. Indeed, we cannot afford not to treat our ecological crisis as a racial crisis, an economic crisis, a spiritual crisis and a societal cohesion crisis. If we don’t understand this crisis as intersectional, then we will only create new problems in trying to solve it. JVC Northwest’s values are therefore a refreshing and badly needed resource for those working to address the climate crisis.

To read more about Eco-Justice at JVC Northwest, visit our Eco-Justice page.

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Get to Know JVC Northwest

Tuesday, September 28 | 7:00pm ET/4:00pm PT 

Join us to learn all the basics about a year of service in the Pacific Northwest, including where you can serve, what you might do, and how to apply. Our Recruiter, Zayna, will also share her experience as a JV in both Alaska and Montana. Finally, we’ll open it up for an informal Q+A. 

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Wednesday, October 6 | 6:00pm ET/3:00pm PT

How can you position yourself to be a strong candidate for JVC Northwest? We’ll share tips and tricks to help you navigate the application, interview, matching, and placement process. We’ll also leave plenty of time for Q+A.  

Zayna Abusada

JVC Northwest Recruiter

Zayna Abusada (Ashland, MT ’17-18, Anchorage, AK ’18-19) was most recently a JV in south-central Alaska serving with immigrant and refugee English-Language learners as the Academy for Citizenship and Civics Support Specialist with the Alaska Literacy Program (ALP) in Anchorage. Zayna first served with Indigenous students on the Northern Cheyenne and Crow Reservations. Originally from Iowa City, Iowa, Zayna went on to earn her undergraduate degree in History and Theological Studies with a minor in Middle Eastern Studies at Saint Louis University.

Catch Zayna at an Event Near You!


9/8/2021Saint Mary’s College (IN)VirtualFall Career Fair
9/9/2021University of Notre DameVirtualFall Career Fair
9/13/2021University of DaytonIn PersonFall Career Fair
9/14/2021University of Notre DameIn PersonFall Career Fair
9/14/2021Saint Joseph’s UniversityVirtualFall Career Fair
9/15/2021Saint Louis UniversityVirtualAll Majors Career Expo
9/16/2021University of DaytonVirtualFall Career Fair
9/17/2021Creighton UniversityVirtualFall Career Fair
9/17/2021Georgetown UniversityVirtualFall Career Fair
9/20/2021University of Wisconsin-MadisonIn PersonPublic Service Fair
9/21/2021Whitman CollegeVirtualCareer & Internship Fair
9/21/2021University of San FranciscoVirtualCareer Premiere: Service Careers
9/22/2021Le Moyne CollegeVirtualFall Job and Internship Fair
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9/23/2021University of IowaIn PersonHelping, Health, & Public Service Industry Career Fair
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9/23/2021Xavier UniversityVirtualFall Career Fair
9/29/2021Santa Clara UniversityVirtualFall Career Fair Bash
9/29/2021Fairfield UniversityVirtualFall Career & Internship Fair
9/29/2021DePaul UniversityVirtualFall Career Fair (Day 1 Only)
9/30/2021Providence CollegeVirtualFall Career Expo
9/30/2021Saint Martin’s UniversityVirtualInternship & Service Fair


10/5/2021Pepperdine UniversityVirtualCareers with Social Impact Fair
10/6/2021Saint Mary’s College (CA)VirtualCareer & Internship Fair
10/7/2021Loyola New Orleans/UNOVirtualJoint Fall Job & Internship Fair
10/7/2021Spring Hill CollegeVirtualBadger Career Expo Day 2
10/13/2021Gonzaga UniversityIn PersonPost Grad Service Fair
10/13/2021Ohio UniversityVirtualGovernment, Nonprofit, and Service Fair
10/16/2021Ignatian Family Teach-InVirtualBreakout Session and Exhibiting
10/18/2021University of DaytonVirtualBeyond UD Fair: Post Graduate Volunteer Programs