The summer of 2016 has been a summer of firsts: my first “big-girl” job; my first time working 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. days; my first time actually enjoying the work; but more importantly, the first time I feel like what I am doing is making a difference.
Working at Burten, Bell, Carr Development, Inc. (BBC) has also brought me to the Kinsman and Central neighborhoods for the first time. As a community development corporation, BBC is known and respected throughout the community and city. Within the first half of the internship, I have fallen in love with these neighborhoods. They are not filled with activity like downtown, or new and trendy like Tremont or Ohio City. They are more than that. These neighborhoods are filled with stories, friendships, and a yearning for change unlike any I’ve seen before – a change that stems from BBC’s work in the community. The Kinsman and Central neighborhoods are a part of Cleveland known as “the forgotten triangle.” As the areas around them grew and developed, these areas were essentially left in the dust. Thankfully, that has not damped the spirit of community in these neighborhoods.
What has struck me most about Kinsman and Central is the amount of urban agriculture and overall environmental work that is happening within these neighborhoods, and the way this agricultural work strengthens the spirit of the community. There is a 28-acre Urban Agriculture Innovation Zone, part of which serves as an incubator for small or start-up farmers. The area is also the site for the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District’s green infrastructure plan, along with a variety of environmental programs through BBC and other organizations. My internship is largely focused on the climate ambassadors program, part of the Cleveland Climate and Urban Resilience Opportunity Initiative through Cleveland Neighborhood Progress.
Through my internship, I work with three women to help them create plans for their year as climate ambassadors. This has been the most amazing part of my time at BBC. When I began 6 weeks ago, the women’s programs were nothing more than ideas and rough timelines. Now, the grant proposals are submitted, the timelines are set, and the programs are taking shape. Seeing the joy and excitement of the ambassadors as they watch their dreams become reality has been beautiful. Through this program, the ambassadors are gaining knowledge, training, and leadership skills. This experience has brought them into the community, networking with peers and creating partnerships with other organizations. The climate ambassadors program is not only improving the local environment and community, but also changing individual lives for the better.
My experience at BBC and my work with the climate ambassadors has also changed my own perspective. Throughout my life, my career ambition has been to change the world, regardless of how I did it. My internship at BBC has shown me that maybe it is not about changing the entire world, but simply changing one person’s world.
Megan Goedeker, a senior at John Carroll University double majoring in Biology and History, is placed at Burten Bell Carr Development Corporation (BBC). Megan develops community outreach strategies for BBC’s Climate Ambassadors Project, connecting neighborhood resident ambassadors to citywide sustainability initiatives, and creates volunteer outreach events and workshops.