Alternative Spring Breaks returned this year with several different themes. As part of the yearly tradition, Rice students were able to spend their spring breaks helping to contribute to a certain cause. A couple of these addressed environmental concerns — Shifting Tides and Mission: Wolf.
Shifting Tides: Exploring How Environmental Advocacy and Policy Promote Water Justice
The Shifting Tides ASB traveled to Sacramento, CA to engaged with local environmental advocacy groups and lawmakers in order to understand their roles in water justice issues. Some of these groups included the Pacifica Beach Coalition, the California EPA, the Environmental Justice Coalition for Water, and the Community Water Center. Students on the ASB were able to gain deeper insights into how environmental advocacy groups educate communities and create solutions for water issues.
For co-leader Anna Truong, the biggest takeaway from the trip was “how our community partners and organizations like them function together to educate communities, create solutions, gather funding, and conduct research on water justice.” She and her co-leader, Anna Purtscher, were required to do intense research on their social issue and organized several meetings with various community partners that have roles in water justice prior to the trip. According to Purtscher, it was surprising that “while the connections between our community partners play a key role in the overall effectiveness of their endeavors, it is still the present disconnect between them that limits their impact” and progress in water justice.
Water is a necessity that if often taken for granted. Communities such as Flint, Michigan, California, South Africa, and even right here in Texas suffer from lack of water and poor quality.
“It is necessary to be aware of water justice because it is a human rights issue, and we, as people in positions of privilege, have an obligation to create more equal societies and use our abilities to advocate for those who are unable to,” said Truong.
Link to Shifting Tides ASB blog: https://sites.google.com/view/shiftingtides
Mission: Wolf was a trip of thirteen Rice students that traveled to Westcliffe, Colorado. Mission: Wolf is an organization with the mission of education people on wolf conservation issues. In addition, they also serve as a sanctuary for wolves and wild dogs born in captivity unable to survive in the wild.
Co-leader Ben Johnson has attended this thrip for three years in a row, learning something new each time. “I loved seeing people connect with the animals and become aware of truths about conservation,” said Johnson.
Johnson believes that this trip is important because it “shows Rice students that they can do service through many means,” as this was not an official ASB. They are able to both go an adventure and become educated about conservation.
During the trip, the participants helped Mission: Wolf with various projects, such as installing new flooring on one of their greenhouses. Johnson particularly enjoyed hiking early in the morning prior to the start of the workday.
For those interested in participating on this trip, it will be repeated again next year.