The Graduate Employee Union (GEU) is the Portland State University Union for Graduate Employees. The GEU has been trying to secure a fair contract for over a year prior to my attending PSU and my membership with the GEU.
The primary need upon my joining was to help the GEU increase membership in the instance of a need to go on strike. There were many approaches to this need, however my recommendation was to use food, and the premise of community, to draw people in and inform them of the current status of the union.
So far there have been a few events including a Free Coffee Cart, the Winter Warmer Soup and Schmooze, A large family meal for all three graduate unions attending AFT Oregon's winter school (CGE and GTFF), and a Homemade Lunch at the Bargaining Table.
Between these events, and other efforts unaffiliated with food, GEU Boasts a successful rise to 50% membership, and the final event resulted in reaching an agreement with administration securing the GEU's first ever contract with PSU.
Moving forward the GEU is in need of defining its culture to remain healthy and hearty looking towards renegotiation of the contract in three years. Given the high level of turnover between students graduating there is a major need to retain knowledge among the current cohort. All of this will be benefited by a community culture that gathers around food.
Later this month there will be a bargaining solidarity dinner between the GEU and the PSUFA, the adjunct faculty union at PSU.
Community pARTnerships is a project I participated in as an Americorps VISTA Volunteer at Arts on the Block for one year from November 2015 to November in 2016. I served as the Community Arts Coordinator whose responsibilities were engaging and collaborating with the East County Community to help create a new ongoing youth community art program for Arts on the Block.
Working closely with Impact Silver Spring we collaborated with the larger East County Community. Together we attended and organized community meetings, facilitated workshops, and ran youth led community mapping and interviewing initiatives.
Community pARTnerships took many forms, and culminated in many amazing outputs and events. Documented in this gallery is the East County Community Social featuring the Who Got Da Best Shoes Competition. The event served to introduce Arts on the Block to the community and vice versa. The Community Social was planned in conjunction with the young people in the YES Program at the East County Community Center.