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Crag Law Center

Crag interns and supporters with Staff Attorney Ralph Bloemers after he argued before the Oregon Court of Appeals

During the Summer of 2018, I interned with Crag Law Center, a non-profit organization which provides legal aid for the environment throughout the Pacific Northwest. My internship was organized through DukeEngage Portland, a civic engagement program organized by Duke University focused on environmental advocacy in Oregon.

Within the first couple of days at Crag, I realized what I wanted to focus on: creating posts about legal cases. This would enable me to learn about various climate, public land, and wildlife issues and create content for the website. I hadn’t yet realized the challenges of converting legal terminology into values people hold dear or the difficulty of condensing the vast amounts of content into single comprehensive web pages.

I would start by reviewing the material already created, developing a basic understanding of the issues being debated and the history of the case. Then, I met with the lead attorney to discuss the values involved, details to highlight, and recent updates. With this information, I would compile everything onto a google doc, and begin the process of writing and editing into four sections: introduction, what’s at stake, history, and team effort. I tried to achieve the fundamental goals of Crag’s communication work: conveying what they’re fighting for, putting a face to the lawyers, and highlighting the progress that has been made. I also interviewed clients and former Crag law clerks, revised the website, and created content for Crag’s Facebook page.

Crag Summer Party 2018

During weekly staff meetings, I was given the same five minutes to speak as everyone else. I felt comfortable sharing ideas and taking initiative, which led to me to organize and execute two of my own social media campaigns: “Oregon Week” highlighting Oregon’s nature and legal cases aimed at protecting it and “Say No to Jordan Cove” mobilizing followers to submit public comments opposing a dangerous and environmentally-destructive liquefied natural gas pipeline and export facility.

Throughout the summer, I saw the impact of the organization I dedicated my summer to firsthand. I watched the lawyers argue in the Oregon Court of Appeals and in the 9th Circuit. I met supporters at a summer celebration, house party and through interviews at their offices. I participated in trail restoration along the Pacific Crest Trail, witnessing the incredible recovery of recently burned forests and ensuring people could hike through the area. The most fun I had was when I went with Crag out rafting on the White Salmon River – a fun and exhilarating experience, connecting me to the great outdoors and my colleagues.

I had fantastic conversations with the interns and staff possessing such different personalities, perspectives, and experiences. While the topics varied from law and politics to the various approaches to environmental conservation, to religion and philosophy, I realized the theme which underlies each of them: justice.

Crag interns and Trailkeepers of Oregon volunteers helping to restore the Pacific Crest Trail

My time at Crag reaffirmed my interest in environmental lobbying, advocating for better policies to protect animals and the wild through building relationships and bringing people together in Washington D.C. I learned how complex the law is how important it is to fight to enact, enforce, defend, and improve upon them. Now more than ever, I am dedicated to identifying and implementing innovative policy solutions to climate change, deforestation, and wildlife preservation.

I want to thank everyone at Crag for making me feel so welcome and valued, especially my supervisor Suzanne Savell for her thoughtfulness and support. I really appreciated how much they helped fuel my curiosity and leverage my enthusiasm. I also want to thank DukeEngage for enabling me to have such a wonderful experience. Although my time at Crag has come to an end, my work to protect the environment has just begun. I’m very proud to have been a part of the Crag team and to have contributed to creating a more just world.

 

Elliott Davis

DukeEngage Intern – Summer 2018