The Nested Roles of a Resilience Corps Member
December 7, 2020
Casey Zorn, Sustainability Fellow
For anyone who has yet to hear about the Resilience Corps, I like to think of it as resilience in the form of Russian nesting dolls. We have the mamma nesting doll, the prestigious national AmeriCorps program that holds us all together. Then, one layer deep, we have the Greater Portland Council of Governments (GPCOG), a regional planning coalition that brilliantly imagined the Resilience Corps program. Another layer in, we have GPCOG partners and member municipalities. Then we have me, and thirteen other Resilience Corps Members. All of us are engaged in diverse, dynamic projects that feel at times very different, and yet all focus on the immense goal of increasing regional resilience.
My name is Casey, and I am an AmeriCorps Member, a GPCOG Resilience Corps Member, and a Sustainability Fellow with the City of Portland Office of Sustainability – all in one. For the past month, I have quickly acclimatized to each of my new roles and learned what it means to be a part of this inaugural group of Resilience Corps Fellows, while at the same time attempting to acclimatize to Portland, all while currently working remotely hundreds of miles away in New York. And though these first few weeks have been overwhelming, they have also opened my eyes to the transformation, hope and innovation pumping through the heart of this city and this Resilience Corps team.
I am serving with the City of Portland’s Office of Sustainability, one of GPCOG’s partners and member municipalities. In these first few weeks, I have taken a deep dive into Portland and Maine’s climate action plans, three of which came into action within my first month of service. Just before my tenure began, both Portland and South Portland adopted their joint climate action plan called One Climate Future, which has been the focus of my fellowship. For those of you who follow this project, I have taken on the role of developing and delivering the One Climate Future newsletter, which is a bi-weekly e-letter full of updates on the successes and next steps of One Climate Future. I am really excited to see what progress we can make with this plan over my 11-month service term. In addition to this newsletter, I also co-host many of the community workshops and office hours to support community understanding of the plan.
Outside of One Climate Future, I also support the ongoing efforts of the Portland Office of Sustainability that more tangibly affects day-to-day life. I sit in on council meetings, such as the Sustainability and Transportation Committee and the Pesticide Management Advisory Committee, where I support these teams by taking meeting minutes. Portland is in the middle of the rollout of a two-stage plastic straw ordinance, with the second stage in effect on January 1, 2021. I got to exercise my artistic and writing skills by creating the outreach materials and toolkits for businesses to utilize when the ban comes into effect. While I enjoy the innovative nature of One Climate Future, I feel most fulfilled by these more tangible tasks so integral to the success of local government.
I am also so excited to add Portlander and Mainer to my ever-growing list of nested titles, as I am officially moving to Portland this weekend. I believe this move will be integral to my ability to best serve our community. While I am here, feel free to call me by any of my titles: AmeriCorps Member, GPCOG teammate, member of the inaugural Resilience Corps Program, City of Portland Sustainability Fellow, One Climate Future Champion, Plastic Straw Ordinance Educator, Sustainability and Transportation Committee meeting minutes-taker (gosh, that one is a mouthful). Or, you know what? Just call me Casey. I look forward to working with you.
Casey grew up in Somers, New York. She later moved to Medford, Massachusetts, where she attended Tufts University and studied Environmental Engineering and English. Casey enjoys hiking and mountaineering, having summited mountains including Mt. Rainier and Mt. Kilimanjaro. She is very excited to hike Maine and New Hampshire’s local treks now that she lives in Portland. She also enjoys reading and writing short stories and poetry. Casey is excited about joining the Resilience Corps because this is an opportunity to have a tangible impact on environmental health and sustainability. She is also excited to learn about how government and nonprofit organizations function in order to create lasting change.