Getting To Know You: The 2017 1000 Friends Summer Interns

Abbie Mann-Wood and Phil Longnecker
Thu, 07/27/2017 - 11:30am

Every summer, 1000 Friends of Oregon welcomes college interns to our office to work on special projects. One intern comes to us through Duke University and their DukeEngage program. The other is our Gerhardt intern, selected national pool of applicants to work with us in the loving memory of former 1000 Friends staffer Paul Gerhardt Jr..


 
Phil and Abbie grabbing a mini donut from Donut Byte Labs food cart...with their reusable water bottles. How Portland :)   

 

Meet our 2017 summer interns, Abbie Mann-Wood and Phil Longenecker. Abbie and Phil sat down together to get to know each other. Here is what they learned.
 

Abbie: Where are you from?
 

Phil: I'm from Grayslake, Illinois which is a suburb of Chicago, and I just graduated from Goshen College, a small liberal arts school in northern Indiana.
 

A: So that's a suburban area?
 

P: Definitely. In Chicago there's no nice urban growth boundaries. What about you, where are you from?
 

A: I’m from this tiny town in the middle of Wyoming called Lander: population 7,000. The closest mall is 2 ½ hours away. The next closest town is 30 minutes away and so we don’t have an urban growth boundary either.
 

P: So Abbie, what brought you to 1000 Friends?
 

A: I came here with a program called DukeEngage, where they send students across the world to do service work. The cool thing about it is that Duke actually pays for us, so 1000 Friends doesn’t have to provide any resources for me to be here. So that’s really nice. How it worked was that I applied to the Portland program with a focus in sustainability, and they then matched me with 1000 Friends as the group in Portland they thought would work best.

What about you?
 

P: Someone from Oregon who knows 1000 Friends forwarded the Gerhardt scholarship flyer to my professor at school, professor of environmental science, and he forwarded it to the department and I got the email and applied.
 

One of the things that attracted me to the research project this summer was the combination of environmental science and urban planning, which is where my interests are. I had done a mapping project last summer in Wisconsin, looking at the distributional equity of urban parks in Milwaukee County. So it seemed like this organization had a good fit for the project that I would end up working on this summer, which is on housing.

A: Oh, so had you ever been to Portland before?
 

P: Nope!

A: What do you think is the weirdest thing about Portlanders?
 

We walked past Voodoo Donuts.... And around the corner to 1000 Friends' preferred donut provider food cart. 

P: People’s obsession with food carts. It seems like everyone here has a favorite one somewhere in the city, with long, detailed opinions as to why theirs is the cheapest, the best, the most character etc, etc. And another thing - people seem to be divided by their donut affiliation. You’re either a Blue Star fan or on the Voodoo bandwagon. Why, what do you think is the weirdest thing about Portlanders?

 

A: For me, the weirdest thing has been a feeling that it’s really hard to describe, but easy to point to examples of. For example, when I was walking around at the Portland market the other day I saw a street performer playing the electric didgeridoo, and the people walking around the city are always sporting such unique personal styles - as opposed to the places you see where everyone is trying to match the latest trend. It feels like Portland is a lot less concerned with doing what’s expected, and more concerned with being unique. So, you already answered this a little bit but would you mind continuing to flesh out what you're working on currently?
 

P: Yeah. So basically my research is in regards to the residential infill project proposal. It's a proposal that city council, city planners and the city in general have been debating for the last year, and they came out with ten policy proposals to change the city’s zoning code to allow for more housing. I’m researching specifically one of those proposals, that essentially disallows narrow, or what they call “skinny” homes from being built in the city. My research is looking at the impacts of that ban on general affordability in certain neighborhoods, the environmental/land use consequences of disallowing this smaller type of home, and some of the social ramifications, like the ability for nonprofit home ownership groups to provide homes for people. And looking at policy recommendations to make narrow homes more aesthetically pleasing, because that's one of the main drivers to why they were banned in the first place.

Skinny houses in Portland captured by Phil as he examines local neighborhoods.

 

A: So city planners made some recommendations, and then amendments were made. Why again were narrow houses cut from the plan?
 

P: See that's the thing. Not a whole lot of good reasons other than people just don't like the way narrow houses look. Even though there are ways to change the building codes so that narrow homes can be built in such a way that they don’t destroy neighborhood character - which we think is the best way of going about doing it. It's a win-win, if you can make narrow homes look good and also use them as a way to provide more housing in the city. Anyway, what are you doing for 1000 Friends?
 

A: I’m working in the communications department. So I’m under Alyson and I’m helping to redesign and rewrite the website, because if you’ve ever been to Friends.org, it’s a little... crowded. So we are working on reorganizing and rewriting a lot of it, because there is a lot of writing that is long winded. On websites, and especially with younger generations, long winded writing is often just not read. So I started by reading through all the content on the website, and literally just reorganizing it because it’s hard to find things right now.
 

P: Any examples? What’s been the most interesting thing you’ve read so far?
 

A: Honestly I would say that the most interesting thing wasn't one single piece, it was more the incredible breadth of all the pieces together. Land use, and as an extension 1000 Friends, encompasses a huge number of things, and seeing just how diverse and complicated the issues are was incredibly interesting to someone who had little concept of what land use even was going in. But if I had to pick one thing, it would be the Land Use Trail that was published a couple of years back. It was a project that highlighted forty different areas within Oregon that had been significant in Land Use, and it was both interesting in that it exemplified how diverse land use is, and also a useful tool for someone new to Oregon! So what are you planning on doing with your, you know, life, after graduation?

 

P: Well the plan right now is, in the fall I'll be moving to Minneapolis to work with the Minnesota Greencorps for a year. Which is basically a Minnesota based Americorps program for environmental work. It's a year long fellowship, so that's what I'll be doing next year. And after that I don't know, but eventually I'd like to return to school and get a masters in urban planning.... So where are you going?

 

A: Back to school, to try and figure out what I want to do. This experience though, has actually helped me a lot because it’s my first time ever actually being in the “real world,” and I’m realizing how many more options there are - like in this office there are 10 people who only do land-use planning and then within DukeEngage there’s 12 of us interns all doing sustainability work but the work is so diverse - there are just so many ways you be involved. So it’s given me a lot more hope that even if I don’t know what I’m going to be doing or where I end up there’s something to be done and work to do.

 

P: I feel the same. For me, being at 1000 Friends has opened my eyes to the valuable work that nonprofits do, and because I’ve had such a positive experience here I can definitely see myself wanting to pursue work in the nonprofit world later in life.  

 

A: So all positive work experiences, what about outside of 1000 Friends? What has been your favorite experience out in Portland?

 

P: Favorite experience in Portland so far. I think my favorite experience in Portland so far has been going to  a Portland Timbers/Seattle Sounders soccer game. It was a lot of fun, as a Chicago Fire fan, to witness the great west coast rivalry. That was probably my favorite experience. Even though I've only lived in Portland for a little bit, I definitely joined in on the jeers against Seattle. It was fun to take part in that.

 

A: For me - and this is such a typical, ‘small town girl comes to the big city’ thing to do - but I was hanging out with my friend in the dorm and I was like, “Hey we’re bored, let’s go to a movie.” Where I’m from, there’s one movie theater that shows one movie every two weeks at 8 o’clock at night, and it was 10 o’clock at night - so I was like oh my gosh we can see a movie at 10pm! So we went and watched the movie, and afterwards we were both hungry, and we happened upon this tiny restaurant in the middle of downtown Portland that was blasting Kendrick Lamar’s new album. The friend I’m with is a huge fan of Kendrick Lamar and so obviously we had to go in there for dinner. And so it was midnight, we were eating dinner at this Vietnamese restaurant in downtown Portland and I said to myself, “Wow, so this is what the city is.” And that was probably my favorite experience so far.

 

A: What about out of Portland though? What was your favorite experience in Oregon?

Phil captures a breathtaking view of the Columbia River Gorge.

P: So I went with some friends on a hiking trip in the gorge, and it was, I think it was called Eagle Creek. We originally planned for a seven mile hike to Tunnel Falls, and we made it to Tunnel Falls and we were feeling good so we thought we would add on a little bit more hiking. But we took a wrong turn, and we ended up doing another ten mile trail that we thought was only three miles. So it was a seventeen mile day of hiking that was so much fun, but I was super sore and tired afterwards. It was awesome.

 

A: Seventeen miles, that's a huge day.

 

P: It was basically hiking from eight thirty in the morning to five at night with not very many breaks.

 

A: I'm impressed that you took a wrong turn and still made it back to your car. I am really bad at getting around when I'm lost.

 

P: Yeah, luckily we had enough people that knew what they were doing that I didn't have to rely on my own ability. What’s been your favorite experience out in greater Oregon?

Abbie finds a stunning respite at Opal Creek

 

A: My favorite experience outside Portland is pretty similar - we were hiking. I was with the DukeEngage group and we went to this place called Opal Creek, which is gorgeous. It has this natural swimming hole with cliffs you could jump off of. So we all jumped off a cliff into the water which was amazing and beautiful. Especially for me, being in the city is great but it can be really stressful sometimes because there’s people everywhere, all the time. So getting to disconnect and go back out into nature was awesome.