Notes from Windward: #67
A First Impression
some initial thoughts from Adriann
I'm taking a semester off from college to do my internship at Windward. One reason is that I'm not feeling fulfilled at college. It is extremely intellectually rewarding, but I can't shake my dissatisfaction with how disconnected this intellectualization is from life. I want to get out and build projects that actually do something, not just sit in my room and read books and write papers. As stimulating as intellectual development is, it leaves me feeling unchallenged personally, emotionally, and spiritually. Perhaps the most important reason for taking time off, however, is my desire to focus my energy on somehow fighting climate change.
Because of the consuming and distracting nature of college, I hadn't really figured out what would happen before I got to Windward. I expected that once I arrived it would become apparent what I needed to spend my time doing. Windward had never hosted an intern in the dead of winter before, so the types of projects I could do were limited. One vision for the future of Windward is that it might evolve into a colony of artists, and as a studio art major I could test that idea. Another potential project was working on ideas about how Windward should be socially organized to meet the needs and interests of the younger people in the community. (I've very interested in gender, and so that may theoretically have prepared me for such an assignment.)
Actual arrival at Windward was so different from all of the abstract ideas above. Todd, Gina, and Walt are the full members on site right now, and I am the only intern, so getting to know them by moving in and spending large amounts of time together was intense, fascinating, and a little intimidating. I had the feeling that college wasn't preparing me for real life, but I still felt stupid when I got here and realized that I didn't have a clue about what I should do. I started taking a lot of notes and making diagrams in my sketchbook, and having long conversations with Walt. Since arriving I've also been able to meet and talk with other members of Windward's "Away Team" such as Amanda who just got back from studying in Portugal, and Karen who's busily creating the Sunnyside Co-op in Portland.
Other interns probably will have a less intense transition that I did, because they might have visited Windward before moving in, and because they will probably come with a team of other interns. Nonetheless, people should expect to feel some culture shock. I started out in the so-called "honeymoon phase". Everything was so fascinating, and I felt totally uncritical. I could imagine how the many exciting and varied projects would evolve to impact the future. I was very interested in all of the alternative-type ideas that were floating around. After about 3 days, I felt the need to spend some time alone, back off from learning more about how things worked here, and re-center myself. I also noticed the kinds of variations in my eating and sleeping patterns that are symptomatic of culture shock and consistent with my past experiences trying to adjust.
I alternated between being inspired and fascinated, and feeling out of place and alienated. Taking detailed notes of things I saw and talked with Walt about helped me keep track of things. Also, Jay was just up for a visit (she's a Windward apprentice from Portland who will be spending half of her week at Windward for the next months working on the biomass to methanol project) and her company and contrasting perspective has been much appreciated. I now have settled into something of a routine, and have more realistic, tangible ideas about what I want to spend my energy and time doing.
Notes From Windward - Index - Vol. 67