Late summer in 2010, fresh out of college and the world at my doorstep, I marched into EPN’s office. I had just finished school and finally understood what I wanted to do in the world.  A fire had been lit. I had the knowledge of the issues that were facing our planet and felt a “burning” responsibility to be a part of the solution. The day I met Joshua, a new journey began. I had chills leaving our interview.

Volunteering for the Environmental Paper Network was all I could talk about to anyone after that. Over the next six months, I looked forward to every Wednesday when I could dive in to the center of environmentalism, and take a break from tending bar.

Early 2011, I became the Membership Coordinator for EPN. What I have gained from my experience here has launched me into a world of professionalism, deep humility, and a level of personal satisfaction I was unaware existed before.

Aside from gaining a multitude of skills to add to my resume, I have learned so much about the world of activism. How it has gone from passionately  protesting the devastating problems to advocating solutions for them. How those passionate protestors have gone from young visionaries to the leaders that get the changes implemented. Our network of hippies-turned-lawyers, travelers-turned-politicians and interns-turned-executives surrounds me with inspiration. I know now that the change comes from within the infrastructure, and I feel like I have my finger on the pulse. Of course there’s always room to grow, but I can more intelligently speak about these issues, thanks to the Environmental Paper Network.

Speaking of being surrounded, I have also become incredibly humbled aside all of my colleagues. It’s like they say…“The more you learn, the less you know.” The blood and guts that have been poured into this movement astounds me. I remember priding myself as a kid on my desire to be an environmentalist. I loved the trees more than the next guy, as I’m sure most of my comrades did. Now, I simply look up in admiration. Each person in this line of work has desire. It’ s the only force that keeps you going when there is no money, barely a voice, and little respect from the rest of the world often blinded from the truth. I no longer feel pride that I am more passionate than the rest, rather I feel pride to be learning from such an amazing group of brilliant and driven people.

Because of that opportunity, I love going to work every day. I love telling people that I’m doing something I really love. I get an incredible sense of satisfaction that my career is one that contributes to, what I believe is, a revolution! I’ve generally always been a happy person. But this new found gratitude has more strongly created my foundation. I never knew I could be this content.

As I move on to Dogwood Alliance full-time, I will continue to be a part of the EPN. I intend on staying connected to everyone’s work and joining in on calls. I hope to still come to the meetings, which have so much impacted my life. I am constantly inspired and in awe of the work that we as a network do, individually and together. I know Kim and Joshua are happy for my professional growth. I will always be grateful to them for the opportunity to step into this world alongside them. I have truly enjoyed these last three and a half years, and look forward to the future with such a beautiful beginning under my belt.

 

Cheers!

Suzanna Baum

Membership Coordinator,

Environmental Paper Network