Goodbye from Kiera: A Reflection on Her Time at Clean AIr

Dear Clean Air Members and Supporters,

After an amazing summer interning at Clean Air, I return to Toronto with fond memories of my time in the office and out in the field, and a renewed determination to push for environmental justice in Buffalo and elsewhere. 

When I began my internship, it had been nearly two years since I had been involved in any sort of organizing beyond the occasional protest. Organizing felt out of reach for me: a stressed-out college student too busy to devote time and energy required for successful movement work. I thought that I would never have the opportunity to be on the frontlines of issues that I cared about. That was something that seasoned activists did, and I certainly wasn’t one of them.

Then, I stepped into Clean Air’s cozy office space for my internship orientation, and my world changed. I learned that organizing could mean more than a sisyphean struggle where a better future was always out of reach, it could be joyful, energizing, and inspiring. I could fight against those that hurt my community with my dreams of a new, just world as the fuel for change rather than its endpoint. More than anything, Clean Air reminded me that I wasn’t alone in the fight for environmental justice and health equity.

Through day-to-day office work, advocacy training, and tabling, I gained a practical skill set that emboldened me to expand my engagement with issues of pollution and climate change. Through my attendance at our Movement Resilience program, I was reminded that the inspiration for environmental justice comes from the beauty of nature. In that sense, I became part of a community of activists, Western New Yorkers, and earth-based organisms all drawing strength from one another to create the future we wanted to see.

It has truly been a wonderful experience interning at Clean Air this summer, and I would like to thank all of the community members and organizers, at Clean Air and otherwise, that made my time at the organization as meaningful as it was.

In solidarity,

Kiera Quinlivan

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