Finding Success Through Advocacy
Currently Aja is the office and programs coordinator at the Global Justice Ecology Project in Hinesburg, Vermont. She received her BA in Environmental Studies and Anthropology from Marlboro College in 2007.
How did you get started working in environmental justice?
“My current work with Global Justice Ecology Project has really helped me define the term environmental justice. Our organization attempts to analyze the interconnected root causes of social injustice, economic domination, and environmental destruction and how one feeds the other in this capitalistic and corporate-run society. At GJEP we help indigenous groups that are directly affected by climate change and globalization get their voices heard at UN Climate Conferences, forums, and through various forms of progressive and mainstream media.”
What is one of your big successes?
“At the 2009 UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen we had a huge success. While the Copenhagen Accord was a big failure, our organization succeeded in bringing widespread media attention to the struggles of indigenous peoples around the world. We aided in creating the space for them at the global table during the convention and set up interviews and press conferences.”
“A personal success of mine, with the help of the advocacy program, has been the ability to see how many different ways a person can be an activist in this world and embrace myself as one of them.”
How did AUNE prepare you for life after graduate school?
“The advocacy program helped me feel comfortable calling myself an advocate in professional terms and finding the confidence to address the issues that I care about in a holistic and integrated way. I gained a solid grasp of the underlying concepts behind corporate power and globalization as well as an in-depth understanding of the history of the environmental movement. The program provided an opportunity to engage in real-world scenarios by working with non-profits and grassroots groups through the advocacy clinic.”
“AUNE’s principles of social justice and sustainability were woven into every course, project, and discussion and were made accessible in the classroom. These principles are completely relevant to what the world needs more than anything and what needs to be addressed in every job sector.”
What is the biggest challenge you face?
“My greatest challenge in working with the social and environmental justice movement has been looking at these issues in an objective enough way to keep from being overwhelmed by the weight of the world, while continuing to be a compassionate person moved by the heart and always empowered to take a stand.”