How Does the Internet Work? And Other Thoughts on Resilience Corps Orientation
Updated: Mar 5
Will Parker, Outreach Fellow, gives an account of the Resilience Corps Orientation.
When I tell people that I am serving with AmeriCorps, I usually explain that, no, I’m not breaking rocks or building literal bridges. As part of the first-ever Resilience Corps cohort, I’m helping in a more measured, strategic way to make the Portland area better for everyone who works, lives and plays here. And I’m learning heaps along the way about the region and about what it takes to keep a community moving through a painful time towards a brighter, more equitable future.
The 14 of us that make up the Resilience Corps are each here for different reasons. Many of us are recent college graduates, looking to plug into community. Others of us have already started careers or families but see that this is a critical moment to give back to the world. Some of us grew up in Southern Maine and feel a duty to our home, while others are moving to Maine for the first time in our lives to discover a new corner of the world. Some of us can’t tell our life stories without service, while others are compelled by this moment to make our first foray into service. We’re united, however, by a desire to learn from the communities that exist here and help them emerge stronger from the current crisis.
Resilience Corps began with a bang on Zoom. Our first week was packed with presentations from every corner of GPCOG, on storytelling or climate action planning or broadband. To have these broad spheres of GPCOG’s work presented to us one after the other was like riding a roller coaster. There were incredibly exciting moments, like when we heard from the sustainability wing of GPCOG. It’s working to keep our world stable and clean in ways I’d never even thought of. There were somber moments, too, like when we heard about the challenges faced by people experiencing homelessness in the region. Comedic relief came, too. We heard a dense 30-minute presentation about broadband internet access, after which I had to meekly ask how the internet works. (Seriously, do you know??)
Having 14 fellows working on distinct issues drives home a lesson from orientation: you can’t be too siloed when it comes to building resilience, because there is no single answer to the challenges that the Greater Portland region faces. Resilience is a complex network, not a war chest or a panacea. While each of us becomes experts in the issues we’re working directly on, we’re also here to be amateurs at everything, constantly listening to voices from other spheres that have a layer of complexity—and therefore resilience—to add to our work.
About Will Parker
Will is from Princeton, New Jersey, and has happily transplanted to Maine. You can generally find him on a bike somewhere, checking out mundane pieces of infrastructure. A recent graduate of Bowdoin College with a double major in Environmental Studies and Earth Science and a minor in History, Will is especially interested in transportation, justice and climate. He became interested in transportation planning after a cycling trip from New Haven, CT, to Bath, ME, which showed him some of the consequences of the way we live and move. During his junior year, he spent a semester in Freiburg, Germany, where he was inspired by the ubiquity of transit, bike and pedestrian infrastructure. While attending Bowdoin, he made occasional trips to Portland by bike, METRO or Amtrak and fell for the area. The Resilience Corps with GPCOG is the perfect way for Will to apply his transportation interests together with a place he loves!