Tuesday, 15 Oct 2002

ROXBURY, Mass.

Today, I made it into the office at 8:30 a.m. This gave me a few minutes to attempt to schedule my day, including making some time to write this piece for Grist. Usually when I get in I play a CD to get me in the right mood, but I can’t think of one I want to listen to this morning. I often smudge sage when I get into the office, but there have been complaints lately, so I’ll save it for when I get really stressed. Because I am in early, I have enough time to sync my Palm Pilot before my first meeting of the day — a staff meeting in half an hour.

There are some really nice things about working at ACE. We are a real family in many ways. We eat lunch together every day, which forces people to stop working and de-stress for at least a little while. We sometimes talk about work but often the topics range from new babies (ACE has two and one on the way) to politics to the latest episode of Will and Grace. I’m always left out of those last conversations, because I’ve never seen a single episode. My TV viewing is dictated by my seven-year-old son, Padraig. Otherwise, I never remember to turn the thing on.

This family atmosphere extends to our staff meetings. Our regularly scheduled Tuesday morning meeting usually consists of a calendar check — what’s going on this week for everyone? — and a discussion of important staff issues. We rotate bringing breakfast for the entire staff, which calls for some creativity because we now have two vegetarians and a vegan on staff. I’m learning a lot about vegan cooking in this process. I don’t think I’ll ever be vegan, but I love a cooking challenge. My turn’s not until November. That’s a good thing.

Today’s staff discussion was about the Second National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit, of course. Although we’ve been planning to go for a long time, there is still a lot of work to be done internally — assignments, scheduling, all of those things. The environmental justice networks coordinator and I have to do our final scheduling for the bus and hotel. Hopefully, this will be accomplished by the end of the day. It looks like four out of the 10 ACE staff will be pretty busy for most of the summit. No one is saying the word “sniper” too loudly, but I think we’ll be spending a lot of time in the hotel. Because we are taking our youth interns with us, we also need to arrange for parental permission forms and school credit. They’ve been looking forward to this since their annual youth summit last July. They and other youth from the Northeast worked on the draft of a document of youth environmental justice principles. It was a lot of work and we’re very proud of what they did. I can’t wait to see them shine at the summit.

My own summit responsibilities are really adding up. I have to email the description of the workshop, which is still only half written despite my best efforts yesterday. Today is also the beginning of layout day for me on the Northeast Environmental Justice Network newsletter. The articles are done, but once I get them into the newsletter template, I’ll have a better idea of what I’ll still need to do to have a complete newsletter. I’m still hoping for more articles to arrive from Connecticut. They should be a reasonable length and it won’t take much to type them in. So far we are still on schedule. Not bad.

Tuesdays are my short days. I usually leave around 4 p.m. to take Padraig to his guitar lesson. It’s only a 16-mile trip, but it takes 40 minutes in the late afternoon. Lately, the school bus has arrived a half-hour to 40 minutes late, so today I’m going to pick Padraig up from school. This means we’ll get to the lesson on time, but it also means I have to leave work an hour early. That will cut my day short by an hour. What can you do? Today also includes Padraig’s once-a-week treat: a trip to either Burger King or McDonald’s. My mother-in-law, who is in town for a visit, will probably come with us. She has been recovering from three days of walking her feet off and taking public transit; I didn’t realize before she got here how little we rely on our car. She’s doing pretty well for a 75-year old with a replacement knee visiting Boston for the first time.