Emma Patterson ’20, Brings Political Advocacy Around Reproductive Freedom at Whitman Campus with Planned Parenthood in Walla Walla, WA.

Hi! My name is Emma Patterson, I am a Senior Art History and Visual Culture Studies major. This year, I am working as the Community Outreach Intern for Planned Parenthood in Walla Walla. Walla Walla is a really unique place to do political advocacy, because it is a very purple town that has pretty solid dividing lines between different communities. Because there are really specific divisions between different communities, outreach has to look really different if you are looking to connect with more elderly folks, or students, or if you want to run a campaign that reaches as many different groups as possible. Because I am a member of one of those very specific communities (Whitman bubble what’s up!) I’m working quite a bit on Whitman’s campus, doing things like tabling, event planning, and other things that I know will tend to draw large numbers of folks here, and that may not work in other places in Walla Walla. A huge part of that on-campus work has been building the amazing Planned Parenthood Generation Action team, consisting of myself, Kaitlynne Jensen, Hailey Hansen, and Zoe Morris. Together, we focus on bringing political advocacy around reproductive freedom to campus, which can look like registering people to vote, educating them about the gag rule, or teaching about PrEP at World AIDS Day.

Another major issue we are looking towards on-campus: the census. Did you know that the census is going to be happening in April 2020? Do you know that the census is how 1.5 TRILLION dollars are allocated to different areas throughout the U.S.? Did you know that if an area is undercounted then they tend to receive less funding than is needed for things like schools, roads, and public services? Did you know that college campuses are often some of the most undercounted populations?!?! Now you know! A lot of my work this semester has been about learning the above factoids (and other fun things) about the census, so as it starts approaching we can do our best to educate those historically undercounted populations (low-income people, folks experiencing homelessness, college students, those who move often, communities of color, particularly latinx folks, rural populations) about what exactly the census is, and how to take it. Next semester, we’ll start doing some of the funnest work in the field of political advocacy: canvassing. There is nothing more fun than knocking on stranger’s doors and telling them about the census. Legitimately, it’s the best. No, really, I’m not being sarcastic! Walla Walla has some of the weirdest, funniest, and kindest people that I have ever met, and even if a canvas isn’t very successful, you will almost always walk away with a funny story. Now here is the surprise twist of this blog post: This is actually just an ad for you to read up about the census at wacensusalliance.org and participate in Planned Parenthood’s upcoming canvasses! Really guys, I promise, the census is super cool. Please fill out the census this April.

Experiences like Emma’s are made possible by the Whitman Internship Grant, which provides funding for students to participate in unpaid internships at both for-profit and non-profit organizations. To learn how you could secure a Whitman Internship Grant or host a Whitman intern at your organization, click here or contact Assistant Director for Internship Programs Mitzy Rodriguez


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