Bridget O’Brien ’22, Learns About Intentionality, Organizational Integrity, and the Justice System at Crag Law Center in Portland, OR.

Oregon’s beloved Mt. Hood, named the second most climbed mountain on the globe, hosts millions of hikers, climbers, skiers, and environmental enthusiasts every year. Its signature mountain landscape can be seen from the Portland horizon- where I am from. The extraordinary mountain is a home to a variety of wildlife, including elk, cougars, Coho salmon, and many other wild species. Keeping this biodiverse resource thriving is a priority for most Oregonian and Washingtonians. In 2001, environmental nonprofit, Crag Law Center began its journey protecting the Mt. Hood wilderness lands, and has succeeded in many milestones, including ushering in the Public Lands Management Act through Congress and onto former President Obama’s desk in 2009. Despite the landmark victories, Crag is likely to continue fighting for the protection of these lands in years to come- that’s over 20 years of legal battle. The wheels of justice are slow moving and oftentimes monotonous, however Crag’s attorneys are committed to their value of fighting for public lands such as the Mt. Hood Wilderness. 

My name is Bridget O’Brien and this summer at Crag Law Center, an environmental public interest law center in Portland, OR, I was privileged with the task of showcasing Crag’s legal successes on their website- such as Crag’s victories in the Mt. Hood Wilderness, one of my personal favorites. As Crag is a nonprofit, their website remains influential to attracting donors and spreading Crag’s message of environmental justice. Crag has been focused for the past decade on communicating their mission and values through social media platforms and their webpage to build their network of support, however there was no specific way they have deliberately shown their victories. Through online mediums of communication, Crag’s tight-knit communications team wanted to show the world how Crag’s values are being represented in their cases and how they are lawyers who not only represent their clients, but advocate for the people. 

Crag takes on cases many everyday citizens overlook and have fought for the public, wildlife, and climate behind the scenes for decades. From revolutionizing Mt. Hood land-use laws to ending fossil fuel development in Western Washington to halting commercial logging in our very own Blues Mountain range, Crag has influenced the PNW in many ways, visible and invisible. Broadcasting Crag’s court victories on the website and social media ended up being a summer-long endeavor. Our small communications team collaborates to find an innovative platform and uniform message to present. We came up with a new menu item on their website entitled “Victories”. Crag’s multitude of cases that they’ve won is divided up into three categories: Climate Victories, Communities Victories, and Wild Victories. These categories alone show the breadth and depth of Crag’s legal efforts to make a more equitable environment. Crag has represented more than 150 clients including Native American tribes, local farmers, and other environmentalist organizations around the PNW and Alaska. 

I have learned a lot about intentionality, organizational integrity, and our justice system, simultaneously increasing my writing skills everyday. I honestly cannot say enough wonderful things about Crag Law Center- the staff, their clients, and their legal efforts for the environment. The integrity and passion for environmental justice of the leadership at this organization subverted many initial expectations about law and environmentalism. My internship experience at Crag Law Center has been integral to developing my worldview. While zoom meetings and all the unforeseen coronavirus-related challenges, I still have been able to immerse myself in a workplace environment.

 (Caption: Crag’s Communications team often uses zoom screen share to collaborate about the different projects we are working on.)

(Caption: Cooper spur is a delicate piece of land on Mt. Hood, its watersheds provide water for much of Oregon)

 


Experiences like Bridget’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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