Group dynamics are what make experiences more interesting to me. As I reflect on my experiences from this summer, what stood out the most to me about In My Backyard was the wonderful group of people I worked with. Although I am continuing with this internship along with some of these same people, the complete summer 2016 IMBY team is no longer together.
At the start of the internship when we all got to know each other and expressed why we were interested in this internship, each persons’ canvas started to liven up with the color of their individual experiences, personality traits, goals, desires and limitations. The overarching connecting trait of the cohort was a deep love and appreciation for nature and the desire to share that love with others. I was ecstatic with the prospect that I had a whole summer ahead of me with like-minded individuals.
Our group dynamic grew and flourished in the times that we spent out of the office. We visited a number of exhibits, including the Wing Luke Museum, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Burke Museum and the Mile Post 31 exhibit. As we soaked in the exhibits around us, I could tell that my fellow co-workers were sparking their own ideas for our pop up park. I enjoyed when we had the opportunities to get to know each other while navigating these new spaces and learning together as a group. As we learned about other cultures and people, we talked about our favorite National Parks, experiences in Seattle and beyond, and how we could incorporate into our own project what we had seen. These are the memories and experiences that I hold onto.
The times that our group dynamic flourished the most was during our two camping trips, one to Mount Rainer National Park and one to the North Cascades National Park. While working typically meant collaborating on outreach ideas, supporting each other on tasks and sharing our researched ideas, the type of work that we had to do on our camping trips had the biggest impact on me. We pushed the boundaries of what it means to work with someone through grocery shopping, long car rides, setting up camp, cooking, hiking and going to visitor centers. Each of our special skills came out when we had to work as a team and support teach other while on our hikes and when cooking our meals at the campsites.
On our final trip to the North Cascades, I woke up in the tent and decided to stretch my body and find an access point to the lake we were camping near. I walked down the road, through a sparsely inhabited campsite to a tiny shore of the lake. I stood there, in peaceful solitude, gazing at the reflections of the mountains on the lake, appreciating the sun on my face before it disappears for the winter, and smelling the natural smells around me. In the only moment of alone time from the whole trip, I had the space to reflect on my time in the North Cascades, my time with my IMBY cohort and what lies ahead. I cherished the moment I had by myself but began to miss my crew back at the campsite. I walked back feeling refreshed, rejuvenated and happy to find my cohort sitting around the table, with a muffin and coffee waiting for me.
–Dana, IMBY Summer 2016 Intern