When I initially applied for the Athens’ Own internship I honestly had no idea what to expect. I had recently come home to Athens for Christmas break after a long semester at Tulane University and was looking forward to relaxing. Of course, this relaxation period included finding a summer internship, but that was the exciting part of my break; I was eager to reconnect with my hometown that I had dearly missed while in New Orleans. One morning after Christmas had passed, I decided to visit the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism page on the Ohio University website. As a communication major, I am always researching internships and opportunities in the Athens area, and was delighted to find an expansive and detailed list of internships currently available. The Athens’ Own internship immediately popped out at me. After scouring their webpages, I was even more thrilled. Athens’ Own is a local business focused on sustainability and resiliency, and as a public health major as well, I was familiar with these two concepts. The webpages promised that the Athens’ Own internship would differ from the typical internship experience and that learning would be inevitable. That was okay with me, as this internship opportunity bridged my passions for both journalism and public health, and I was eager to learn pertinent skills in both fields.
Later that week (today, in fact!) I finally met with Alyse, the internship coordinator for Athens’ Own. Though I had familiarized myself with their mission as best I could, I was still unsure of what to expect. We first talked about my qualifications and then began to delve into the values of Athens’ Own themselves. Alyse explained that Athens’ Own, besides focusing on creating a healthy society, was centered on supporting local businesses and creating a sense of community. Resiliency was a big part of this equation, and, as it turns out, my definition of resiliency was different than the one that they hold to be true. While resiliency is the ability to adapt to disaster or change, Alyse explained that Athens’ Own treats every day as if the disaster is happening NOW. In other words, Athens’ Own is ready for a disaster when it hits instead of reacting to it once it occurs, and they work to combat anthropogenic disasters and generate an informed community. There are multiple ways to do so, and one such way is to promote sustainability, or the ability to conserve a community’s opportunities and resources for future generations. By promoting local businesses and community involvement, and reducing, reusing, upcycling and recycling materials, Athens’ Own works every day towards this goal.
Fortunately, I got the opportunity to observe some of these practices in action. After I spoke with Alyse, we headed over to Jackie-O’s brewery, where I became acquainted with their “grain process” and met Constantine, the steward of Athens’ Own. Jackie-O’s, after using their grain to make beer, gives the spent grain to Athens’ Own to distribute to local businesses for compost and livestock food. Alyse even mentioned that some was used on Jackie-O’s pizza! I found it fascinating that every aspect of the grain’s life cycle is utilized to benefit locals and the environment at large. So far I am enjoying learning about their processes and I have met some great people. I still have much to learn and I can’t wait to work the Farmer’s Market and learn about the methods out in Steward. I only have two weeks before I head back to New Orleans, but I’ll soak up as much information as I can while I’m here.
– Emma Buchanan, Athens’ Own Intern