By Maggie Brunk ‘12
Headwaters Foundation for Justice has its offices on 21st Avenue, right off Lake Street. The building, an eco-friendly complex, houses a variety of environmental and social justice organizations. Several blocks from Headwaters, on the intersection of South 28th Avenue and East Lake Street, a public library with large glass windows and a certain familiar elegance stands in stark contrast to the pawnshop across the street with its gaudy blue sign. Driving to Headwaters on a Friday morning several weeks ago, I saw fire trucks and police cars surrounding a building; the smoke was thick, but the flamesweregone. The last fire I saw was in rural Wisconsin when my neighbor’s bar nburned down. When I read the Star Tribune the next day, I learned that three children and three adults were killed in the fire.
“My internship with Headwaters…has also acquainted me with parts of the Twin Cities that I would not otherwise have seen—an alternative high school in North Minneapolis, Rondo neighborhood in St. Paul, MayDay Café in Powderhorn Park.”
I was in Minneapolis by chance over winter break when I was called for an interview with Headwaters for the writing and marketing intern position. I ac- cepted immediately, eager for a writing internship that would involve work with a non-profit. Headwaters Foundation for Justice is a philan- thropic organization that gives grants to small grassroots organizations in the Twin Cities. As a human rights concentrator and an English major, an internship gave me access to the world of non-profits that seems so distant from everyday life at Macales- ter and an opportunity to write for a specificaudience. Onmyfirstday, my supervisor told me to write a press release for the NCRP event. Back at my desk, I googled “NCRP” in a panic: “National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy.” Oh of course, I thought, defending my igno- rance with sarcasm. It dawned on me that this internship would con- nect me to the Twin Cities and to the outside world in general. Intern- ships fill in the details of reality that college overlooks. Later in the week, I read Headwaters’ donor profiles, amazed at the number of small non-profit organizations in Minneapolis and St. Paul, some of which I recognized (the Ananya Dance Theatre, for example) and some of which were completely new to me (such as All Parks Alliance for Change, an organization defending residents of mobile home parks).
My internship with Headwaters has given me an opportunity to learn about the logistics of non-profit or- ganizations and the structure of grassroots community advocacy. It has also acquainted me with parts of the Twin Cities that I would not otherwise have seen—an alternative high school in North Minneapolis, Rondo neighborhood in St. Paul, MayDay Café in Powderhorn Park. While the press releases and grantee profiles I have written can be placed in a portfolio and experience with Windows Movie Maker and Constant Contact can be listed on a résumé, my personal discovery of the chal- lenges facing communities in the Twin Cities and the non-profits working to help these communities has been equally valuable.