On my first day as an intern for the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA), the first thing I noticed was the eye catching sculpture in front of the building. The sculpture is made up of four giant slabs of stone arranged in a circle with a poem inscribed on the inside faces. After working with the Agency for a few weeks, it dawned on me that the sculpture was a reflection of CalEPA itself and its relationship with the California government.
The first line of the poem reads “How shall I be the steward of this land. Have lightning at my disposal.” The Agency is like a steward of the land with a mission to protect the California environment and ensure that its citizens are healthy and safe. Because it is such a large regulatory body that has influence over several entities and is an adviser to the executive and legislative branch, it has a significant amount of responsibility. Some could even say its power is as impactful as lightning.
The poem is also inscribed in different angles and separated between all four of the slabs of stone. Just as the poem is not complete without looking at the full picture from different perspectives, the same is true for environmental policy. Without the consultation from all of the Agency’s smaller entities such as the Air Resources Board, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, and many others, their overarching policy frameworks would not be as well-rounded and comprehensive as they currently are.
Although the sculpture is reflective of the Agency, I have also found that it emulates how I would like to perform as an intern for the summer and hopefully as a professional after I graduate. Just like the many alumni from UC Berkeley, I hope to always do what I can to make my community a better place. If I have the chance to wield as much authority as lightning, I hope to use it wisely and for the greater good.
As laws are constantly debated and passed in the legislature and orders are given in the Governor’s office, agencies such as CalEPA have a much more subtle, yet important, duty. As the environmental culture of California continues to grow in these arenas, it is up to CalEPA to ensure all of the goals and policies that have been set actually come to fruition. The poem inscribed in the sculpture’s stone is entitled “Also Blossoming.” As I learn more about how important it is for the state to grow from the creation of new laws and orders, I also realize it is equally important for the state to blossom as the policies are implemented and regulated. I hope by the end of this summer internship and my time at Cal, I will have been exposed to the intricate processes of public service and governance that will help me not only grow, but also blossom.
Carli Yoro is a UC Berkeley senior studying environmental economics and policy. She is interning at the California Environmental Protection Agency as a Cal-in-Sacramento Fellow.