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Sustainability Internship Alumni Profile: Cameron Herrington
Sustainability Internship Alumni Profile: Cameron Herrington

While pursuing his Master of Urban Studies at Portland State University, Cameron Herrington took on a series of class projects and sustainability-related internships that led to a full-time job with local nonprofit Living Cully, where he works to expand access to affordable housing and prevent the displacement of residents threatened by rapidly increasing housing costs.

Alumni Stats

  • PSU degree: Master of Urban Studies
  • Graduation year: 2016 expected
  • Current position: Anti-Displacement Coordinator, Living Cully
  • Work-relevant experience while attending PSU:
    • Sustainability Internship Program: Anti-Displacement Program Intern, Living Cully
    • Community Watershed Stewardship Program Intern, Portland Bureau of Environmental Services
    • Communications Manager, Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods

Alumni Q&A

What does your current role as Anti-Displacement Coordinator with Living Cully entail?

The city of Portland has a long history of displacing communities of color and low-income families from their homes and their neighborhoods. My work with Living Cully is focused on preventing further displacement as housing costs continue to soar, and on creating more opportunities for affordable housing.

While my work is focused on the Cully neighborhood, we are very committed to working in coalition with allies across the city to make sure that people of all races and income levels have housing choice and stability in all of our neighborhoods.

Part of my job is focused on concrete projects to create more affordable housing in Cully, and the other part is focused on policy advocacy through coalition efforts at the citywide level.

Why do you think this is important work?

If we don’t make affordable housing and anti-displacement a core priority in Portland, the city will grow more exclusive. Low-income people and people of color will continue to be pushed out of the city. This cycle of gentrification and displacement is entirely predictable. But it is NOT inevitable. It can be stopped, and we can have development and growth that is controlled by communities, and that create more opportunities for people to live and thrive in the neighborhoods of their choice. That will take bold decisions, creative solutions, and grassroots political action.

What did you do as a sustainability intern at PSU, and what skills, knowledge, or insight did this experience provide?

As an intern, I worked for Living Cully at the very initial stages of its anti-displacement efforts. I am very fortunate that I have been able to continue that same work as a full-time employee. I have learned not only about the specific tools and strategies that can be used to expand access to affordable housing, but also about working in coalitions and partnerships to achieve our shared goals.

What experiences did you have while you were a student at Portland State that helped you succeed in your current career? 

The knowledge that I draw upon to carry out my work with Living Cully came from my coursework and my professors in the urban studies program at PSU. Many of the partners and allies I work with throughout the city are people I initially met while I was in school, through various research projects, and through an earlier internship at the Bureau of Environmental Services.

What advise would you give to a student interested in pursuing a career in social and environmental justice?

Find out what projects are being done by community-based organizations, and ask how you can help.