13 April 2020

Chaotic Times, Adaptive Planning, Supportive People

Written by: Super User

One of the most common ice breakers I have come across is, “please describe yourself in three words.”

At the start of this fellowship, I am not sure I would have the same answer as I do right now, but I would say, without hesitation, chaotic, adaptive, and supportive.


My name is Allen Cardenas and I am the Hydropower and Outdoor Recreation Fellow for the National Park Service in the Seattle Regional Office. I am here thanks to the support of the Hispanic Access foundation. I am just over two months in, but feel like I’ve already had a year’s worth of experience. Much like myself, it has been a chaotic yet adaptive and supportive experience, but I really can’t imagine a better fitting environment.

Some describe me and even my work style as planned happenstance while others have say it is joyous chaotic energy. However, I prefer “adventure seeker.” Starting this position came with the natural chaos that comes with any new adventure: remembering names, understanding a new role, and finding a groove. Shockingly, just a month in, most of the world and I had to learn how to live in the unprecedented chaos of pandemic. This is not so much and adventure but rather a shared traumatic experience. Suspended in disbelief, my fellow adventurers and I needed to learn how to navigate this new reality.

One of the first ways our work was disrupted was the cancellation of our Fellows Skills Share. My co-Fellows here in Seattle and Portland decided to meet for a day of teaching each other skills we have developed in our fellowship and beyond. Just days before, we were forced to cancel and quickly adjust. Not wanting our work to go to waste, we went virtual. Tory showed us how to make renderings in Photoshop while Lucy went into detail about community health plans. Erik taught us some of the finer points of GIS and I lead a discussion on community outreach and conducting in-person interviews.

The skills share went far better than we could have thought. However, this is just one example of several I can pick which demonstrates the adaptability and supportive nature of the people I work with. My collogues in office, the brilliant fellows I’ve met, and the Hispanic Access Foundation staff have all been the support system needed to succeed in the work I am doing.

I kept putting off writing my first blog until I felt “accustomed” to my new job, but I realized that it might always be changing. Upon this realization, I saw the connection between chaos, adaptability, and support with myself, my job, and work community.

There is a natural chaotic energy inside of me which allows me to adjust easily. However, I am unable to be successful without the right support system around me. My collogues inspire me to be supportive like them and challenge me to be that better person.

Written by Allen Cardenas, a Hydropower and Outdoor Recreation Fellow in the Seattle Regional Office.

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