Healthy activism arrives at Eastern

Activist-in-Residence focuses on student wellness


Courtesy of Rowena Pineda

Rowena Pineda is the current Activist-in-Residence at EWU. Pineda was chosen because of her reputation as a community and public health activist.

By Sam Jackson, Copy Editor

For the first time, the Activist-in-Residence Program has recruited an activist instead of choosing from multiple applications of candidates. The topic of activism will emphasize health with this year’s activist—Rowena Pineda.

The Activist-in-Residence program has been at EWU for six years so far and was organized by the Women’s and Gender Studies program and the Women’s and Gender Education Center. The program brings a regional or local activist to campus to work with students, staff, faculty, Spokane and Cheney community members.

“(It is) to strengthen the commitment between community engagement to Eastern, Spokane and Cheney, and to help students learn skills to become more engaged on issues they care about within their communities,” Women’s and Gender Education Center Manager Lisa Logan said.

Our health depends on where we live, where we work, where we go to school, places where we worship, our access to food, our access to places to exercise. That all impacts our health.”

— Rowena Pineda, Activist-in-residence

A new activist in residence is chosen every winter quarter. In the past, the program has selected activists through a competitive application process, but last year’s students who attended the program expressed they were interested in health. This year, the program reached out directly to an activist and chose Pineda.

“We heard from the multiple people in the city of Spokane that Rowena is the person we want if we were focusing on health, because she has a long history of being an organizer and activist on things related to community and public health,” Logan said.

Pineda is a program manager at Spokane Regional Health District. There she leads Neighborhoods Matter, a program that “connects neighbors, promotes built environments that support positive interactions, and works to improve economic opportunities for all,” according to the SRHD website. Pineda also has experience working with other community organizations concentrating on social justice issues including: Idaho Community Action Network, Center for Third World Organizing, Parent Voices and People’s Action.

Pineda’s main goal as the Activist-in-Residence is to promote curiosity among students through her workshops and panels by analyzing health in a “very broad” sense. She says it affects every aspect of our lives and that the topic of health should not be limited to just health care and access to health care.

“Our health depends on where we live, where we work, where we go to school, places where we worship, our access to food, our access to places to exercise. That all impacts our health,” Pineda said. “It’s connecting with our neighbor, and having access to healthy food. Or if we look more upstream, having access to affordable housing. It’s all what makes for a healthy community.”

There will be six Activist-in-Residence events throughout winter quarter. Students, faculty, staff, and Spokane and Cheney community members are welcome to attend any of the events. Students that attend at least four of the events will receive a certificate recognizing their training for community engagement in activism.

The certificate can showcase student involvement and help students in the long term by showing that they care about their communities, according to Logan. Pineda will host a panel called Health is Political on Feb. 6.

During Feb. 13, 20  and March 6 the activist will showcase workshops focused on community engagement, health disparities and promoting policy change. All of these events will be held in Monroe 207 from 3:15 to 5 p.m.

On Feb. 27 there will be a field trip with the activist to the Spokane Regional Health District, where staff will demonstrate a tool they use to analyze policies in development and their potential impacts.

For more information on the program contact Logan by email at [email protected].•