On a rainy Saturday, November 19th, 2016 many organizations in the Western Addition came together to offer Thanksgiving to residents and families. The lunch included a program with youth from Handful Players, the Western Addition Beacon, Booker T. Washington Community Center, Hayward Reconnect, and the Buchanan YMCA, as well as the SGI Chorus.
Safeway, Bi-Rite Market, Santa Clara Natural Organic and Mo’Magic also provided delicious turkey, sweet potatoes, macaroni and cheese, salad and cornbread, as well as pumpkin pie and chocolate cake. CommunityGrows BEETS helped out serving food and greeted folks at the door. At the end of lunch 30 turkeys were raffled off to lucky residents. Here is Ms. Jeanette Dupas-Walker, an active grandmother of youth at John Muir.It was a very homey day with many long time friends and partners. Happy Thanksgiving everyone! For more photos, check out our Flickr Photostream here.
On Saturday November 5, 2016 CommunityGrows held a workday in Koshland Garden to celebrate our partnership with Avila & Associates, and Friends of the Urban Forest (FUF). Avila and Associates provides provides civil engineering, environmental services, and water resources engineering services to public agencies at the federal, state and local level; private property owners; civil engineering professionals and other professional service firms. One of the many environmental services they provide is field surveys and regulatory reporting. Leanne Feely-Botanist, Sarah Flaherty-Wildlife Biologist, and Rachel Spadafore-Ecologist/Senior Project Manager, all participants in the workday, do this research. They talked with many of the BEETS about what they do and how they are working to save different endangered species. Here they are with volunteer Janine Kaiser. The morning started with introductions and welcomes from staff members Jay Jordan, Garden Educator, and Melissa Tang, BEETS Program Manager. Then people commenced to flipping compost, trellising peas, weeding the mustard and strawberry beds, collecting leek seeds, thinning radishes and preparing bed for the BEETS to plant starts. Lots of Jerusalem Artichokes, onions, collards, kale and herbs were also harvested. Sarah Penney-CommunityGrows Advisory Board member, Emily Danford-CommunityGrows office/communications volunteer, and three wonderful students from University High School (Judith Edwards, Joley Costa, and Nicole Cuthbert) also helped out in the garden. At 1:00 PM the volunteers were joined by a group of youth from Friends of the Urban Forest, who led a workshop in pruning trees. Alex Javier, Education Coordinator for FUF, talked about the essentials of pruning and tree care, the types of cuts to make, proper pruning techniques, and equipment safety. Then the youth went off to the orchard to trim back and prune the fruit trees. It was an amazing workday with lots of knowledge gained about the environmental field and how to care for the earth through the pruning of trees. Thank you Avila & Associate and Friends of the Urban Forest for a very engaging and worthwhile day. For more photos, check out our Flickr Photostream here.
On Saturday, October 29, 2016 CommunityGrows hosted the second Bay Area Youth Summit for organizations working on issues of environmental justice at City Slicker Farms. Groups included Literacy for Environmental Justice and Nature’s Voices, as well as the CommunityGrows BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens). After the great rain the few days before, the farm was blooming and green. The morning started off with an opening circle, introductions and an icebreaker. Rodney Spencer, Executive Director of City Slicker Farms led a tour around the farm and there was lots to see.
The youth got to sample what was cooking in the garden that day, which was braised chard and bean soup, and sauteed chard in miso garlic sauce.Brandi Mack, of the Black Permaculture network lead a discussion and exploration about the sacredness of the earth and how we need to protect it for future generations. Here is Brandi with her daughter Isis.Youth participants talked about what they are committed to and how they hope to make a difference in the world. A great lunch prepared by CommunityGrows Cooking Coordinator, Crystal Jones, included hummus wraps and homemade pasta, as well as apple slices. In the afternoon the youth attended different workshops. One led by Susan Silber of Nature’s Voices had youth documenting their views on how they would like to help and encourage environmental justice. Some students drew maps while others told stories and took photos and videos. Another workshop led by Rodney Spencer of City Slicker Farms taught youth how to design and construct planter beds, while another workshop led by Ryan Tachibana, Restoration Technician and Community Programs Coordinator at Literacy for Environmental Justice, worked on propagation of starts.
At the closing circle everyone got to express their appreciations from the day. Thank you for all the great partners that participated and for allowing us to experience City Slicker Farms in West Oakland. For more photos from the day, check out our Flickr Photostream here.
On Saturday October 22, 2016 our new cohort of BEETS (Band of Environmentally Educated and Employable Teens) spent the day at Ft Miley/Lands End in San Francisco doing a ropes course from 9-4 PM. The event was hosted by the Pacific Leadership Institute of the Recreation, Parks, & Tourism Department of San Francisco State University. Our goal for the day was to have fun, learn something new about ourselves & others, challenge ourselves, and develop trust & teamwork skills. It was a great event to bond the new BEETS and get them ready for the rest of the year! The ropes course was a challenging outdoor personal development and team building activity which consisted of high and low elements, taking place on the ground and also in trees. The morning started out with team building and working together to solve problems. These fun activities were all intended to build trust and create team work. In the afternoon the teens got to use belays for safety when they were instructed carefully by the Ropes Course crew. Belaying refers to a variety of techniques climbers use to exert tension on a climbing rope so that a falling climber does not fall very far. A climbing partner typically applies tension at the other end of the rope whenever the climber is not moving, and removes the tension from the rope whenever the climber needs more rope to continue climbing. Here are some reflections of the day:
“Going from rope to rope felt like me taking a risk in real life. It was there in front of me, but I was too scared to let go of my safety line. But I eventually did it and I hope I can do that in real life with my goals, as I was able to go farther when taking the next rope.”
“Before I would do mostly everything by myself because I believe that I can get by with anything without anyone. Today I learned that I actually need people to support me to keep going and friends to help me reach the goal.”
“Today’s course taught me that we should never give up and always face the challenges we will meet in our life…”It is hoped that the teens will keep talking about their experiences from the day and revisiting the learning they took away. Hopefully they will incorporate these experiences into their daily lives. For many more photos, check out our Flickr Photostream here.
The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission has partnered with the CommunityGrows for the third year in a row to support our BEETS Program! This year, the PUC is supporting us as we pilot an amazing project with Plaza East Apartments to build patio gardens for the residents and teach them about water conservation. We’re really excited about this project because it will give our BEETS valuable experience planning and executing a landscaping project while also creating more green spaces and vegetable gardens for the community. Thank you PUC!
Stay tuned for more!