Diversity: why is it important to me?

By: Josephine Chu
Location: Washington, D.C.

This blog post is the first in a series about what diversity means to me.

Back in May, I had the awesome opportunity to participate in the Byron Fellowship. a week-long course in leadership and sustainable community development with a focus on place-based learning. When I initially found out about the fellowship in March, I was finishing my last semester for my MA in Global Environmental Politics at American University and was very excited by the prospect of being able to meet and connect with people from across the country and world working on sustainability issues from a variety of perspectives and fields. I was particularly intrigued by its focus on place-based learning as the DC program is working to create an intergenerational food justice curriculum, of which place-based learning is a key component.  I had heard and read a bit about place-based learning, but was not sure what it looked like in practice so was very curious to participate in a program that explicitly emphasized it. My understanding of place-based learning was learning that emphasized discovering the place and history of a community so that students can have a better understanding of their role in shaping it. One project that the DC program plans to do this summer is an oral history project to interview a host of people who have been deeply involved with growing food in DC to showcase their stories. (For those interested in learning more about about the many community gardens and gardeners in DC, the documentary A Community of Gardeners is a good film to check out.)

Byron workshop Continue reading

Neighbors Helping Neighbors

Location: Virginia

Just down 58, southwest of our humble Appalachia, is a small mountain community named Eagan. Home to dear friends like Vickie, Sam and Carol, Eagan boasts an amazing community center called the Clearfork Community Institute (CCI), where magical events bring the community together, even amidst local turmoil and the sometimes harsh realities of living in the mountains.

CCI and members of the community have started a new initiative called ACE: Appalachian Community Economics, out of an interest in pursuing creative ways to build an inter-generational local economy that doesn’t rely on coal or coal profits. Continue reading