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.)
For the past 6 years, multiple community organizations, spearheaded by DC Greens, in Washington, DC have worked together to host a day-long gardening forum called Rooting DC to educate residents about urban food production and consumption to cultivate health and protect the environment. It is a really wonderful resource for all those interested in learning more about gardening, composting, garden design, school gardens, fruit trees, organic pest management, seed saving, cooking with kids, and so on. This year, the conference organized workshops around five tracks: eat it (cooking and food preservation techniques), teach it (learn ways to share what you know with others), start it (gardening basics), grow it (advanced gardening skills), and the big picture (workshops about how gardening fits into the broader landscape).
In addition to all the workshops, Rooting DC also provides an opportunity for community organizations to table and offer information about the work that they are doing around gardening, food, health, justice, etc. This year, our project, Cultivating Intergenerational Leaders, had the opportunity to table and provide conference attendees with information about the summer program that we are planning and ways that interested people can become involved. It was an awesome opportunity to reach out to a ton of people (as more than 800 people registered!) and develop deeper relationships with other organizations with similar missions in the community. The conference gave me (Josephine) and Jeremiah an opportunity to discuss further with Sasha Bruce Youthwork and Beet Street Gardens what our partnership with the two organizations would look like to organize and run a summer program for youth around food justice issues. Continue reading →