2017 Week Five: Food Access & the Environment
My favorite group returned for another canoeing program this week. The last time they came they managed to grasp paddling really quickly and were all very supportive and positive with each other so we got to do a lot of fun things with them like racing and exploring pretty far out. Their group had shuffled around a little bit, so there were some new faces. One of them was a kid named Yedidya, who asked me to be the second member of his boat.
He was around 8 but spoke in clear, frank sentences with the tone and complexity of a tired old man. He’d say “I need your sunscreen because I have very pale complexion,” and then in the same breath give me instructions on how much faster I should be paddling to get us to the front of the group.
Other than the regular programs, I made an annual report infographic for outdoor recreation, with information about all of the programs and little icons and pictures.
This week, no unifying theme presented itself to tie up my experiences into a neat package. So instead I’ll present some snapshots of things I’ve seen, for you to find some semblance of meaning in.
As I walked to work Monday morning, I saw a dad teaching his tiny daughter how to cross the street – it was the cutest thing EVER. On the next block, I watched a shirtless kid twerking on his friend’s doorstep, stopping in embarrassment when they saw me.
On Tuesday afternoon a 9-year-old girl named Cirby showed up at the farm and partly helped, mostly terrorized us while we attempted to fill bags with dried herbs. She was a member of the farm’s garden club and the staff all took it for granted that part of their role was to be an unofficial daycare service for neighborhood kids like her, even taking her to get a free slurpee at 7-Eleven. As overwhelming as she was, I liked her instant familiarity with everybody, because all her hair-pulling and throwing herself on people somehow made it feel like she trusted us.
Wednesday, I went to a farmer’s market to do market research for Boone Street and a young farmer fellow made a point to introduce himself to me. I tell you, never doubt the seductive power of a good pair of overalls!
Thursday morning, the police were outside my building. Over the course of the day, we learned of the tragedy that had occurred there, where a fellow student’s body had been found. Part of me couldn’t believe that something like that could happen in a safe place like my home, which feels like it’s a world away from the much rougher neighborhood that I work in. That day I stopped listening to my favorite true-crime podcast and took a different route to the bus stop.
Friday, life went on.
This week was filled with more learning experiences and a diverse set of tasks and objectives to complete, as well as some self reflection about the goals that I set for myself for this internship. The tasks completed this week included investigating how Baltimore Green Space can convince the city to prioritize forest care and preservation, reviewing a strategic plan for BGS that lays out a plan for growth over the next three years, helping the Duncan Street Garden in the Charm City Garden competition, and then continuing to visit community-managed open spaces to update our database.
I was instructed to look at plans that Baltimore City has for taking action on climate, sustainability, and disaster preparedness and see how their goals for these areas align or intersect with our goals on forest care and preservation. After going through four of the City’s plans, overall it seems like they’re focused on improving greenery in the city, but more so on sustainable development of buildings, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and resource conservation (which all great things to work towards, they just don’t directly coincide with forest preservation). For their strategic plan, BGS worked with an external company in order to plan out a course of action to take in order to grow and improve the organization, including establishing new committees, hiring new staff, settling down on a set of goals and visions for the organizations, and including plans for more vacation and bonding time between employees. And also, a few weeks ago I put in an application for the garden in order for it to be judged (on Mr. Sharpe’s behalf of course) based on how well the garden is managed and what the purpose and outreach of the garden is; they liked the garden so much that one of the judges wanted to come back and volunteer!
Still can’t believe we are over halfway through!
However, I definitely feel like I am integrated into the community of the clinic! The entire staff smiles at me, trusts me with projects and tasks, and even uses some of my ideas for fun events!
Earlier this week, a patient called asking for me. Another one of the volunteers, a little taken aback said, “This is a call for you, Jasmine.” I was a little surprised. Was I so much a part of the wellness center now that patients would call asking for me? The patient was responding to my call to book a massage appointment. I sat with him, Mr. T, at acupuncture circle earlier that week and see him at yoga every week as well. The next day, after his morning massage and nighttime yoga, he smiled at me and thanked me for the appointment. Seeing patients such as Mr. T walk into his massage with their mouth in a hard line, brows furrowed, shoulders tense, and walk out with noticeable relief in their shoulders shows me the important of wellness and self-care. Often, these practices are discredited in medicine, but I think they are an important part of medical care. This summer has truly emphasized that for me.
One of my goals for the summer was to make strong connections with some of the patients. With my frequent phone calls, participation in the classes, leading some of the cooking demos, and presence at the front desk, I have really been able to do that. Ready to do more in the coming weeks!