2021 Week 4: Environment & Food Access
I feel like my goals for the Summer have not changed because I purposefully kept them vague from the start. I feel like I have met all of my goals from orientation already too. I met lots of very interesting and passionate people that are guiding how I look at advocacy. I am in the process of learning what it takes to build community and with that, what I want my community to be. I love being a part of No Boundaries. It makes me happy to belong somewhere with so many other talented people. Additionally, the lessons I have learned about marketing and co-operative economics are skills I will take with me into whatever realm I enter next.
I want my next few weeks to be centralized around how I can ensure the events and checkpoints I have made for myself come to fruition. I organized a membership launch drive for the buying club this Saturday and it has turned into my baby of sorts. I feel a lot of responsibility and excitement about it since I wrote the programming and found the volunteers. I also feel responsible for everyone else’s success too, which may be a bit of a fault considering I do not have that much control.
Something I have realized and still need to work on internalizing is how to take what I do seriously, yet not tie myself to it like an anchor that holds me down even when I am not working. I have been really stressed and worried. My roommates tell me it is just a job and there is no need to go above and beyond, but I really care about what I am doing. I very badly want my work to have a real impact.
In my CIIP intern goal sheet, I wrote that my goal was to “start and finish a full project over the course of my internship so that I can see it all the way through. I also want to get more involved with the community, which I will be able to do by attending community meetings, meeting with similar organizations, attending programming events, and working on community-based communications and policy problems.” And frankly, I think I highly underestimated the work I would be doing! Even at this halfway point, I have started and finished so many different projects already, and have so many I’m continuing to work on. My internship keeps me working on a variety of different projects, some that are smaller and some that will stretch over the course of the summer.
My second goal, however, I feel is a more ongoing process. I recently attended my first Mobile Bike Shop where I was able to interact with the community, engaging with them about biking, bike repair, and Bikemore’s work. It was so lovely to be able to feel engaged with the community, to see people new and old who both recognized Bikemore and didn’t, and to be able to provide a service for them. I’m going to each subsequent Mobile Bike Shop in order to further my progress in this goal. I have also been able to conduct some Baltimore-wide research about street cuts that I will turn into digestible information for Bikemore’s followers. Being able to connect with different neighborhood presidents and councilmen has connected me directly with residents of different parts of Baltimore and their issues, allowing me to greater understand the Baltimore community. This summer, more than any other, I am feeling like an actual resident of Baltimore — I feel like it is truly my home, and I attribute part of this feeling to getting to know the community around me.
It’s crazy how quickly the past four weeks have flown by, meaning we are at the midpoint of CIIP. I definitely feel like I’m making significant progress on my original goals to learn more about urban agriculture, pay attention to how different people interact with the food system, and form relationships along the way. However, there has been one goal that I added after orientation I’ve been struggling with: to “bend our privilege towards justice,” a phrase which originated from Rev. Dr. Herber Brown III. During orientation, we all agreed that we should use our privilege and resources as Hopkins students for good, whenever possible. However, the question of sustainability becomes important. As a CIIP intern, I am only here for eight weeks, an incredibly short period of time in the grand scheme of things for an organization. The point of sustainability was illustrated to me when the Farm Alliance’s Zoom trial expired and I offered the Farm Alliance use of my premium university Zoom account. Mariya, the Executive Director of FAB appreciated but turned down the offer because after I leave, they will be left with the same problem again. In another instance, I offered to print some market guides at JHU’s Milton S. Eisenhower library because it was 3 cents cheaper per page to print than Fedex, but because I can only pay with J-cash, the process of reimbursing me would be difficult. Now every time I volunteer a resource, I first ask myself “does this create a cycle of dependency or is it actually helpful in the long run?” Later on in the internship when I was researching venues for a staff retreat, I refrained myself from seeing if I could reserve a space for the organization on campus, because how out of touch would it be to hold a retreat celebrating urban agriculture in a space of an elite institution not exactly grounded in similar values of community and collective power?
ROMINA ROJAS | JOY WELLNESS CENTER
One of my goals from the start of the summer included making meaningful connections within my CIIP placement at Joy Wellness. I’m happy with my progress towards this goal as I’ve loved getting to know my supervisor and those I work closely with on a daily basis. When we’re in-person at the center, our conversations range from weekly updates surrounding the clinic to talking about different stores and restaurants in Baltimore we should check out. Additionally, I’ve also been able to connect with some patients who regularly attend our programs and classes. There have been several times this summer where people who come to the wellness center have recognized my voice from doing all the reminder calls for our classes. By now, I’ve become familiar with the names and faces of those who come to Chair Yoga, Nutrition Class, and Yoga Nidra each week and look forward to seeing them. Overall, I’ve felt very welcomed and appreciated as an intern since the first week at Joy Wellness, and I have nothing but excitement for the rest of the summer.
Another one of my goals was to meet people and make new friends this summer. Through my peer mentor group, Bites of Baltimore sessions, and other CIIP events, this goal was pretty easy to achieve. I’ve really enjoyed bonding with my cohort through our reflection sessions, SandLot salsa nights, and Hampden trips. I know that getting to spend this quality time with my peers throughout the summer will be one of the most memorable parts of my CIIP experience, especially after several long months of pandemic restrictions and social distancing.
Lastly, I have added another goal to my list that I’ve been working towards this summer, which is to prioritize fitness, nutrition, and overall wellness. So far, I’ve made a lot of progress by expanding my cooking skills, going to the gym consistently, and implementing more yoga/meditation into my life. Some of my CIIP peers have even become my gym buddies and best motivators throughout this “wellness journey”! I hope to keep prioritizing this goal even after this summer, as I’ve already been experiencing the benefits of it!
LAÍS SANTORO | WHITELOCK COMMUNITY FARM
Ms. Kim, my supervisor, went to a conference in Philadelphia on Tuesday to educate folks on food safety procedures and different farming practices or tactics. She said she does this every so often and she told me about it when she came back. Since it was also a really hot day, almost Code-Red level, she asked another farm, The Greener Garden, if I would be able to go over there and help them out with anything they needed. Ms. Kim doesn’t like leaving folks alone at the farm, so I said sure! I spent my Tuesday afternoon with Ms. Lavette Blue at the Greener Garden, which was pretty close to Hamilton and Morgan State University. I was nervous to meet a new farmer, especially one that Ms. Kim talks about a lot and seems to respect. Once I got there, I got a tour of the farm and their land. They had so many hoop houses and grew so much! They also had a tractor which was cool because I’ve actually never gotten that close to one before. After doing the tour, I ended up heading inside because it was starting to get too hot to stay, and Ms. Lavette showed me what she needed help with. She wanted to organize all her farming records into an Excel spreadsheet and make a fresh one, so she didn’t have to do it by hand and also so it was easier to send to their accountant for taxes. I love working with Excel and organizing information like that, and so we worked on a few spreadsheets tracking different things. I made sure to go through everything and make sure that it was the best way for Ms. Lavette to use the spreadsheet since she would be going through and updating all the records herself.
While it probably would have taken me about half the time to complete the spreadsheets, the entire day there was so much great conversation that took up the time but that I was really grateful for. Ms. Lavette was one of the most interesting people ever! And I was just a stranger that she had met that day. She talked to me about her family members that had recently passed, her experience with COVID-19, she showed me several pictures of her family and the farm over the past few years. I learned so much!! I could tell also that she really cared for all the people around her and the farm that she had for 36 years. I saw Ms. Kim in a few of the pictures where they did training or were at events together and it was really heartwarming to see these connections and collaborations last over years. There were also several folks that I had seen at the Farm Alliance meeting I attended earlier and even that I had worked with at other farms like Real Food Farm. Also, she made me a smoothie with some fruits and vegetables from the farm like carrots, kale, mango and made sure I was so comfortable. The work environment that day didn’t even feel like work, it felt like I was just simply helping out a friend and it was such a nice surprise. It also made me realize how used we are to toxic work environments and spaces that are too demanding of us and take too much of us when we’re supposed to be feeling fulfilled and overjoyed from what we do. Also, I feel like society tends to focus a lot on the simply tasks of doing and productivity and the production of material things, whether that’s articles or reports or literally physical buildings and using those to measure one’s quality of work, by how much they do or how tangible it is. That should not be the case!!! And it’s very harmful, I think one of the most harmful parts of capitalism and grind culture. It can be very exploitive and we’ve normalized that “fast-paced” work environment, focused on report after report and always on the outcome. These past few weeks, I’ve been able to build relationships and talk to so many new people about very difficult topics that you normally would not have time to talk about in a regular setting, like race and harmful institutions and family and life and friends. I think that’s all a part of the work and should be just as equally valued as the material outcomes. Spending the day with Ms. Lavette was truly amazing and I hope I get to see her again to continue talking and learning from her.
TALIA SHADROUI | BALTIMORE CITY OFFICE OF SUSTAINABILITY
Hard to believe that I’m halfway through the internship now. This week was exciting because I finished the first draft of my literature review report on Friday. I am very proud of the work I put into it and I’m looking forward to getting feedback on it. One of my goals for the internship was to end with something complete and polished so that I could see the result of the work I’ve done–so I’m glad I was able to do just that through this Literature Review. This week I met with my supervisor and we reevaluated some of my projects and their deadlines so that it would all be feasible to accomplish by the end of the internship. One of my projects, which is to interview community members/stakeholders about best practices for engaging with neighborhoods/community, got delayed because of issues with my city email. We finally figured it all out though and now I’m back on track to set up meetings and talk to people and learn from them through these conversations.
These upcoming weeks I’m going to really work on being present and attentive during my conversations with community members and asking follow up questions where I don’t understand something or want more information. These interviews will help inform the community toolkit I will create during the final two weeks of the internship so it’s important that I pay attention and try to best capture what they say.Tags: 2021, Baltimore City Office of Sustainability, Bikemore, Black Church Food Security Network, CIIP, Environmental Sustainability, Farm Alliance of Baltimore, Joy Wellness Center, No Boundaries Coalition, Whitelock Community Farm