This blog is for trip participants to post their thoughts, feelings, and conclusions. Students can give their own insights on NY2NO's work with OSBG, curriculum, activities, and ideas exposed and analyzed on trips.
|Posted by ny2no on January 17, 2011 at 3:49 PM||comments (0)|
Reflecting back on everything that has happened. Looking back at osbg and what we have learned so far. From watching documentaries and having conversations on how oppression affects everyone to meeting the saint of sustainable farming brian gautraux i have learned more in the ten days of being here than I would ever learn in a year of school. Learning about the basic survival needs and putting the into play. These are luxuries that we have and I have gotten way too reliant on them. Meeting college students and watching them learn and have intimate group conversations with highschool was one of the best parts about this. We met with students from oxydental and learned alot from and qbout them. Most of them living in Los angelas, speaking to them about the new York lifestyle was probably as exciting for them as it was for us to learn about their students. Meeting queen aphi aka sunflower was one of the most exciting parts of this trip. The first thing that we heard about her was that she lives on 10 of the 40 acres that had been inherited by freed slaves after slavery was abolished. She had an outstanding personality. We helped her put up a gate around her house so that she wouldnt have to worry people sabotaging her plan to turn her home into a community center. We had to chop away at what seemed an endless barrage of vines with thorns. But sure enough, the ny2no and adelphi volunteers got it done. Knowing that we were helping in ways the government would never even consider felt really good. The scary part about this was drilling holes into the ground for the fence post. We heard that the gas line inspectors didn't do their job and didn't mark the gas and electricity lines raised the constant fear of us hitting it. A simple job that needs to be done, delayed probably because they don't care about the people of their land and their land.
Brian gautraux has a fish farm of thousands of talapia and a few thousand catfish. All of this done without the fear of overpopulation, species invasion, and only recycled water. This grow operation is probably one of the biggest in the country. And yet he takes care of it by himself with his family. Him, his wife, and their ten adopted children. This experience was truly inspirational. Seeing his free range chickens and being able to hold them. To touching his his free range cows, and not having to fear them stabbing us with their horns. Everything was a diverse group of animals living together. Everything was reused and recycled. From the compost from a nearby horse race track, to the nutrient rich water his fish produced. I fell in love with how friendly this man was and the fact that he took time out of his day to give us a tour meant a lot. Especially because as I said before he did all of this work on his 22 acres by himself. And he also worked on cars to bring money in and pay bills. Also learning that the USDA has went to his home and have harassed him and he just finds loop holes was also amazing. His will for a better and happy life was astonishing. Although it's saddening that the government doesn't care about better and healthier living , and instead the money matters more is horrendous. The quote America loves convenience stuck out to me throughout this trip. And it has been proven to me time and time again in new Orleans in the last 9 days I've been here.
|Posted by ny2no on January 17, 2011 at 3:47 PM||comments (0)|
After a tour of the levies, the parish, the poor broken down neighborhoods, and the beautiful rich white neighborhood, you can clearly see the boundaries. It is very obvious that there in no connection or relationship between the white people and the people of color. My first night here on my way to the blair grocery I was shown the destruction that really happened. Between roofs that have fallen in, the holes in the side of homes, and walls of houses being held up by sticks it immediately takes a toll on your emotions. Compost the first day was a small part of our day, but instead of working all day we took this tour to get a bigger picture of the destruction. The poorly build levies to the near extinction of the cypress trees. From the destroyed and broken down homes to kids running around with guns. It all just feels like your emotions are being strangled. As for the kids at the Blair school, to say there is no future for them is like saying there is no future for the 9th ward of new Orleans. Simply because the children are the future, if they happen to become addicts as we've heard most of their parents are, then it just starts a viscous cycle. I believe that no matter how little they learn everyday, it doesn't matter if they don't graduate or don't get GEDs because learning anything is a step forward from yesterday. The Blair grocery has made an impression on the community, regardless good or bad, they know what they want to do and they usually know how to attack the problems of the lower ninth ward. From composting on someones lot to help them keep it, to bringing an old woman mrs.Mary to see her husband at the hospital
|Posted by ny2no on August 24, 2010 at 1:00 PM||comments (0)|
During the summer at Our School at Blair Grocery, a new group of participants and organizers come through once a week. There are 10groups that have come through this summer from New York (NY2NO) andPhiladelphia (YCCA and PUC). On the second day of each week Nat Turner or someone on the staff takes the students on a levee tour, which is basically abreak down of the issues going on in the lower ninth ward and New Orleans. The tour is a great beginning for each trip and puts things into context for the participants on why we work the urban farm and school at OSBG. Each tour can be different based off of different factors such as weather, or who gives thetours, but each have the same concept. Turner has been taking the students to a Save A Lot on the second days of a trip, which is a cheap super market, and a Whole Foods on the third days. We usually buy food from both products to compare the differences in food which was what today’s workshop was on. Qasim Davis, an OSBG staff member, led the workshop about conscious consumer choices, starting off with brainstorming three different stores that the students went on during the levee tour- Whole Foods, Save A lot, and then a small bodega called Magnolia. Much of what was said had to do with the prices of the foodsin each store, the types of foods, where the food came from and the set up ofthe store. Afterward, we did around where each participant spoke in the circle pertaining to the types of supermarkets and stores we have in our communities back home. Next, an activitywas set up where tape is placed in the floor in the shape of a cross, and each point represented a choice. One choice was Whole Foods, one point was Save ALot, one point was locally grown food and one point was the ‘price’ of your receipt. The point of the activity was to have each participant stand wherehe/she felt was the best conscious choice of purchasing food. Qasim told us togo to the spot where you felt we should consider the most. For example, one person might stand on the Whole Foods point and argue the fact that we should only shop at Whole Foods because they sell organic and healthy food. Fromthere, each person took a standpoint for where they felt.
Later, organizers came together to think about a debrief activity and we collectively thought we should do something a bit different,and more engaging. The activity we came up with started out with a 5 minutefree write where participants would write words and phrases that stuck out tothem during the levee tour. We then had two scribes in the center of thecircle, and people would begin to project the words that meant the most tothem. After, with each word and phrase in front of us, we combined the wordsinto a collaborative poem.
Here is what we came up with:
ICE COLD MEDINA: Dangerously Dope.
Security dependence opportunity for youth empowerment.
Cheers for mortal saints ain't sustainability
Lack of clean water on some 3rd world shit.
Deserted, disconnected and displaced.
The fresh bougie slave ending up in jail or dead.
Ignored Okra Revolution. I did my part five years ago.
Different experiences. DI V I D E D and Conquered.
Highclass lunch tray conspiracy failure
Disconnected education, prison pipeline, can't fight stupid.
14 foot levee, 6 feet under
...Nomoney, low class forgotton.
Capitalism set up for failure.
So WHAT’S GOINGON?
Tell-a-lievision, systematic erosion.
Creation of the elite monoculture. A system not equal.
Red Pill or Blue?
So what are you gonna do, when facing cancer valley, enviornmental terrorism and inequality?
Take flight during the summer of fire
‘If not now, then when? If not me, then who?’
Katrina, she's a bad chick.
left with no home to go to. houseless, but not a bum.
The french quarter opened 2 days after Katrina,… GREED!
So, who's next?
You don't work with the army you want,
You work with the army you got,
Magnolia or Whole Foods?
Solve the root of the problem, food.
New solutions to old problems, justice.
The power of empowerment to vote 3 times a day.
Help vs. Solidarity.
- Naima Noguera
|Posted by ny2no on July 22, 2010 at 11:08 PM||comments (0)|
Around noon on July 12th, 2010, several organizers on the Food Justice Summer 2010 met with a dairy farmer in Hammond by the name of Jay Ernst. Although I’m not an ordained organizer I was privileged enough to comfortably tag along. Jay informed us that he was a traditional “country boy” and began detailing his life as a dairy farmer and as well as his political views. We absorbed every word of his lecture on pasteurization, welfare, and universal education. He provided copies of “The Fifteen Things That Pasteurization Kills” by Mark MacAfee in which Jay Ernst validated his philosophies on the raw milk revolution. We harvested 12-inch Italian Long Beans and although I was reluctant to wholly integrate myself in the farming experience, the beans were delicious. Subsequently we were given two gallons of raw milk to enjoy at our own discretion. Jay Ernst invited us to shovel cow manure in solidarity with him at 3 PM. Arriving on time, myself and an organizer returned to Jay’s dairy farm anticipating grueling farm work. The odor from the cow manure was rancid, but I was mentally fortified to challenge my environmental discomfort. Being a southern gentleman, Jay offered me his other available pair of farmers’ boots, and I accepted. We walked over to the cow manure collection center, and lo and behold, mounds of dung were patiently waiting. As a result of our wild shoveling, iotas of manure were all over our bodies, clothing, and hair. In between hauling, Jay talked to us about dairy farmers, and the sometimes non-chalant attitude that plagues most dairy farmers today.
We spoke about Monsanto, genetically modified seeds, and sustainable development and independence. We recognized that food education and accessibility empowers young people like myself. I told him that the likelihood of this (shoveling manure) occurring in New York was close to zero. Then we loaded buckets of water and carried them to the calves’ living space. On the way to their shed I clumsily spilled an entire bucket of water over myself. Unabashedly, I continued on; the calves were very responsive to our caresses, as I saw their colors the group’s previous discussions of racism jumped in my thoughts. One was ebony, the other mocha, and the other was caramel. “At least they’re integrated,” I thought. After this Jay instructed us to densely pack four buckets of hay, and then fill three buckets with feed, with the feed going on top of the hay. I wasn’t aware of how hay was engineered, or naturally occurred. Jay told us that it was simply dried grass and I felt uneducated. Not in that moment, but sometime during that day Jay urged us not to become “stupid smart people”, especially with my desire to pursue law. When you separate hay after it’s been rolled, it tends to release hay powder that hinders your visibility, which soon happened to me. I sat on the buckets to maximize the capacity and Jay commented that he’d never thought of sitting on the buckets as an effective method of densely packing the hay. By the cow’s positive response we received after dumping the hay in the cows’ feeding bin it was blatant that the feeding had been highly anticipated. Since I was wearing farmer Ernst’s boots I had the grand privilege of being in a mud & manure standing ground in order to use the hose to fill up the watering bins. After completing the task an organizer arrived to ‘collect’ us just as Jay announced that it was time to milk the cows! I invited myself to this rare opportunity, and it was truly gratifying. Jay called it his Titty bar “because” he says, “I’ve got my girls, a cold one and music,” which he did. First we hosed down the area where the udders and teats are located and Jay told us that the cows are stimulated by the hose pressure which compels them to produce more milk which is produced via their mammary veins. I laughed hysterically and it’s probable that my laughter roused the cow that I was hosing to stomp cow manure straight into my right eye. The laughter was contagious and soon the two organizers, Jay, and the observing customers erupted into laughter. Jay taught us how to milk the cow by hand, as we tilted the teats (udders) towards us out squirted raw milk onto our clothes and skin. Sincerely appreciative for the experience we departed and both parties were mutually contented. -Group 2 Participant (Kimberly White)
|Posted by ny2no on July 20, 2010 at 11:40 PM||comments (0)|
When i stepped off the NY2NO bus the community around me was shocking. I was slapped in the face hard and continued to be overwhelmed by the issues in New Orleans that continues to pile up upon each other. It disappoints me to say that i was blind to the issues at hand. Thankfully this organization has changed my whole outlook on the problems here and life all together. By learning so much about this city and all it's history, in a way it's too much to wrap my mind around. The hardest part of this trip for me is that the progress is not apparent right away, but i've also leaned that the process is slow, but definitely rewarding. I have come here a blank slate and I'm returning home with more than i ever expected to learn. What i hope for is that when i come back i'll bring with me more knowledge and experience than i have left here with. NY2NO is a life changing experience and is for sure one that i would like to experience over and over again.
|Posted by ny2no on July 20, 2010 at 10:21 PM||comments (0)|
For the last five days I've been in Hammond, a town about an hour away from New Orleans. The town is filled with fast food restaurants, Winn-Dixies and Wal-Marts, but the place my group was staying was entirely different. The woman with whom we were staying is named Sunflower. Before Hurricane Katrina, she had a store that sold natural products and clothing. After the storm, her shop was destroyed and Klan members stood at her exotically painted gates, warning customers away. While at Hammond, we worked on cleaning up Sunflower's property by cutting grass and underbrush. We cleaned up trash. We played with her seven adorable puppies, lay on her hammock, and enjoyed her wonderful Cajun cooking. For my last night I am back at OSBG. We are about to have the most important debrief of all-the one that addresses how we are going to bring what we learned on our trip home. We may also watch the Matrix, depending on whether anyone is going to bother sleeping before getting up at 3:30 for our flight home.
|Posted by ny2no on July 4, 2010 at 1:26 AM||comments (0)|
The definition of education is: 'the act or process of imparting or acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgement, and generally of preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life.' But when we think of education, the majority of the population tends to associate it with the image of school. On this particular NY2NO trip, I was shown that a huge portion of our teachings originate from what we take from our personal experiences, as well as what we learn from the experiences of others.
Coming into this experience, I expected to potentially reconstruct houses and work in gardens in areas of New Orleans devastated by Hurricane Katrina, and leave knowing that I contributed to helping the community. I never could have prepared myself to receive an education and knowledge so unconventional and disparate that it could only have been acquired on this trip, and not in a classroom.
Originating from the suburbs, my entire education has consisted of teachings by people of the same kind- others generally of the same race, financial position, educational level, etc., who were also raised in the suburbs. I'd never been exposed to much diversity in my community, and was constantly subjected into an environment where most aspects of people's lives were identical to mine. I hadn't anticipated a colossal portion of this trip would relate to learning so much solely because of the diversity of the group. This type of education was all about sharing experiences, and discussing very real, uncomfortable, and controversial topics relating to not only New Orleans, but the everyday life relating to people in general-- the topics that are almost taboo for teachers in schools to even touch on.
In addition, there was evidently manual labor involved; we helped Our School at Blair Grocery manage their urban farm. The difference about this trip was that we didn't travel to the Lower 9th Ward here to exclusively mow lawns and then leave. Aside from the manual labor, we had group discussions each day and night to help us recognize exactly how our work was benefiting the community, and the specific problems we were empowered to slowly work towards fixing. Just as gardeners pull the weed by the root in order to keep it from re-growing, we work together to understand the root of the problems facing this community (financial, educational, etc.). We worked towards patching these problems, and discussed how to work towards preventing these issues from occurring again. Although New Orleans is a distant and foreign community, the difficulties and obstacles it faces (although the severity may be greater) are similar to those in other states-- such as those in my own, personal state of New Jersey. Because of this, I had a greater connection and a greater motivation participate in the movement for the progression of New Orleans.
There is an endless amount that I could write about this trip, but to summarize certain important aspects, I took so much away from it as a person. I learned such an ample amount-- information wise, and intellectually as a person. This trip has allowed me to come to terms with reality and realize a lot of things about the world, about myself, about others, and about the relationship between the three. I feel that from this trip I have become significantly more mature, and have grown as a person. I plan on returning in the future so I can continue this journey, continue this movement, and sustain the drive that so many youth and adult volunteers have exerted towards this cause.
|Posted by ny2no on July 4, 2010 at 1:14 AM||comments (0)|
It is Day 6 here in New Orleans and I am spellbound by all that I have experienced here, especially in the debriefs. Over the course of the past week we have worked here with Our School at Blair Grocery (OSBG). Being a native New Yorker, this experience thus far has definitely persuaded me to change my eating patterns and to be appreciative of what I have back at home.
Today’s workshop was the top seller (at least to me) education-wise. Today’s was about the WIDE gap between adults and youth. Growing up in New York and given all my opportunities, I have not experienced any form of discrimination, but rather a welcoming agenda. This workshop consisted of selected youth, one being me, discussing the gap between generations in front of the entire NY2NO group. Then we switched it up and had staff here from OSBG talk about working with youth. This was an amazing opportunity to see and hear from different perspectives about the gap between us. I spoke of my amazing experiences in New York and how they have helped constructed the person who I am. I have always had a fear of becoming an adult, I felt that there would be no more security and no one to guide me into my future. But the staff here at OSBG spoke about how GOOD it felt to no longer suffer from insecurities and finding out who you are. Once entering adulthood you have a different perspective and I have dreaded experiencing that perspective until today.
Earlier in the week we have been doing a ton of work here at OSBG. My favorite activity is composting, which consists of the most physical labor, and my least favorite is harvesting sprouts, mostly because I am not good at cutting the sprouts at the roots. Compost consists of us throwing a ton of food waste from local groceries and Whole Foods onto a mountain of debree, (soil and wood chips) covering it with coffee beans and then covering that whole set up with wood chips. This activity is the most fun of all because it promotes a greener lifestyle by replenishing nutrients in the soil to continue to grow nutriuous, organic foods here. I also find this fun because of the team work. There are so many ways to do it. Everyone can do the same task or we can do an assembly line. Although there is a ton of shoveling and other physical labor, it makes me the feel the most satisying because it feels as if I am leaving a mark here in New Orleans to help the citizens of the Lower Ninth Ward have a good meal to eat and good soil to grow in.
I am excited for this overall experience. In my head I constantly think about coming again (if my funds were to allow that.) Before I came here, everyone I spoke to said I was coming here to help with the oil spill. Little do they know that Hurricane Katrina has still left an impact on others lives. The storm that happened five years ago has still left people in a state of shock, especially those that come out here to volunteer with organizations such as NY2NO. We are off to the Village of Tangipahoa up north and will be working on farms. I have never done work like that in my life and it will all be documented in my video diary which I am doing mainly for my funders. This experience I’d say has changed me for the better. Minor things (such as my eczema outbreak) usually stop me from focusing on my main purpose out here, but I got to continue to have my eye on the prize and that’s to make a change here. Two weeks is not a long time. But it is indeed time and it’s precious! I am going to make the most of these final 8 days toward a better New Orleans.
|Posted by ny2no on January 15, 2010 at 8:50 AM||comments (0)|
Today, Nat Turner, teacher at Our School at Blair Grocery took our BC/Wes/Pitzer group, representatives from National Youth Leadership Council and others on a field trip!
So we went down to Tangipahoa, aparish with about 2,000 residents [about a quarter of whom came from New Orleans after Katrina], a parish with a 40% poverty rate and a median incomefor a family of three at 17,000. We went there and saw acres of land. That is what I would’ve said if I had driven past it. But today we saw and learned allthat the parish of Tangipahoa could be. What we saw out there on the great stretches of land that had thepotential to link the urban farm to the rural and vice versa. A place to expandthe work we’re doing and in doing so build with so many more people. Monday I probablywouldn’t have believe the words I’m typing , but currently , I know it’ll happen. Nat Turner and the Mayor of Tangipahoa, Michael D. Jackson (former NFL player) showed us the possibilities of using 40 acres of land to work towards food sovereignty in the rural town and in the Lower Ninth Ward. That would mean complete community control over good healthy food (production and distribution). The connection between Tangipahoa and the Lower Ninth would be not only built through a farm on that land but also would provide jobs for more then 300 young people as well as working towards rural and urban youth empowerment through service learning project together. Our School at Blair Grocery is making many partnerships with different organizations, restaurants and schools in Louisiana and after seeing Turner's vision. I believe that this is possible. OSBG is attacking inequality from all fronts: education, employment, food, housing and health this is a model that we hope to bring home to our own communities.
Then we went down to TREE [Teaching Responsible Earth Education] and learned of new ways to learn about the earth and understand how important our involvement in it actually is. The change theearth undergoes has everything to do with us, and it is when we understand that, that we realize we have to take steps in creating a better world.This organization uses alternative education and experiential leanring to teach 5th and 7th graders about responsible energy consumption through awesome and engaging activities. I wish I had gone to a school like that! OSBG is partnering with them and plans to take young people from the L9W and Tangipahoa on field trips in order to learn and grow together.
And partnerships are important inall of this. You can’t make changes alone and if you try, there’s a good chanceyou’ll burn out. This is a fear a few of us here have. We’re here now andcurrently being surrounded by other students interested in organizing hashelped us stay focused. But Saturday we leave, and then what? It’s so easy togo back home and forget about the problems addressed in our stay here. That’s the luxury so many people have and I think it’s one of the primary reasons change isn’tmade. Because the problems are so easy to ignore back home, even while thosevery same problems are a real possibility anywhere. The Lower Ninth Ward is notin the state it’s in now simply because of a really bad hurricane and really weak levee. It’s because the residents were ignored.
|Posted by ny2no on January 14, 2010 at 7:56 PM||comments (1)|