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Friday, June 18, 2010

70206 Tarpley

This past week, a group of YCCA members stayed in Tangipahoa, part of a growing partnership with the mayor of the village. Fifteen students from the CUNY colleges and Wesleyan University went to Tangipahoa for the second half of their two-week trip, the first group to do so for an extended period of time.

Since YCCA/NY2NO groups will be visiting Tangipahoa in rotating groups through August, much of the work that has to be done deals with turning the two cabins into functional living spaces. By the end of the second day, the group constructed seven bunk beds and installed an air conditioner.

Besides renovating the living quarters, a large part of this Tangipahoa partnership deals with supporting local farmers. The group sent students to help out at two local farms, with farmers Naomi and Wayne. While we are still struggling to define the goals of this rural-urban youth partnership, we hope that we are beginning to strengthen our relationship with Tangipahoa Village and its local farmers.

Home sweet home!

Just like the old saying goes: We made our beds, and slept in them too.

The bus ride there was just a little bit crowded.

This bus attracted a lot of attention throughout our stay.

6 AM sunrise at Wayne's farm.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Oil, Land Loss and Life in Terrebonne Parish

What will be the short-term and long-term consequences of the gulf oil spill to the ecological and social systems of southern Louisiana? What do communities throughout Louisiana (and the U.S) need to know and be able to do to support each other in times of need?

Our School at Blair Grocery and young people from the national Youth Coalition for Community Action took a trip to Southern Louisiana to explore these questions in a series of conversations and experiences with members of the community and scientists doing work in the area. Our goals for the trip were to (1) establish mutually beneficial relationships between OSBG and organizations people and organizations in southern Louisiana; (2) to identify opportunities for service in in southern Louisiana that address significant community needs; and (3) to begin research into the development of a curriculum unit that addresses the ecological and social impacts of the oil spill and continued wetlands depletion.

At the Dulac Community Center we joined by Bayou Grace, an organization working to provide relief to those being impacted by the oil spill, learned about issues of land loss associated with continued wetlands depletion. We discussed the communities relationship to the oil industry and the impact of the oil spill on those working in the fishing industry - the two primary industries providing employment to those living in Terrebonne Parish - however, now much of the fishing has stopped.

We had the incredible opportunity to meet with members of the United Houma Nation and discuss both the history and current status of the community, relationships to the fishing and oil industry and challenges that lie ahead. We learned of thier plans to develop a Cajun French emersion school for native Houma children and plans to start a garden. We are excited to continue to explore opportunities to work together to support the unique and similar needs we each face in our communities.

We ended the day with a crawfish boil on the bayou, continuing to think about what we heard and learned over the day, and eager to figure out how we can support these communities in this time of need.

The next morning we made our way to the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON), a coastal laboratory intended to coordinate and stimulate Louisiana's activities in marine research and education.

LUMCON provides coastal laboratory facilities to Louisiana universities, and conducts research and educational programs in the marine sciences. We had the opportunity to speak to one of the lead researchers, who gave us a tour and answered questions.

We hope to continue building our relationships with everyone we had the opportunity to meet with in Terrebonne Parish and at LUMCON.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Seeding Change

At Our School at Blair Grocery we have greatly expanded our sprouts and microgreen production and sales thanks to the persistence and dedication of Ryan, seen above teaching a few of the girls from the neighborhood the art of seeding. The food that we grow is critically important, and equally as important are the seeds of change we're planting in the hearts and minds of children in the Lower 9th Ward.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Community Building, Young Folk Style

Yesterday we had a community barbeque and crawfish boil at the school. About 30 community members joined us, adding to the 40 young people here for Food Justice Summer to make a great party. The event was a joint effort, planned by the students at Our School at Blair Grocery, and participants of Food Justice Summer. The young people spent the last week going around the neighborhood to let people know about the barbeque, and see if anyone wanted to help. They clearly found a lot of people who knew how to cook really well, because Freddie from across the street cooked the crawfish, Ms. Mary cooked the rice and beans, and Vince's mom cooked the chicken and Patatoe salad, and everything was DELICIOUS.

Some young folk who go to Frederick Douglas High school and are a part of the Summer Excellence program came to visit us and showed and taught us all some ballroom hip-hop that they'd been working on. We are excited to be hanging out with them a lot more this summer, and have been sending some people over to see them every afternoon. Tomorrow they're spending the whole day at the school doing some farming with us.

Tomorrow we have another group coming in from YCCA, bringing our count up to almost 50 from Pitzer, Wesleyan, Adelphi, NYU, Hunter, Brooklyn College, Green Mountain College, Clark Atlanta, Bard, SUNY New Paltz, Binghamton, and more!!