Thursday, September 30, 2010

FRESH 1% GRANT - WE WON!!!

At Our School at Blair Grocery, FRESH is one of our favorite documentaries. Every time we watch it, it inspires us in our work for food security and food justice for our community. Now, because of the amazing response from our supporters who voted for us to win the FRESH 1% Grant, we'll also recieve financial support from FRESH -- 1% of thier annual reveue for 2010.

We were competing for votes against some other great organizations, including: AmpleHarvest.org, CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture), Farming Concrete, Healthy Solutions, LifeCycles Project Society, Mobile Loaves and Fishes, National Family Farm Coalition, REAP (Research, Education, Action and Policy on Food), and WhyHunger.

Our School at Blair Grocery recieved 34.9% of the total 3,610 votes -- incredible!!! We are proud and honored. Thank you to all of our incredible supporters who voted and encouraged others to vote. You all made it possible for us to win!!!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Summer 2010 Video Update



A new video update from Summer 2010 at Our School at Blair Grocery, produced by Flux Rostrum.

Our Market: Teaching Social Entrepreneurship

Every Sunday afternoon, from 12-4pm, students at Our School at Blair Grocery operate a farmers market, selling the fresh, local, organic, fruits and vegetables that they helped to grow and harvest.





Our market provides people from the Lower 9th Ward and throughout New Orleans access to good healthy food, while our students strengthen their skills in math and public speaking and continue to develop a more sophisticated understanding of the challenge of food deserts in New Orleans in order to further organize, create, and fashion local solutions.


This experiential learning opportunity teaches students that there is more to running a successful market than just having the products. They are exploring basic principles of marketing too, asking: "How can we get more people to come to the market?" "Who is our target market?" "How can we get the people who come to buy more?" "Are our prices fair and competitive?" ...and more.


Our Market is also an opportunity for students to show customers around their farm/school, talk about their work and the opportunities OSBG has provided them, while continuing to build relationships.

Join us every Sunday for Our Market!!!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Youth Organizing Philosophy 101



Youth organizer, Guido gives us the run down on the youth organizing principles at play in the collaborative efforts of Our School at Blair Grocery, New York to New Orleans Coalition and the Youth Coalition for Community Action. Special thank you friend of Our School at Blair Grocery, Flux Rostrum for producing this video.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

"Process Revolution"

"If we believe the old system cannot be repaired, if we expect to see only more system failures, then the work is not to fix. Instead, the work needs to be given to radically different processes and methods, new systems based on new assumptions. The work becomes not process involvement but process revolution."
- Margaret J. Wheatley

Friday, September 24, 2010

Proud Affiliates of the Coalition of Essential Schools

Our School at Blair Grocery is proud to announce that we are now officially affiliates of the Coalition of Essential Schools (CES).

For more than 25 years, CES has been at the forefront of creating and sustaining personalized, equitable, and intellectually challenging schools. Essential schools are places of powerful learning where all students have the chance to reach their fullest potential. The CES Network includes hundreds of schools and more than two dozen Affiliate Centers. Diverse in size, population, and programmatic emphasis, Essential schools serve students from pre-kindergarten through high school in urban, suburban, and rural communities.

CES practice is exemplified by small, personalized learning communities in which teachers and students know each other well in a climate of trust, decency and high expectations for all. Essential schools work to create academic success for every student by sharing decision-making with students and families and explicitly confronting all forms of inequity. Essential schools focus on helping all students use their minds well through standards-aligned interdisciplinary studies, community-based "real-world" learning and performance-based assessment.


To create the school that our youth need and deserve, throughout our continuing school design process of OSBG we have worked with and are inspired by the CES Common Principles:

• Learning to use one’s mind well
• Less is more, depth over coverage
• Goals apply to all students
• Personalization
• Student-as-worker, teacher-as-coach
• Demonstration of mastery
• A tone of decency and trust
• Commitment to the entire school
• Resources dedicated to teaching and learning
• Democracy and equity

We're looking forward to facilitating a session at the CES Fall Forum this November and to (re)connect with educators from some of the amazing schools throughout the country that are part of the Coalition. The workshop we’ll be facilitating on Saturday, November 13th is:


Service-Learning, Youth Empowerment and Sustainable Community Development
Our School at Blair Grocery, is an independent community school for at-risk students aged 13-19 in New Orleans Lower 9th Ward that is creating a resource-rich safe space for youth empowerment and sustainable community development. Learn how we are successfully transforming the relationship between school and community. Participants will explore successful strategies for empowering youth through service-learning to engage in reflective practice with others that actualizes meaningful, effective and replicable local solutions to global challenges. Develop the strategies, tools and agency to engage your students in learning experiences that provide the opportunity for them to "be the change they want to see in the world."


We look forward to continuing to connect with students and teachers from CES schools throughout the country through our service-learning experiences for youth and educators. Meanwhile we also continue to develop relationships with more and more schools, youth and educators across New Orleans and hope that we can serve as ambassadors of CES principles and practices to New Orleans schools.

Monday, September 20, 2010

As We Prepare to Start Our School Year...

As the summer at Our School at Blair Grocery has come to an end we are reflecting on, and proud of what we were able to accomplish with over 400 high school and college students from around the country for “Food Justice Summer.” We are especially proud of the growth we have seen in the students who spent time with us this summer, from New Orleans and from all around the country, who have all strengthened their ability to come together with their peers across differences and learn how to fashion their own solutions, no matter what the challenge.


Our capacity for local food production and distribution has also grown considerably, and continues to grow every week as we’re moving forward. Since the spring of 2010, with our students, we have launched our our own business selling sprouts and microgreens grown on our campus to restaurants across the city while teaching entraupreunual skills and creating jobs for our students and other local youth afterschool. Trough increasing access to healthy, local food we have reached consistent sales of $1,300 weekly, funding the student stipends for the young people involved in our program and the basic costs to continue operations.

We’ve also been looking ahead to the start of our 2010-2011 school year, beginning officially on Monday, October 4th with our New Orleans students. Our students will have the opportunity to develop critical thinking skills, take leadership, engage in meaningful work for their communities and develop their capacity as social entrepreneurs, while preparing for their futures. Our students continue to be primarily high school-aged African American young men who have not found success in traditional educational environments, who need and deserve a supportive environment to learn and grow.

We have been hosting a few visits from local students lately as well. They have joined us for basic introductions to urban farming, composting workshops, harvesting, and other general work around the farm. We hope that as the school year progresses we’ll have the opportunity to support many more young people from many more New Orleans schools with opportunities like this, spend time learning outside of the classroom.
Right now we are in the midst of major renovations to the building that we have been able to move forward on thanks to nearly $40,000 in donations received. Our goal is to have the major stuff completed by October 1st, after which we’ll be able to engage our students, visiting service-learners and volunteers in finishing the rest of the work alongside local contractors.

In the meantime we are working everyday with contractors, electricians, A/C, plumbers and others, making great progress in restoring the Blair family grocery, Our School. None of this work would have been possible with out all of our supporters.

Your continued support is still desperately needed in order for us to further our work achieving a resource rich safe space for youth empowerment and sustainable community development in New Orleans Lower 9th Ward, and beyond.
If you are able to make a donation, you can do so online by credit card (use the "DONATE" button at the top of the page) or mail checks to Our School at Blair Grocery, 1740 Benton Street, New Orleans, LA 70117. If you aren’t able to make a monetary donation but can support us with educational supplies, books, computers, tools, construction materials or other items that could help us and our students, please contact us. Even if you are just able to volunteer your time, there is always work around here to do.

In Solidarity,

Staff and students of Our School at Blair Grocery

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Vote Now! Fresh 1% Grant


FRESH is one of our favorite documentaries at Our School at Blair Grocery. It is a film that celebrates the farmers, thinkers and business people across America who are re-inventing our food system. We like FRESH because it is also more than just a movie, it’s a gateway to action that inspires us to grow fresh food, ideas, and become active participants and leaders in an exciting, vibrant, and fast-growing movement, forging healthier, sustainable alternatives and offering a practical vision for the future of our food and our planet.

In the spirit of practicing generosity even when times are tight, the folks with FRESH have decided to give one percent of all of FRESH revenue of 2010 to one non-profit that is making a difference in the sustainable food movement. Our School at Blair Grocery was selected as one of the ten finalists, now its up to you to decide if we will receive the grant.

VOTE NOW for Our School at Blair Grocery by visiting: http://www.freshthemovie.com/call-to-action/votenowfreshgrant/

Voting ends September 24.