In addition to reminding you about our scheduled workday. I wanted to share an appreciation of all of you. Given the way a community garden is set up with people coming and going at different schedules, it may be difficult to see or experience the impact that our project is having.
Recently Harambee was visited by a group of 8th graders. They spent several hour working at Harambee as well as participating in a series of thought provoking discussions.
Through all our hours of collective efforts we make a difference. Sometimes it is small, sometimes it is obvious, sometimes we don’t get to know for a long time and sometimes it reaches far outside the neighborhood.
The following is from one of the teachers who organized the visit. While the message mentions myself, Vinny and Taquan by name, it is meant for all of us. I ask that you accept the appreciation expressed in this message personally.
For the last three years, I have listened to teacher after teacher tell me how difficult the particular class of 8th graders you met last week is. As a personal practice, I really try to ignore what others tell me and meet each class with a clean slate. I’m not going to lie… this year, it’s been pretty tough to do that. There were many days I had to remind myself of my commitment and many others that I forgot it entirely. As we moved toward this unit, I was sure the whole week would be an exercise in futility. Believe me when I tell you – I was not alone in this dread. Everyone from administrators to custodians seemed to be bracing themselves. My team was tempted to bail on the project. I personally just avoided thinking about it.
And then the day of the unit was upon us. There was no going back and, almost one year to the day after I initially texted Seamus asking for the opportunity, our bus pulled up to the garden. The two of you couldn’t have handled our kids with more grace and ease. In fact, I didn’t even see the most minor of flinches in either of you as 130 feet marched into the garden. That’s stone cold impressive!
But your awesomeness didn’t stop there. You set up stations, you took charge of rotations, you guided and directed, you encouraged, you educated. One of the things our students talked the most about later was the bias conversation – the way in which you both interacted with our kids reinforced the things we have talked about in my classroom all year long that I think have sometimes been brushed aside as some sort of “liberalize” or something. THANK YOU for saying what you said and doing what you did. Without knowing it, you sewed up an entire year of life lessons.
When we returned to school, Mr. Mendralla was the first to notice he thought the kids were altered. Altered, Seamus and Vinny. That is the word he used. Altered. I turned away from Alex and panned my eyes across the room to see student after student with a broad smile and an ease 8th graders rarely display. Guards were down and authenticity was up. There is only one thing that can account for that shift in being: community. Thank you both for showing our students not only what community looks like but also what it feels like. You need to know… I am CERTAIN putting their hands in contact with earth on the “other side” made an impact on these kids on a cellular level. I know that someday, whether it be today, tomorrow, or 20 years from now, they will have a disempowering thought about another person. And then they will replace that thought with an empowering one. It will happen, and it will feel natural to them, and then they will do it again and again and again. And the two of you will be responsible for it.
Thank you for being who you are and doing what you did. I will be forever grateful.
And now… from the kids:
Thank You! See you Sunday. 🙂
Co-Founder Root Riot Urban Garden Network