Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Today group C (Heather, Aubrey, Amy, Steve, Matt Mc) and I (Kyle, Dr. Palmer's son who got to tag along on this trip) went into the Algiers section to visit and do a service-learning project with an urban farm run by Thaddeus Prosper. When we showed up things were not as I suspected, first I thought we would be weeding and working with plants but instead we were helping Thaddeus to make a sort of crib (to create a sort of raised area) for the plants out of old pallets.
We all had a job to do, some of us were shoveling dirt and mulch into the created cribs so they were ready for planting, the rest of us were making the cribs themselves. I enjoyed our time there being able to help out Thaddeus to finish the things he needed to grow the new plants. It was a lot of fun with a great dinner afterwards. Then after avoiding traffic we headed back to the gym for some well deserved rest.
I believe that Thadeus's idea for starting his urban farms was noble and helping. He told us that he started his two farms/gardens to help provide fresh food easily for the people in the area around him that do not have any other way to get at these healthy foods. I enjoy Thaddeus as a person because he is very passionate and determined to help everyone around him.
Monday, March 5, 2012
Sunday, March 4, 2012
Van Group "C" subsequently named "FIPs" stopped enroute in Cairo, Illinois. Cairo (pronounced CAY-roh) is located at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. We left in blowing snow and by Cairo it was still in the mid-40s. Traveled as far as Grenada, Mississippi on the first day.
Saturday, March 3, 2012
I posted to Facebook yesterday that class is excited about the trip and a number of MGMT 4000 alum from last year wished us well but also said they were jealous. For good reason! We've got nine interviews set up and, in addition, we'll be working on two different service events Tuesday afternoon. We'll also be going back to visit Turner at "Our School at Blair Grocery" in the Lower 9th.
In the meantime, it's time to double check the packing list and hope that everyone shows up at 7:45 for the 8:00 departure!
Laissez les bon temps rouler!
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Updated 3.10.11, posted by David.
Tuesday evening, we were hosted for dinner by Sarah Usdin. Sarah spoke with our class during the orientation meeting Monday morning. Her passion for ensuring all children are given the opportunity for a quality education made a strong impression on the class. Sarah is founder and CEO of New Schools for New Orleans and was in the second graduating class of Teach for America.
For dinner, Sarah ensured we were exposed to the best of Louisiana. We had fish stew over rice, Barq's root beer, strawberries from Ponchatoula (LA), Zapp's potato chips, pralines, King Cake, and Abita beer. As well, Sarah rounded up several Michiganders currently living in New Orleans to provide a midwesterner's view of living in the Big Easy. After dinner, the group gathered around her dining room table to have our daily debriefing. Thank you Sarah!
Sunday, March 6, 2011
Dr. K.C. O'Shaughnessy, director of Haworth's Center for Entrepreneurship, felt a day in the Vieux Carre (French Quarter) wouldn't be complete without a stop at Cafe Du Monde for beignets and cafe au lait (coffee with half and half and hot milk). The place was hopping because of Mardi Gras and the steady downpour of rain. Between the coffee and pounds of powdered sugar coating the beignets, the group was primed to spend their last day in New Orleans shopping, eating local food (po-boys, gumbo, muffaletta sandwiches, red beans and rice) and listening to music. Thank you Dr. O'Shaughnessy!
Saturday, March 5, 2011
Our wheels for the New Orleans trip have been three Chrysler product minivans. Rather than rely on boring names such as "Van 1", each has acquired a unique name that fits the personalities of its occupants. The first, driven by Tim, is the "FunVee". I think everyone agreed it was the most entertaining of the vans. The second driven by Louann is the "Relaxi-Taxi". Mostly, it's occupants slept. The third, driven mostly by Taylor and Sean, was clearly the "cool van" and was called the Black Widow. Kyle, our ten year old mostly preferred to ride with the cool guys who treated him like a little brother.
We split the drive down to New Orleans into two segments. Day 1 was a 10-hour drive from WMU to Memphis. The route took us down the backbone of Illinois (one very long state), across the Mississippi into Missouri, south to Ar-Kansas, then briefly into Tennessee before arriving at the Comfort Inn in Southaven, MS. Day 2 was a relatively short six hour drive into New Orleans.
While in New Orleans, Tim and Louann primarily acted as cab drivers dropping one fare off at their interview then shuttling a second team to their site, then returning to the first for a pick-up, etc. You get the point. We circled the Louisiana Superdome more times than we can count but also hit iconic New Orleans streets such as St. Charles, Poydras, Magazine, and Elysian Fields.
Thank you to all the drivers and those riding shotgun navigating with the GPS. Coleen will be happy to know our Enterprise vans are scratch free. Posted by Tim
(From left to right: The Fun-Vee, Tim, Chad, The Black Widow, Taylor, The Relaxi-Taxi, Louann & Marcus)
Friday, March 4, 2011
The goal behind this ambitious product is too not only create a more sustainable environment, but to also make room for more product ideas in the future. Tippy Tippens came here in early September from Brooklyn, New York after seeing what harm the oil spill has done to the environment and wildlife in the area. The bird soaps which come in black right now are designed to signify the oil which covered the animals and after you have used the soap enough inside you will find a white ceramic bird to signify the cleanup efforts. Posted by Danny
It is not surprising that children are afraid of water in New Orleans. The mission of Swim for Success, therefore, is to provide lessons to children of families who are otherwise unable to afford lessons, although Swim for Success is as much about children's mental health as their physical health.
Tanvi Shah of Tulane University explained to our team that 45 students currently donate an hour of their time, eight times a semester to build up kids' essential life skills like perseverance and trust. Currently the group uses a 1:1 ratio with the kids, aged four to 18. To be sustainable, however, the fully-operated student organization at Tulane will transition to a 2:1 student-teacher ratio. This has actually been proven to stimulate competition in the kids learning to swim.
Reflecting on this interview, I think it's great that the Tulane students care so much about the future of underprivileged youth in New Orleans. I hope Swim for Success will become more well known so that they can expand their work to make more use of local pools, as they only have access to one of the five pools in the area. Posted by David
Thursday, March 3, 2011
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Today everybody went to Our School at Blair Grocery. Unfortunately, Nat Turner was out of town, but his students and interns showed us around. We also helped compost in the garden as our physical service event in New Orleans! Even though it got a littly chilly, we still had fun.
Here's a video of us eating worms!!
Today my group met with Ed Buckner who is one of the co-founders of The Porch Cultural Organization located in the 7th Ward . This organization works with elementary and middle school kids to develop projects that will get them to learn more about New Orleans and specifically their neighborhood. Ed had an amazing story about how he got involved with the kids to help keep them off the street and get into things such as digital media, art, and Mardi Gras parades. The kids also write and perform plays in which they perform in different areas around the city.
The organization is run by Nat Turner and consists of 7-10 volunteers/interns. Turner has watched this develop over the last two years. The GED-prep is taught in a classroom in their building. The sustainability education is developed through the small farm surrounding the property. The kids and volunteers spend everyday composting, planting, building, and harvesting all the different types of vegetables being grown. They have five sectors that drive their farming success. Each person involved rotates through different responsibilities to learn every aspect of growing. When the food is ready to be distributed, they sell it at farmer's markets, to local restaurants, to national and international food distributors, and the local community.
This is an incredible organization that is making a huge impact on the lives of children and teenagers in the Lower 9th Ward. They are quickly becoming the backbone to the recovery and future development of the Lower 9th Ward. We had an incredible time meeting with Turner and are planning on taking the entire group down there later this week.
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
We met with Tom Fischmann of Body Evolution yesterday at the Launchpad, a work community (a.k.a. a start-up accelerator) in downtown New Orleans in which entrepreneurs, freelancers, and people working for out-of-town companies can work and together support and learn from each other in this very inviting workspace. Spaces are rented by communal desks, private desks, and private offices. The mission is to create a community that supports entrepreneurship, innovation, career growth, and most importantly making New Orleans a better place.
Grow Dat! is an organization that is geared towards developing leaders by having youth and adults grow food. They help and transform their communities as well as their environment by leading healthier lives. Founded by Johanna Gilligan, Grow Dat! is a fairly new organization on a small area of land located in the Hollygrove Market. They hope to someday expand their land so that they can grow more crops as well as house farm animals.
First is the first trip they took with 8 students. They went to the Dominican Republic and were housed with families there. The adults were in one house and the kids were in another, so the kids had to work together and even work individually to overcome barriers like the Dominican food style, their language, how they live within their households. It was a terrifying, but extremely beneficial experience for these kids. Lisa said they started in the city to get them comfortable and then moved into the mountains. This absolutely scared the kids, especially when they went to a cave to climb down and explore. After the initial shock the students took advantage of their opportunity and had a blast! The last thing about this story Lisa said was that the students changed from day one leaving the trip to when they came home in how they acted. (In a positive way!)
The second story is where the name Baobob came from. Baobob is an African tree that the roots grow as long as its branches do. Which represents that there is an equality in what you give to yourself and what you give to the world. This program does just that to the fullest capacity. Making the name Baobob a perfect fit!
This program is something they want to keep locally in New Orleans as of right now. Baobob is getting kids to other countries, but also to help out in their own community. This is the part that really will help these students in the long run. Baobob is taking kids that if not lead in a positive direction could end up dealing drugs, being alcoholics, becoming a member of a gang. Baobob is changing childrens lives and it can only go up from here! Posted by Chad
Janet runs a program where employees, primarily high school drop-outs, must be enrolled to obtain their diploma or GED. The business will subsidize some needs these participants may have such as child care. Not only will her employees have an education when they are done with the program, they will also have skills that apply to culinary jobs as well as leadership skills. Since she founded the program, more than 160 youth have participated. This showed us that many our society assumes desire to go nowhere in life share the same desire for education the rest of us do.
Janet has made changes in the community but she told us she will feel accomplished when there is no longer a need for her program because youth are being served by New Orleans' public schools. Her saying is, "There is no excuse for not having an education."
Monday, February 28, 2011
After leaving Memphis Sunday morning, Van 3 aka The Black Widow as named by the van's occupants, ventured to Graceland to take pictures of the birthplace of Elvis before making the drive south to New Orleans.
Part of the tradition of Graceland is to write on the wall at the front gate to prove you were there. Van 3 did just that.
Here are a few others from Graceland...
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Our first Mardi Gras parade was an experience. In Kalamazoo, parades aren't nearly as interactive as what we saw here. We arrived when the parade was nearly done so we rushed to the curb and elbowed our way in. The atmosphere encouraged you to shout and scream and within 30 minutes we were loaded with beads, moon pies, whistles, bags, and cups. The longer we were there, the bolder we became. Jena begged for a set of beads with dollar signs. Mercedes scored a black and gold parade umbrella, and Tim nearly knocked out a grade schooler for an awesome set of beads adorned with a large flur de lis. More to parades to come on Wednesday.
Before then, however, we start our real work. We begin at 8:00 with an overview from SENO's director, Andrea Chen. After two solid days of travel, it's going to be an early morning.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
We have made it to Memphis!
All 19 of us piled into 3 vans and took off around 8:30 am EST from the Rec Center at WMU. We headed south through Indiana and Illinois in the morning. After stopping just north of Champagne, Illinois for lunch, we continued our travels through Arkansas and then into Tennessee where we arrived at our hotel in Memphis around 7:15 pm local time.
After checking into our hotel, we found an awesome local BBQ establishment, Central BBQ. It felt great to hang out with everyone and enjoy some great food!
We will be up bright and early in the morning to finish our trip down to New Orleans. More pictures to follow once we reach New Orleans.