For my third action project we were asked to do community service for 3 hours, while attempting to address a human right we felt strongly about. I chose to help out my school, and help the community garden. As I will explain, I wanted to tackle the issue of access to food. For a class field experience we worked at a church to prepare lunches for the hungry, and then worked at a homeless shelter. This gave me an appreciation for what I have, and specifically how easy it is for me to eat whatever I want, whenever I want. Many people, for a variety of reasons, do not have this luxury, but I am in a position where I can help tackle the problem. here is my project.
Some skills that I offer are in the manual labor parts of service. This includes anything that requires some sort of physical ability, such as shoveling, lifting, etc. I have experience with this in places like South Africa and Ecuador where I built things like schools and bathrooms. I have also done labor like this in Chicago, and even in my school. Overall I enjoy doing manual work and believe I offer a lot. The human right I am addressing is the right to food. Everyone deserves access to healthy food no matter your financial situation or location. The organization I worked for was my school. I helped prepare a garden, which will grow vegetables for the community. This can be done in any neighborhood, and we are living examples of that. While the food we are growing cannot feed all of the hungry people in Chicago, it is displaying different ways in which we can do it. Vacant lots can be turned into gardens, and families that need more vegetables in their diets now have a fun and proactive way of approaching the problem at a relatively low cost.
We asked our project manager a few questions about this project and how she felt it helped the community. Kim Campos said “Everyone who walks, bikes or drives pass the park way will be able to visually appreciate the garden aesthetically or enjoy the scents that may emanate from the raised herbal garden. Therefore, in answer to who will utilize this space, the community will use the space.” This explains why she wants to plant this garden. It is inevitable that people will end up taking the food we grow, but in the end “those people are obviously in greater need for it then we are”. I am proud to have been affiliated with this project and to have our supervisor explain it to us really helped me understand our purpose.
To make this garden project possible, me and a few people tilled (got glass, rocks, and trash out of the dirt) and upturned the soil in the front of our school, to make planting in it a reality for the future. I would have probably ended up doing this project anyway, but it was nice to be able to fill my community service requirements with this. Working with friends also helped the time go quicker and make the project more fun. I got a lot from this experience. It gave me an appreciation into where my food comes from, especially organic food. it also gave me a better appreciation for farming, and even gardening, I have never realized how difficult it was just to prepare land to grow the food.
Being outdoors was also a great opportunity to take a break from the day indoors, in classrooms and the gym. People would often walk past us and even interact, asking us about our project. I really enjoyed the experience because it also fully allowed me to utilize my abilities as a worker. This was a perfect opportunity for me to contribute to the community.
Overall I’m glad I was able to use manual labor and service as a school project.