Friday, April 3, 2015

Friday, A day of Goodbyes and Good memories - Colin Owens

 The day was a wonderful day, despite the hours upon hours of dirt digging. While it did not seem like we accomplished many tasks, I think we did accomplish the day feeling more together as a Catalyst group. As we said goodbye to Growing Power, I can't help but reflect on our time there this week: walking in as volunteers and then "growing" in service; becoming closer as friends, and as allies for Food Justice!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Day 6 --Cucumbers, Compost, and Coconuts Oh My! With Elise and McKenna

Today was another fun day of working at Growing Power in the morning and Concordia Gardens in the afternoon! We began the day with sorting old food brought in by farmers. The better produce went to the goats and the rotten food went to be composted. Later, we had the opportunity to feed the goats! Some of the goats were rather greedy and did not want to share with the others but otherall they enjoyed their little snack.

Due to rainy weather, some of us stayed inside and grated blocks made of compacted coconut shells. This powder will later be used as fertilizer in the soil for the plants. The job made us very dirty but listening to some music and singing and dancing along made the work go by quick and was a lot of fun. (Not to mention our faces were covered in coconut dust!)

In the afternoon we went to the Concordia Gardens where we had the pleasure to meet Dan, the leader of the community garden, and Yaa, the intern of Americorps. We learned more about smaller scale gardening and community cooperation. Here we helped move their compost pile to another location as well as dig new plots for the community to use. Some of us also weeded out some of the existing garden plots.While working we had a lot of people from the community stop to ask what we were doing and how they too could become involved. It was exciting to see the neighborhood interested in what we were doing.

After we returned to MU and got all cleaned up, we got ready for a night on the town! We went to dinner at The Safe House--a spy themed restaurant in downtown Milwaukee. In order to get into the restaurant, you need to know "The Password" or the door keeper will make the group do something funny/embarrassing in order to get inside through a secret spy entrance. Our group's duty was to do our best zombie impression in order for the door to be revealed. Once inside, our "mission" was waiting for us. We were given a list of things to look for throughout. Some of these things included a two way mirror, a moving wall puzzle, a piece of the Berlin Wall and much, much more! Dinner was AMAZING! Everyone loved the food and ate until we couldn't eat anymore! Leaving The Safe House was another adventure. In order to leave you needed to pay a quarter and go through yet another secret spy underground walkway. Everyone had a BLAST! It was a night we all will remember.
We returned to the apartments and relaxed by playing a bunch of detective group games (to keep with the spy theme of course!) It was great being able to relax after a very busy and work filled few days. We are excited for our last day at Growing Power tomorrow. After having a relaxing evening we will be sure to wake up with lots of energy to work hard!

Events of Wednesday discussed by Rachel H--Feeding America, Growing Power & Campus Kitchen

I'll fill you in a little but on what we did yesterday, Wednesday April 1st.

Yesterday was a rough day physically and mentally mostly because most of us were so sore  and worn out from our first day at Growing Power, we all really went hard on Tuesday! Wednesday morning we went back to Feeding America and our big task for the day was taking the cereal boxes off of boxes of Cheerios and then packing up boxes with 6 bags of Cheerios each. We had to do this since General Mills donated the boxes and didn't want the "Box Tops" on the boxes to be distributed with the actual cereal. It sounds like a simple task to just remove the all of boxes, but just by the sheer number of boxes that we packed up, it was a daunting task. We packed up a total of three big loads, each needing a fork lift to drop them off. It took us a while to get an efficient system down but once we did it felt good to be part of this bigger machine like being that was able to accomplish a big task that one person couldn't accomplish on their own.

What I like about working at Feeding America is the feeling of accomplishment with the amount of food that you get to prepare for shipment and for the people that need it but I would say it has a very different vibe than when we work outside at Growing Power. Both of which are places doing very positive things but in very different ways. After Feeding America we went to Growing for our second day, as I mentioned earlier, it was a little bit more rough doing a lot of physically demanding work but it was another good day to be working outside. I think it was interesting going from being in a warehouse setting working with boxes of processed food and going right to Growing Power where they meticulously created a system that is so sustainable and so based off of the earth's natural cycles to create high-quality fresh produce. I'm not saying that working at Feeding America was a bad experience by any means but I just find it so much more enjoyable to do work outside and with nature compared to an artificial environment, which is probably the more accurate depiction of food in America.

After Growing Power we went to the "Campus Kitchen" program that's organized by Marquette students and helped them prepare food for 4 families. I thought this was a really cool program because I've never heard of something like this, they use food from the cafeteria that otherwise would have been wasted and give it to people that really need it. I really like this idea and think it goes along with the other themes this week of sustainability and trying to get the most out of your resources. I think this could be something that we all could take back to Hamline and it wouldn't be too difficult to do since there is already the resource of good cafeteria food that is thrown out every day.

Yesterday was a long demanding day of service but it was fun that we were able to go to 3 different places that were all so different but similar in the way they were providing food for people in need. They all are extremely resourceful in where they get their from and all very conscious of how food it wasted.

Let's get some "whoo-hooos!" for Worm Wednesday!

Best part of the day this Wonderful Worm Wednesday was the task we had of separating worms and awesome compost at Growing Power. It was back breaking and our arms felt like they were going to come off at the end of the day (buns and thighs, yes!), but in the end it was totally worth it and we all felt muscle-heart-and-soul great. Sadly, I was too busy to take any photos, but hereare  some photos from Thursday! 

On a side note, here is a video comprised of dance moves from Mr. Colin Owens! Enjoy! Muahahaha.

Today was a much easier day compared to yesterday. After moving composts, and feeding food to the goats and worms at growing power, In the afternoon, we went to a new place called Concordia gardens that was established by Victory Gardens Initiative. Concordia gardens is an urban community garden that used to be an abandoned lot. There we also moved resting and active composts.The composts that we moved were pretty repulsive but it's amazing that something delicious and nutritious can come out of them.

The Compost Life

Today we worked at Growing Power in the morning and Concordia Gardens after lunch. We helped separate good fruit and veggies from bad, then fed the good to the goats and fed the bad to the worms. It was wonderful feeding the goats, they were so excited for the eggplant and cucumbers. They went to work munching away, and it was fun feeding them by hand. Four of us then went to grind blocks of coconut type things and grate it though a mesh screen; the powder is used as fertilizer for the plants. We were incredibly dirty afterwards, the powder went everywhere. After lunch we stopped at Collectivo, a coffee shop that grinds huge burlap bags of coffee right in the shop (at least at this location). At Concordia Gardens, we the man who runs it is employed by Victory Gardens, and the place is just in its second year. We helped move a compost containment area made from wood planks and pallets over, as well as the compost. I'm beginning to feel like we basically live and breathe compost at the moment--definitely positive since compost is so nourishing for the soil. The people there were also wonderful, and it was a positive experience.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Growing Power Day 1

Today was the first day we went to the Growing Power facility in Milwaukee. It was exciting to actually meet in person the man who started it all, Will Allen. It was very interesting to learn a little bit about him and Growing Power, through Karen Parker. The director of the facility and a close friend of Will Allen. Our tasks for today included, shoveling compost, moving plants and petting goats. It was a long and physically demanding day but it was super fun. Can't wait to go back tomorrow.

Growing Stronger With Growing Power By Madison Nowling

Today we went and spent the entire day at Growing Power, an organization in Milwaukee that grows sustainable, fresh food for the community. They really had a little bit of everything: chickens, goats, compost, aquaponic systems, and of course, greenhouses full of plants. To clarify, aquaponic systems are basically self-sustaining mechanisms that house fish like tilapia or yellow perch, with plants grown above to provide nutrients for the water, which in turn nourishes the plants. They also had vermicompost, which is compost made by worms (they have amazing dirt-producing capabilities!). We were given a tour of their facility before we got to work. Growing Power is located in an urban setting, and they have greenhouses spread throughout the city, as well as connections and facilities in other cities. Most of the day we moved pots of red chard and other vegetables from one greenhouse to another and shoveled out compost that had been keeping the greenhouses warm during the winter to the main piles. It was strenuous work but also extraordinarily fulfilling. I felt accomplished, productive, and happy I could help out everyone who works so hard every day to keep the place running smoothly. Everyone was so incredibly kind and generous. The director--a truly wonderful woman--told us the story of Growing Power, and how the the man who started it all, Will Allen, strove through a tough beginning and made it work. Of course, it wouldn't have been possible without help from dedicated people like her, and the love needed for such an endeavor. She told us how Will Allen never becomes angry--he says it's a waste of energy, and instead, we should use it to get stronger. Hence the inspiration for the title: we not only got physically stronger at Growing Power, we grew stronger as a team, and as human beings.
Nasturtium, a wonderful plant with edible leaves and flowers 

One of the aquaponic systems

Monday, March 30, 2015

Milwaukee Catalyst Blog Post Day 3 Merry Snyder

Today was a fantastic day! We had the great opportunity to visit two different service sites. We started our day out at Feeding America which is a food donation center. They specifically focus on serving Eastern Wisconsin and last year distributed over 8.3 million pounds of food. In Eastern Wisconsin they have over 377,000 people who face hunger and this company helps to relieve some of that. At this service site we packaged food so it could be shipped to different food shelves and food pantries in the area. We packaged: soups, sauces, noodles, meat, and vegetables. This was an amazing experience seeing the quantities of food that were donated and distributed. However, it was also a large realization for all of us because they had such quantities and they were only barely touching on the poverty and hunger that some people face each day. Although this was a service site and our focus was on the service we were doing, we still managed to have a little bit of fun :)

The next site we visited was the Urban Ecology Center. The Ecology center started with a neighborhood park being crime and liter ridden. The people within the neighborhood came up with a great plan. So they turned the park into a learning center. The center is still today used to teach others. They focus on teaching about sustainability and science within nature. Their organization has now expanded to two other locations and is thriving. At this service site we picked up trash that was left on a park and the nature preserve. This was a great way for us to make connections between food justice and sustainability.

At the end of the day before we all called it a night, we got to visit Lake Michigan. It was a beautiful site and we would recommend anyone to visit. I hope you are enjoying hearing about our lovely trip. 

Feeding America & Urban Ecology ♧☆♤ - Kia

From 9-12pm we packed TONS of food to be sent to those in need. We also went to the Urban Ecology center to clean up the local area and admire the beauty of nature! Havingtons of fun with amazing leaders! 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Catalyst Trip Day 2-Milwaukee.

The weather today was pretty grey and gloomy so the group stayed inside for most of the day. We did a few team building exercises. We planned on going out to the Milwaukee Art Museum to see some of the art but it turned out to be reserved for the day. So instead we went to the Public Market.

Day 2 - Elise

Today we started off the morning with fun group bonding games to help us wake up and learn more about each other! My personal favorite was leading Big Booty. For the rest of the morning and afternoon we learned about the many factors that play into the formation of food deserts and food insecurity. Some of the factors we discussed are oppression, cultural racism, institutional racism, white supremacy and racial disparities.
Later in the afternoon we all went to the Milwaukee Art Museum and took some artsy pictures.


Little did we know, we had unintentionally entered a closed event without paying. Soon after we entered the museum we had to leave.

 Instead we went to the Milwaukee Food Market and enjoyed looking at different trinkets. Fun Fact: almost everyone got to try eating fresh mussels!

Team Building and Exploring the City By Madison

So today we officially went out into the city (yesterday a few of us explored on foot). In the morning, though, we focused on team building and further education about food deserts. It was hard getting out of bed in the morning! Slowly, we all started to wake up with various energizers such as a shake-down and Where the Big Wind Blows. Some of these activities helped us learn more about our team, such as the latter, and Hot Seat, where one person was asked questions for about five minutes each. Afterwards, we were given an activity where we had to match up definitions to their words. Examples include Race, Social Equity, Privilege, Food Sovereignty, Food Security, and Institutional Racism. I thought it would be a lot easier than it was: we really had to work together to piece each definition to its word, with much trial and error. The collaborative effort definitely made it easier, though, and it was good practice in cooperation. Then we split into two groups to talk about what food deserts are and who they effect. Food deserts are basically areas where there is a lack of access to nutritious, healthy food. These tend to be in urban areas, and often affect those with a lower economic status, and minority groups. Overall, a beneficial discussion.

When we left the apartment, our first stop was the Milwaukee Art Museum. It was a gorgeous structure located right on Lake Michigan. The Great Lakes just astound me with their size and beauty. I've only seen Lake Superior before today, but its just as incredible. Coming from Minnesota, it's so unusual not being able to see a bank on the other side. The building reminded me a bit of a spaceship on the inside, though outside it looked more nautical, with the white sides curving up to a point. Little did we know that the entire building was rented out for an event--we had no idea and had to leave unfortunately. Luckily we got to go to the Market, which is like a little conglomeration of shops in one building, featuring bakeries, food stands, a place that sold flavored olive oils and balsamic vinegar, fresh fruit and veggies, and a floral shop. A few of us left for a coffee shop named Collectivo before we left for the apartment.  We also got to try oysters, which I thought were pretty good this time around, especially with a little bit of salt.

Yesterday, we went out exploring before turning in for the night. The buildings here are utterly amazing, I was surprised at the old architecture! The library was especially beautiful, and just massive (picture included). On our way, we also went past a beautiful cathedral and an interesting red church with a tall steeple. We didn't go too far since it was pretty cold last night and getting late, but it was nice to get to know the area a bit. Some of us are in the process of cooking dinner, black bean burgers, which will be a new experience. I'm definitely looking forward to our first day of service tomorrow!
Fish at the Market!
The Milwaukee Art Museum

A bird's eye view of the Market

A weird little building near the Market I thought was intriguing 
What a majestic library

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Rachel H--First Day of Trip Success!! Excited to get started

It's the first day of the trip and we arrived safely in Milwaukee, it was a long drive out but it feels good to finally be here! I've been to Milwaukee once before and driven through a couple times but once again I was impressed by how beautiful Milwaukee is as we were driving in with all of the older buildings. That feeling of excitement as I arrive to a new place makes me want to dive into this trip and start the service we will be doing! This is my third Catalyst trip and my favorite part about these trips is learning more about something that I previously knew little to nothing about, getting a lot of different perspectives on the issues, and then working as a team as we learn how to be part of the solution to a social issue. We'll keep you posted as we get further into our journey!

March 28th 2015 - Food and Long Car Naps


The seven hour drive to Milwaukee was a blast. We went from checking out all the Wisconsin cheese in a gas station to stuffing ourselves with the taste of Culvers. Wow @that mushroom swiss burger that dripped with oil. Literally. Home made dinner with the Milwaukee crew tasted healthier, mmhmm exactly why we're on this awesome Food Justice driven trip! Eat your greens!

Kia Xiong

Greetings and Arrival!

Hello Everyone! 

So far, it has been a long drive to Milwaukee, but we are here and ready for action!

Milwaukee Catalyst Trip Merry Snyder Blog Day 1

We got going bright and early this morning at 9:00 am. We had a day packed full of driving to Milwaukee with our fabulous driver Nancy. We arrived safe and sound and ready for a nap at around 4:00 pm. We went food shopping then, which was fun because each of us split into groups (based off of who our roommates are for the trip) and filled our carts up nice and full. After shopping we went back to our dorms at Marquette and a few of us made a delicious meal of grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. We then promptly cleaned up and now we have free time to do as we wish. It was a fun filled day of traveling and getting to know each other. Fun fact: The dorm we are staying in used to be a children's hospital and morgue. Keep reading to find out more on what we do on our trip:)

Monday, March 23, 2015

Welcome to our blog!

This blog will chronicle our experience on the Milwaukee Catalyst Alternative Spring Break Trip. We can't wait to share what we learn. Check back for updates! We'll be in Milwaukee March 28th through April 4th.