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.