Footprints… but not the carbon kind.

31 Jan

Hi all,

So this past January 16th, members of the Public Allies Connecticut community (including alumni, friends, and family) conducted a Service Day in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  Volunteers were assigned to one of four projects, all focused on conservation and environmental stewardship:

1. Working with clients of Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services (IRIS) of New Haven, educating on energy usage

2.Working with the Neighborhood Housing Services of New Haven, conducting home beautification efforts

3. Working with the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, engaging local youth in creation of seedbombs (For more info about seedbombs, check out 2.0 Ally Veronica Swain’s blog post here about her work during the service day!)

4. And my assignment- Working with the City of New Haven’s Office of Sustainability, distributing information about the city’s new single- stream recycling and no- cost home energy audit initiatives.  My friends Rachel and Jesse joined myself and Allies Samantha, Melissa and Al in a small group for our assignment.  We were armed with leaflets about the two services and asked to go door-to-door explaining the services to New Haven residents.

I’ll admit, it wasn’t my favorite assignment.  The biting cold, lack of sunshine in the building’s shadows, and the daunting map of neighborhoods we were to cover on foot were enough to dampen my enthusiasm.  Furthermore, few people were home so there was minimal interaction with others.

But wonder of wonders, debrief/ closing circle (a Public Allies tradition) was what put the Day of Service back in perspective for me.  Discussing the tangible effects of our efforts, personal interactions with those served, and the types of legacies we’d like to leave behind reminded me that we conduct service for the benefit of the greater community.  It’s not about us.  It’s about them.

I like to think that we left both literal and figurative footprints that day.  Or rather, we reduced carbon footprints that day.  In fact, one of our program managers reported that the Office of Sustainability had received sixteen energy audit requests just three days after our service day!  I love being part of Public Allies and having the opportunity to engage in such service experiences.  More in the future!

P.S. Check out this TED talk we were given as prep work for the service day.  It’s Majora Carter, and titled Greening the Ghetto: Tales of Urban Renewal.

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