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25 Jun

22 (I’ll turn 23 in August!) lessons I’ve learned from my Public Allies experience!

1. Motivation is communicating energy to someone in their own language.
2. The best resource in any community is its people.
3. Don’t talk about what you think of the world; talk about what you will do for the world.
4. Don’t just accept what you’re told.  Is it right?  Is there a better way?  Is it progress?
5. “I have endeavored to seize the beautiful opportunities here.”
6. To reach the community, you must acknowledge and employ their values.
7. “… but at this time, human dignity is the most important thing in my life.”
8. Don’t quit the movement.  Wrap your hands and hearts around justice.
9. “I used to say love don’t live here no more.  But I was wrong: Love lives everywhere.”
10. Examine what you tolerate.
11. Direct your aggression toward the method, not the perpetrators.
12. Ask why.  And when you get an answer, ask again.
13. Celebrate small victories.
14. How can I best contribute? To the world? My family? My friends? My work? My community?
15. Stand still for a moment and just be in awe of everything.
16. Si se puede!
17. Balance & moderation.
18. Keep your energy moving.
19. “You can’t serve the people if you don’t love them.  You can’t love the people if you don’t know them.”
20. Respeto es un derecho humano.
21. Namaste: The light in me reflects the light in you.
22. You can’t have a bad day every day.
One more for good luck!: Half way through my Public Allies term I discovered the following quote.  It’s carried me through some of the tougher times this year and reminds me that there’s still so much in store.  “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” – Mary Oliver, poet

Starting in October, I’ll be heading out to the West Coast to serve a second AmeriCorps term with the National Civilian & Community Corps.  I’ll be based in Sacramento, California conducting various service projects around the region.

My experience with Public Allies Connecticut has taught me valuable community engagement skills and given me incredible opportunities to engage in service for my community.  So bringing it full circle, I never had white picket fence dreams.  But my experience with Public Allies has taught me I don’t need ’em!


How do you measure a year in the life? (Shout to RENT fans!)

18 May

Hey folks,

So as you can imagine, things are getting pretty hectic as we wind down the year. Public Allies were asked to serve for one academic- length year/ 10 months/ 1700 hours. Most were conducted at our nonprofit Placements, as well as our Continuous Learning (CL) Fridays and Team Service Projects (TSPs).

So how do you measure a year in the life? Here’s what I came up with:

In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of tea

In cubicles, in volunteerism, wall decorations

In phone calls, in documentaries, in leadership panels

One hundred and two thousand, zero minutes

How do you measure a year?

In service, in gratification, in learning, in mileage reports

In service days, in counseling youth, in running work events

In AmeriCorps gear, in potlucks, in museum visits

One hundred and two thousand, zero minutes

How do you measure the life of a Public Ally?

It’s time now to sing out, tho’ the story never ends

Let’s celebrate, remember a year in the life of friends

Remember the growth! Remember the growth! Seasons of growth!

P.S. Here’s the theme song from the Broadway hit!

P.P.S. Can you tell I’m half laughing, half crying as I write this? I am SO corny. 🙂

What do Domo, a lion’s mane, peace signs, and crumpled soda cans have in common?

14 May

Domo, a lion’s mane, peace signs, and crumpled soda cans are all images that will be used as part of the Bridgeport Beautifies component of our PA Beloved Bridgeport Team Service Project!

Kids at the Boys & Girl’s Club had a blast painting Domo (a Japanese character now popular in pop culture) and peace signs on trash containers that will be placed on the campus of Bassick High School (BHS) in Bridgeport, CT.

An incredibly talented BHS student designed a “Past & Future” drawing that will be painted as a mural in the student lounge at BHS.  The “Past” incorporates crumpled trash cans while the “Future” shows off school pride with an image of the BHS mascot, a lion.



We’re excited to do our final Bridgeport Beautifies event on Saturday, Cinco de Mayo!  Updates to come!

Museum Heist- because we’re “stealing” knowledge!

27 Apr

One of my most interesting Public Allies experiences has been the recent Self- Directed Continuous Learning (CL) Friday.  #ThingsYouShouldKnow: I’m sort of a curiosity junkie. [Do hashtags even work on sites that are not Twitter? #seriousquestion]  What I mean by that is that I’m curious about almost everything, especially different facets of culture- our own and others’!  So when my fellow Bridgeport Allies decided to use our Self- Directed CL Friday to do some museum hopping in NYC, I just couldn’t say no.  We spent the day exploring the Forbes and Sony Tech Museums.  I learned a ton and had a grand ol’ time doing it!


I couldn’t resist taking this opportunity to put up my very own crochetbomb (Knit- and crochet- bombing is a positive mischief movement to create color and fun in an otherwise drab area; more info here).  This one is in front of the Forbes Museum, but I plan to start putting them up around my hometown of Bridgeport soon!

P.S. Sorry for all the cheesy hashtags (#SorryImNotSorry).  I’ll try not to use them in the next post. (#yeahright)

P.P.S. Shout out to my fellow Bridgeport Ally Melissa for coming up with the great slogan!

Beloved Bridgeport

4 Apr

Hey folks!

I wanted to take some time to fill you all in on the progress of our TSP (Team Service Project).  We’ve decided to call it Beloved Bridgeport, a play on Martin Luther King’s Beloved Community Theory which calls for engagement in the community by all residents and stakeholders.  Beloved Bridgeport has three subsets:

EYEM (Every You Every Me): We are putting on a series of anti- violence workshops in local middle schools.  We’re tackling dating/ intimate partner violence, gang violence, bullying, and suicide.  Below Ben performs a monologue describing a young boy who is teased for having wear athletic goggles during sports classes.

Bridgeport Beautifies: A continuation of the previous class’ project.  We are doing maintenance work on local community gardens as well as trash container decorating and distribution for local high schools.

Community Connect: A resource fair intended to connect residents to local resources, to be held in early June.  Below, Bridgeport Program Manager RJ Mercede poses with a poster we made.

We’re really excited about having this opportunity to make a positive impact on our community!  What ideas do you have for a mini TSP (or Individual Service Project) of your own?

Mi vida en colores

9 Mar

Mi Vida en Colores

Rojo:  the signature color of Public Allies!

Anaranjado: Bridgeport Ally Tinesha Sneed is known among the Public Allies CT (PACT) community for her fabulous orange glasses!  That’s her listening during a Continuous Learning (CL Friday)!

Amarillo:  Ally Ben Pharr can often be found snacking on a bright yellow bag of Peanut M&Ms during our weekly TSP meetings, yum!

Verde: The Bridgeport Allies are very green oriented.  One of our three tenets for our Team Service Project (TSP) is a beautification initiative to clean up some of the local high schools.

Azul: We all look up and see the same big, blue sky.  We are a community, all in this together.

Violeta: Samantha Santos is the informal secretary of the Bridgeport Allies- and boy, would we be lost without her!  She always has her handy dandy purple notebook to keep track of everything that needs to get done for our TSP.

Look for a post detailing the work of our TSP soon!

“And what have you learned from this experience?”

24 Feb

…Sounds like something a therapist might say to you while you’re lying on the couch looking at ink blots, right?  In this case, PACT (Public Allies Connecticut) staff asked Allies this question.  In response, Allies conducted our POLs (Presentations of Learning), during which we were given five minutes to describe what we have learned during the past five months.  The best part was that we were given license to be creative.  Here are my favorites!

Ducks in a Row: Andrew Christhie uses a community of ducks (under the guidance of a kind farmer) to illustrate PA values of collaboration, focus on assets, and diversity & inclusion.

SolarWhat? Julie Carson created a word cloud and encouraged audience members to ask questions about any of the words.  As a response, she told a story about a PACT experience related to the word.

Everything I Didn’t Learn in Kindergarten: Lizzy Star shared her notebook of sketches illustrating, among other PACT experiences, the Rule of Reluctance: The experiences you embrace the least, are often the ones that teach you the most. Check it out below!

Lizzy Star mini POL

Bonus/ Throwback: Matt Ashby, New Haven Ally from the 2010/ 2011 class wrote and performed this Debrief/ Closing circle (PA tradition) song for his mid- year POL.

Listen to it here

Also, click here to check out Derek Santiago’s POL Infomercial on fellow blogger Phil Drew’s posts!