Tag Archives: Public Allies Connecticut

This is Why My Hart Beats

17 Jul

Below is my letter to the panelists reviewing my Presentation of Learning. It’s been a great year!

Dear Panel Members:

Thank you for taking the time to be here today. In the tale of my 22 months here in Hartford, this presentation marks the final chapter. You have all been central to my story and are central to the community that I have identified so strongly with.

During my initial Public Allies interview, I was asked, “How do you define community?” I hashed together a few thoughts and examples which I won’t bore you with. The truth is, I didn’t know. The only reason coherent sentences came out of my mouth was because in my first 7 months in Hartford I had began to grasp the concept of community. I want to remind you today that the term ‘community’ is abstract and difficult to grasp for most people in your community. All of us here have some understanding that ‘community’ means something different to each person, but do we understand that not everyone has had the experience necessary to define community for themselves? Just as an Oceanographer understands deep sea carbon sequestration and an Educator understands Piaget’s conservation of mass experiment and a Mathematician understands how to calculate the volume of a solid with rotational symmetry using disk integration and a Psychologist understands that there actually is no such thing as multi-tasking and a Philosopher can tell you that this list is actually an attempt at a logical statement…  a Public Ally understands community. And a good Political Scientist understands how important that is. There is an important distinction, however, between all of these seemingly analogous statements. Understanding community through my time with Public Allies gave me a passion for learning and work that was absent in all the other fields. That is a lesson so valuable that it may take me a lifetime to figure out what it’s worth, but I’ll wager it’s worth something close to a lifetime.

So now I close the book on my time here in Hartford, taking with me lessons and relationships that will last forever. I have confidence in my abilities, I think I’ve learned a tinge of modesty, I’ve developed new skills, and I’m beginning to understand who I am. I’ll never forget the community where all of this came to happen because, by my definition, my community here in Connecticut was the first community I was ever a part of.

Thank you for letting me ramble on, for letting me start sentences with conjunctions and end them with prepositions, and for being some of the most important people in my life.


Philip Drew – Hartford, CT



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!

Global Youth Service Day – Reflection & Planning

30 Apr

Global Youth Service Day (GYSD) was last weekend, April 20-22! Although I’ve worked on other projects this year, GYSD is the central part of my Public Ally term of service. I am, after all, Our Piece of the Pie’s “2012 Global Youth Service Day Coordinator” … or I was. With the big day (April 21st) behind me, I’m experiencing an odd combination of feeling relief and feeling like I lost something very important. On my first day at Our Piece of the Pie, I was handed a massive binder left by last year’s GYSD Coordinator.

Since that day in September, everything I’ve worked on has been directly or indirectly geared towards a successful Global Youth Service Day. For the last month, I don’t think there is a single waking hour that I haven’t worked on, thought about, or talked about Global Youth Service Day… and I’ve certainly dreamed about it enough too. A few people have joked that I have a talent for turning any conversation topic into a discussion on Global Youth Service Day. I swear I’m not that self-involved… it’s just been the only thing bouncing around in my head! Regardless, a big THANK YOU is in order for all the people who have put up with me for the past month! The planning details are the boring bits of this whole story, but they give a glimpse at what I’ve spent the past months on. Here are some of the tasks involved in the GYSD planning process:

  • Find a venue for the main GYSD event, make arrangements with their staff, draft an MoU for the partnership, and understand the benefits and limitations of the facility
  • meet with community partners in planning meetings and one-on-one
  • creat and distribute flyers, permission forms, and other promotional materials
  • recruit youth volunteers at various schools and after-school programs
  • develop or support the development of over 30 service projects
  • work with the Department of Health and Human Services and the Fire Department to complete necessary permits and understand all safety concerns
  • write a Proclamation and work with the Mayor’s Office to have the Mayor and staff attend events and service projects
  • write a press release
  • seek in-kind donations (made easy by a HUGE food donation from the ShopRite of Manchester, CT)
  • buy multiple van-loads of supplies from Home Depot, BJ’s (warehouse store), and elsewhere
  • and lots more!

It’s been a whirlwind, but it’s over now and the day was a great success! I’ve received a lot of positive feedback and congratulations from others, but I always knew the toughest critic would be myself. I’m still totaling volunteer numbers, receiving photographs, reviewing surveys, and reading project reports; so I hope to only hear more good things! I’ll post a few more blogs on Global Youth Service Day events, projects, and outcomes over the next week!

Philip Drew – Hartford, CT

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!

“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!