Tag Archives: TSP

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?


Meet Dee

2 Apr

Meet Dee. She is a Fellow Pittsburgh Public Ally working at Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy “to improve quality of life for the people of Pittsburgh by restoring the park system to excellence in partnership with the City.”

I am proud to say she is also on my team service project. I continue to learn a lot from Dee. I tend to over-think things and stress about the “small stuff”. She is a team member that can calm me down and think realistically about goals and outcomes about our project.

Together, with 6 other Pittsburgh Public Allies, we are partnering with a local nonprofit to engage youth in learning healthy lifestyle choices by facilitating service opportunities through organic gardening. (Expect a post later this week about the final presentations of each team service project this year from Pittsburgh!)

Community work day at Wangari Gardens

29 Mar

I’ve never really had a green thumb. In college they gave each incoming freshman a plant to care for. I showed up late to pick mine up and ended up with a wilted fern, already not long for this world. Needless to say, it was dead by October break.

So, it is a little strange that, of all of the possible hobbies to pick up, gardening became one of them. On the surface it seems to combine everything that I hate (insects, being outside in the heat) with everything that I am terrible at (following through with things, manual labor). But, this weekend I found myself back in the garden, this time working with Wangari Gardens here in D.C.

One of our three TSP teams has taken on Wangari Gardens as their project for the spring, and they kindly invited the rest of the cohort along for the first work day. I was really excited to be involved, both so that I could get my hands dirty, and because of the fantastic mission that drives Wangari Gardens.

The project is a tribute to Wangari Maathai, an inspirational Kenyan Nobel Laureate, Professor, and founder of the Green Belt Movement. In 1977 Maathai began encouraging women to plant trees in response to a lack of firewood. This seemingly simple act not only gave the women a degree of financial independence, but also addressed some of the challenges of deforestation, soil erosion, and water scarcity. They became stewards of their own natural environment and began to work outside of the western-dominated system that had been oppressing them financially and ecologically.

Wangari Gardens has a similar goal — offering an alternative to a largely corrupt and unsustainable food system by allowing residents to plant and maintain their own garden plots. Growing your own food is such a tangible and effective way to control what you put into your body. To paraphrase Michael Pollan, we vote on what kind of food we want to eat three times a day. If, instead of eating heavily processed food, we choose a locally grown, fresh, organic option, we are demonstrating our awareness of the ecological pitfalls of factory farms, the socioeconomic drawbacks of an agricultural industry built on corn subsidies, and the public health risks associated with a diet rich in processed food. But that will have to be fodder for another blog entry.

I will say that the workday on Sunday went really well, with huge turnout from the surrounding community, and an astounding amount of work getting done. If you are in the D.C. area, I’d encourage you to check Wangari Gardens out to see how you can get involved. If you are not in the area, I’d still encourage you to check out the project and some of the information on Wangari Maathai. She is truly an inspirational woman, and her work is not often recognized in America. And to see how much work we did in one day, check out before and after photos below, courtesy of my fellow ally Kate Stritzinger.

Taken at 10:30 AM

Taken at 4:50 PM

Putting the ‘work’ in team work

5 Mar

“team work.” A charged phrase. What comes to mind for you? I’ve facilitated outdoor team building activities for the last 4 years and kids from 8 to 80 have thrown out the key words: trust, respect, leadership, cooperation, strategizing, encouragement, support… You know the list.

But what about ‘work’? As we reach the mid-point of our year in Baltimore, we’re all busy with our placements, and sometimes second jobs or family life. However, a major component of Public Allies, is a team service project- to put our training into practice together. All the MD Public Allies service project teams presented their projects and progress to the group 2 weeks ago. In project prep, we divided and conquered: Jon and Allen on Prezi prep (check it out!), Sharon and I finalized the project plan notes, others took photos, wrote background pieces and prepared a rap with which to end the presentation. We made a great showing as a team.

But what about the project itself? Our project’s focus is parent engagement at the Augusta Fells High School for the Visual Arts- a public turn-around community school in West Baltimore. The project was our second choice, and it was difficult to know how we’d integrate ourselves into the school which none of us had a relationship with before the somewhat daunting project of involving parents we didn’t know into a school we didn’t know. No small obstacle to doing as Americorps has us do, which is “get things done.”

With our pretty presentation all done, it’s time for our team to figure out in what ways we’ll take action on a short term project with many barriers to community investment. We have a wonderful, engaged social worker guiding our project within the school but there is no grade, no grant money to be lost, and no boss: no one to truly hold us accountable to completion but one another.

Henceforth I’ll be keeping y’all posted on this blog- here’s to modern social media accountability!

Because we’ve got the team- all we now need is to do the work.

Celebrating MLK day the Chicago way!

14 Feb

“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.” ~
Imagine by John Lennon

This year for Martin Luther King, Jr Day, Public Allies Chicago had five separate events. Four of the events served as a kick-off for the different Team Service Projects that PAChicago has.

Celebrating Diversity in Evanston 

Second year Allies assisted Y.O.U. Evanston with their “Diverse Evanston Walks United” (DEWU) event at the Music Institute of Chicago. The portion DEWU the second years helped with featured guest speakers, youth performers, and a live portait artist. The second years primarily assisted with set-up, break down, and running of the event. Here are a couple photos from their event:

Tom and Jessica chair set up      Crowd       YOU Evanston

Safe Sex Packet Distribution

The A-Team and their partner organization Illinois Caucus of Adolescent Health (ICAH) put together 700 packets of safe sex information and distributed them to some of Chicago’s highest STI rate areas. The A-Team will be building a teen sexual health curriculum with ICAH. Here are Team A members Aisha and Ruben tell you about their MLK Day endeavors:

Celebrating Peace by Creating Ideal Communities

Team New Edition kicks off their team service project with the Peace School by working with a small group of Chicago Public School students. Their day featured Meditation and group activities.

Group activity



Peace Activity 1

Group Activity 2

The purpose: help to promote the group’s focus on building ideal and peaceful communities within Chicago in two Community Colleges of Chicago. Here is a photo of Team New Edition and their participants:
Team New Edition and participants

Bringing Justice the Food Way

Team New Adults on the Block and their partner organization Empowerment through Education and Exposure (EEE) provided meals for 60 women who are currently homeless at Breakthrough Urban Ministries. They spent the morning preparing the meals, helped with serving, and then conversed with some of the women there. Here are some photos from their day:

Food Prep 1 Food prep Food Prep 3 Serving 4

Save the Best for Last, Eyes on Youth Homelessness

My TSP, Group Z, and our partner organization Alternatives, Inc. kicked off their storytelling and youth homelessness project with a clothing drive, art activities, and a round table discussion about youth homelessness. Here are a few photos from our service day:

Alternatives front door       photo (11) Group Z creating MLK Day sign    photo (8)photo (5)

photo (1)   photo

To see the rest of the photos from the MLK Day events, please visit the Public Allies Chicago Facebook page.