On another note, Michelle, Peter and I just began our internship at People’s Grocery, an organization whose mission is to improve people’s health and the economy of West Oakland through the local food system. Okay, so there are only TWO grocery stores in the entire area of West Oakland – not good. As a result, people are getting their “food” from liquor stores and fast food chains, so the health of the community is declining. Peter is helping Larry, the urban garden coordinator, to become more tech-savvy, as well as fixing other computer-based problems that people in the office have. Michelle is helping design the logo for a program called the Growing Justice Initiative, and it is über cool (pictures to come)! I am currently re-designing the open land plot near the office, in order to provide a space for a community vegetable and plant garden. It’s not what I expected I would be doing, but I guess the fact that I am an environmental studies/bio major means that people think I know stuff about soil composition and implementation…let’s just say that I’ve been getting to know Google and the garden coordinators a lot better.
All three of us also have been working in the urban garden near the Cal Hotel, a historic hotel that is currently being renovated to provide housing for low-income residents. So far we have trellised tomato plants, harvested vegetables, and transported compost (Peter and Michelle really love the chickens and oftentimes get distracted… bahahah). Our next task is turning an empty house lot across the street into a social center, complete with basketball hoop. The REALLLY cool part is that People’s Grocery hired professional wall muralists to redesign THEIR ENTIRE OFFICE BUILDING into one giant mural via spray paint art. One day I was out on the lot drawing a model of the land, when one of the muralists rolled over to me in this giant crane-thing (you know, those things that construction workers stand in to fix telephone poles and whatnot) and asked if I wanted to ride in it! So naturally I say yes, and next thing you know, we’re up super high above the building looking down on all the mural awesomeness. There was one point where my arm hit the controller of the machine, kind of swinging us over the busy street. I was like, “I’m so sorry, that was totally my fault!” and he replied, “No no no, you’re not that heavy”… obviously he didn’t realize what I had done. That being said, we had a great nervous laugh about it after. The mural is quite colorful and full of symbolism, and pictures should be up eventually!