Saturday, March 24, 2012

The end...? No.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Hey, this is Orin.
Today the group spilt up again - half to St. Martin De Porres and half to Project Open Hand. I personally went to POH. There's a description of POH below and a synopsis of St. Martins is scheduled for tomorrow for all you daily readers, so I won't go into too much detail. Instead, you're welcome to follow me while I recap some of my thoughts from the day and week.
I've been thinking about spaces, how we relate to them, and what kinds of actions are acceptable in those spaces. Food is essential, and as such, can help to create a space. The idea of a table has come up a few times as the physical representation of this. All of the service sites we've been to have worked to create very specific environments for people to eat in. At POH the people who came to get food were referred to as clients. The clients who come to POH walk through a grocery store environment at their own convenience. Options are in units and slightly limited, but in the end, there are plenty of choices and everything is great quality (due to government subsidies and bulk purchasing). Initially I was a little uncomfortable with the term clients and the almost clinical sterility of the facility. However, it makes more sense in reflection. Most of the clients are HIV/AIDS positive. This means that they need a cleanly environment because of their weakened immune systems. Also, as terminal individuals, it makes sense that they would respond well to the extra autonomy and respect that POH provides.
Each of the locations was very different in the space that they provided, but equally, they all serve slightly different and specific demographics. I have a favorite (bets are out), but only with the consideration that it was the location that fits my personality more than the others, and that each is necessary for the unique space it provides.

Anyways, afterwards we went to China Town a few blocks to the north and east of the tenderloin. I bought a tea-bag that unfolds with a flower (for glass tea-pots only) and some bulk seaweed for soups. I also got some snappers for all of those moments that need a tad more surprise, and sang an impromptu song of sorts outside the fortune cookie factory. We saw a real life Banksy for all of the street art fans out there, and took the trolly the 5 blocks back west. A full day.

If this was your favorite post, please text "Side of steamed rice" to 32665

A Wednesday in San Francisco

Hello everyone! This is Jessica and Kyrie, coming to you live at the hour of 12:14 a.m. This morning, after enjoying a good night's sleep, the whole group took off for The Free Farm--an operation to lovingly give healthy organic produce to anyone who so needs it. Before beginning some hard labor in the hot sun (many of us now suffer from the dreaded sunburn), Tree--owner of The Free Farm--talked to us about his goals. We really appreciated his idea of a revolution centered around a table--everyone deserves healthy food. He compared his mission to Gandhi's mission to empower the people to spin their own cotton, create their own clothing, and therefore gain autonomy.

credit to Kendra Boyle Hoban

We broke out the gardening gloves as some of us helped harvest and clear away some of the land, while another group of us helped re-pot lettuce plants. Our work definitely varied from the sweaty, laborious task of composting to the tedious separation of the roots of the baby lettuce. Before lunch, a few of us were so blessed to talk with a man named Bob and his dog. This comical character shared with us a number of his creative ideas for The Free Farm. We were delighted to talk to him, and he expressed his gratitude over simple conversation more than once. This experience really demonstrated to us the importance, yet ease, with which someone's day can be made significantly brighter.

Moving on to an absolutely delicious lunch/potluck, we shared some splendid conversation with each other as well as with the other workers and volunteers at The Free Farm today. After enjoying yummy and wholesome vegan soup, as well as salad, quinoa, chips, fruit, and sandwiches, a man named Pancho shared his great passion for food justice with our group. He really stressed the importance of the individual, and the power of the populace. Specifically, "it's not about putting people into power, it's about putting power in the people." After cleaning up, we headed out back into the field to continue working by clearing and tilling the soil to prepare for potatoes to be planted. We were also given the opportunity to walk a labyrinth organically constructed within the garden. After saying our goodbyes, we returned to the hostel to clean up, nurse our sunburns, and relax before making the steepest trek our journey in the hilly land of San Francisco has brought us.

As we walked to Grace Cathedral, we were really struck by the stark contrast between the neighborhoods we were walking through. Although we walked less than a mile, we witnessed both extremes of the economic classes San Francisco has to offer. In the neighborhood closest to our hostel, people with nearly nothing crowded the streets waiting for a free dinner to be served at Glide, but after turning a corner and walking just one to two blocks, we saw many a classy winery, fancy hotel, and shiny Mercedes. Numerous questions arose as to how and why this difference so intensely existed. Grace Cathedral gave us some time to reflect on these ideas as some of us walked another labyrinth, meditated or prayed in pews, and explored the beauty of the traditional cathedral. With intimate candlelight, intricate artwork and decor, kneeling benches, and stained glass windows, this church had a lot to take in. Also featured within the church was a quilt dedicated to those who had lost their lives to HIV/AIDS. Though we climbed nearly a mountain to get to this cathedral, we definitely found it worthwhile for the thought-provoking experience it provided.

We then returned to the hostel, enjoyed a delicious quinoa dinner (we just can't get enough quinoa, apparently), spent some time reflecting over a moving day, and spent the rest of the evening hanging out and enjoying each others' company. Now, it's off to bed to see what adventures tomorrow brings!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

day four - proj. open hands

Kiefer here, blogging for the peeps who helped out at Project Open Hands this morning.  POH is a nonprofit organization that helps feed those in need for those who are battling HIV/AIDS.  We started out by getting a background about how POH was began and how it grew almost overnight.  The volunteer coordinator, Rachel, then led us throughout the building which contained many stations for gathering food for people in the community to choose from.  A popular item that we helped put together was trail mix, which we got to try and was absofruitly fantastic.  We then helped cut egg cartons in half, whilst trying to not crack the eggs.  I failed at that and we lost about 3 eggs.  Sad day.

After we were done volunteering, we were offered a free lunch that all of the other volunteers get to partake in.  Seeing a room of people who are not paid for this work and all doing it for various reasons was great to see people coming together to really make a difference.  Rachel told us that this organization runs on volunteers, having over 1,000 that dedicate their time towards POH.  The lunch was delicious, consisting of two diff. soups and many salad choices.  I have 3 bowls and 1 cup of tater leek soup.  Straight up nom-city.  

Sarayray then gathered us to go out into the community of the tenderloin and check out various markets and their price ranges/differences and report back.  I was paired with Brittany and Kyrie and the first market we went to was called Simone's market.  As we were writing prices down, the manager got up and asked us if we needed any help.  We asked him the price of a bag of rice, to which he responded, "are you going to buy it or just write it down?"  We were vastly confused why the snarky tone was being brought forth.  We told him we were comparing prices to find the best deal, and he then got more defensive and proceeded to tell us to leave.  I was shocked.  Angry.  Peeved.

We didn't understand where the anger was from. After a taco bell run to calm us down (well, I needed a taco after that ordeal), we gathered back to discuss our encounters.  After sharing what had happened with us with the rest of the group, we decided that we perhaps might have been racially profiled.  This term is fairly new to me and had never happened, so I didn't really know what to think of it.  It made me realize that the owners depend on people purchasing their items, and for us to just waltz in without intention of buying anything, that must have perturbed them.  While I feel that I have the right to just browse, they took it as insulting.  This discussion we all had was really intimate and put a lot into perspective.  The fact that we are open to sharing really is a testament to how close we are getting.  It feels so effortless and for that, I am thankful.  

I believe that God had me experience this situation to realize that I am privileged and should appreciate where I come from; that for my job, I don't have to depend on others for my support system.  Also, I believe that He wanted my friends be able to calm me down and make me realize that culture shock is real, and not to be quick to anger, but understand what I can do in that situation.  

Great day, huge experience, intimate discussion.  I feel blessed.

Day 3- Glide and Sightseeing

Hi everyone, Brittney and Kendra here to reflect on day 3 of our San Fran trip. The day again started off with a trip to Glide. This time some of us were able to experience a different part of the program than we did the previous day. Many of the people who had come through the doors today had been there the day before. Something that stood out to us was the Glide patron’s request for more sugar than they were given on their prepared trays. The sugar gives their food more taste and, as a result, is a very sought after commodity. 

An interesting thought that comes to mind is that at Glide, aprons and hairnets are a sign of privilege. We are fortunate enough to be in a position where we have the time, means, and abilities necessary to serve these individuals. One thing that we talked about in our reflection today was viewing the situation from the point of those that we are working with and realizing how lucky we are to be on the serving end.  We have also had the opportunity to somewhat share in their experience at Glide by eating the same meals as them.  However, the meals that were served to us and the other volunteers were a little more full, which only served to illuminate our privilege even more. We were given extra sausage, eggs, and bread, and lemonade instead of milk and water.  This may not sound like much, but it can mean the difference between hunger and satisfaction. Today was our last day serving at Glide, and we are really grateful for the time we spent there.  We learned a lot and were extremely humbled by everything we experienced and the people we came into contact with.

After serving at Glide and a short break, we had the opportunity to leave the Tenderloin District and see some more “touristy” areas. Out first stop was Fisherman’s Wharf. One highlight of this stop was seeing all of the sea lions, which have turned Pier 39 into their home. We were also able to have a good view of Alcatraz and sample good fish. Next was the Golden Gate Bridge where we shamelessly posed for many stereotypical tourist pictures. For many of us, this was our first time seeing the bridge and it looked somewhat surreal. We also had time to travel to the Castro, a neighborhood that is known for its openness and fun-loving spirit. After visiting a few shops in the area and stopping by the Human Rights Campaign store, which is located in Harvey Milk’s former camera store, we had dinner at Takara Sushi.

Then, we tiredly made our way back to the hostel and had a very interesting reflection and went over the itinerary for Tuesday.   We are looking forward to what the rest of the trip has in store!  J

Sunday, March 18, 2012



 My name is Jasmine Jones and I am a first year at Hamline. Sorry that I am introducing myself so late. I am a pre-med major with a primary in criminal Justice and Forensic science. After graduation I plan on attending medical school to become a forensic pathologist. I wanted to attend this trip because I have always wanted to do community service but I have never really had a chance to. I also think that giving back to your community is an important part of being human. It makes me righteously angry when I see people living in poor conditions because I believe that food is a right not a privilege. That is why it is so important that people give back to their community. I feel that the least that I can do to help lessen the burden of hopelessness is give up my spring break to serve. I am really excited for this trip because I know that at the end of the day that the smile that I see on the faces of the people that I am serving makes everything worth it. I am very optimistic about the future and I hope that next year more people will be able to gain this experience.


San Francisco Day Two!

Hey everyone! It's Rachael and Jasmine here today! This morning we were up before the sun, leaving the hostel at about 6:30 am to head out to Glide. Glide is a church based non-profit organization that has an amazing program set up for serving meals to the community. We arrived there after about a ten minute walk and right away met some of the awesome workers at Glide. We started off by setting up the tables with beverages and helping prepare the food. It was really interesting to meet and talk to all the great people involved in this organization. Many of the volunteers live in the community and frequently donate their time at Glide. They serve over 600 people each meal time, every single day. Once the people arrived, it got pretty busy. Both of us were involved in serving on the floor, which meant we helped out with cleaning and refilling drinks, along with talking to the people from the community. It was such an amazing and humbling experience. It really opened our eyes to the topic of food justice, and how easy to make a difference. It's stunning how easily people's situations can change, and it is important to be respectful and understanding of everyone. Although it's great to be volunteering in San Fran, it's also important that we realize there are so many people so close to home that need our help also. We hope we can continue with our serving learning in the future at home.

After serving breakfast and eating it at Glide, we went to the church service in the upstairs of the church. It is a Methodist domination church, but definitely not the traditional church services we all were used to. Right in the beginning of the service, a man stood up and said "Here at Glide, nobody s tolerated, but EVERYBODY is celebrated." This quote really had an impact on our group because it hit home for us that everyone is this congregated was accepted and loved for who they were. Many of the groups the church provides are based on helping domestic abuse victims and promoting support LGBT community. There was a speaker named Susan who told us her amazing story of how she found Glide and got over her addictions, found a place to stay, and began school, all with the help of the Women's Shelter. There are classes about how women should learn how to stop just surviving and to start living. It is so important that these types of organizations exist because everybody needs a safe place in life. The service itself was so full of life and love. There was a huge amazing choir that sang and lots of clapping and hugs. Overall, none of us could stop smiling and the happiness and joy was radiating off of every single face in the packed congregation.

After church we decided to go on an exploration adventure. Walking in the streets of San Francisco was a cool experience. It was sad and eye-opening, though, because the numbers of homeless people are so large. A statistic we read from a street paper sold to us by a women we met on the streets said that there are 1,100 beds for 14,00 homeless people. This leaves a vast majority of homeless people without a place to sleep at night. This is a lot different than the Twin Cities because in Minnesota the weather is such a main issue that housing is almost more important than food, whereas in California the main focus is feeding the people.  We had a great time exploring, and after supper we had a very touching and observant reflection. This is important to the learning part of service learning, and wow did we all gain so much knowledge and growth. It's hard to believe we've only had one day of service so far, and we're all very much looking forward to what the rest of the week has in store for us!

1st Saturday in San Francisco

Hey, y'all, it's Saraya!  It was super hectic yesterday what with flying and getting situated at the hostel.  We headed out from Sorin around noon and landed around 5:30 (I think).  We're two hours behind MSP time so everyone's a little out of sorts.  It was awesome traveling with the Q group, 24 people trying to figure out their way around a new airport and transit system is a little hilarious.  Jessica got stuck behind on the airport tram but don't fret! We were all back together in under 5 minutes.

Kiefer, Lothy, Saraya, and Brianna on the BART *picture from Caty Bishop*

After all that travel everyone was pretty hungry so after settling at the San Francisco City Center Hostel a group of 14 people from our trip and the Q trip headed out to Cala foods.  The hostel is located in the Tenderloin neighborhood.  Glide Church is where we served this morning, Sunday, and attended a service.  It's located about 6 blocks away from the hostel.  What I've seen so far is beautiful and incredibly diverse.  I can't wait to explore it more!

The grocery group outside the hostel *picture from Caty Bishop*

Anyways, we headed out to Cala Foods which is the grocery store that last year's trip used.  We walked up this marvelously steep hill and found ourselves looking at a shut down Cala Foods.  That was pretty disheartening.  However, a wonderful gentleman pointed us down the street quite a few blocks to Whole Foods.

How interesting that we can no longer shop at a local grocery store and instead visited a national chain.  In any case, we ran around looking for all the ingredients and ended up doing pretty well.  At the end of the trip we totaled our goods to (approximately) 4 meals for 24 people at $4/person.  I hope that's the right number we came up with.  Not too shabby.  It was great having the two trips intermingle and help prepare a large group meal of tacos.  We ended up eating at 10:30 (i.e. 12:30 MSP time).

Some other things to note: traveling down the street with 24 people and their luggage is a ridiculous sight, there are a lot of Irish accents on the streets of San Francisco on St. Patty's day, Leprechaun is terrifying and our hostel's way of celebrating, and as exhausted as everyone may be we're all super pumped for the rest of the week.