Looking Back: QLSP Summer Service Fellows

Hello from Pennsylvania!

We finished our time in Greensboro (for now) early last week and we’re already missing it! If you haven’t caught one of our other posts, this summer we had the amazing opportunity to be Friends Center’s first Summer Service Fellows, and work alongside Bonner scholars and other community members on issues of food justice. The work we had a chance to do, and the amazing sites we visited gave us an incredible look at the ongoing work to establish food sovereignty and justice within Greensboro. The issue of food justice is one that as Quakers we see directly pertaining to the values we hold and the work we seek to do in the world.

Food scarcity is an issue that encompasses varying layers of oppression, inequality, and violence against those who are already marginalized within our society and one that needs to be challenged and fought everywhere across this country. 

The goals of establishing food sovereignty and food justice, are also deeply linked to the Quaker values of service and community, about nurturing one another as well as the earth and all life on it. To strive and work with one another for food sovereignty is not only an act of love and care for one another but an act of resistance against systems that perpetuate violence and inequality across America. While many Quakers are environmental advocates, our work needs to be focused within our communities as well as on a global scale. The adage “Living simply so that others may simply live” is not possible if others very sovereignty is restricted by systems of oppression that would keep them starved. 

We as Quakers within Guilford College, and as a college that claims the values of the Quaker faith, must be working intentionally and acting compassionately to support the food justice movement and establish food sovereignty within our communities. This summer has provided us with an amazing chance to see the dedication, the love, and the compassion that those who are actively fighting for food justice demonstrate in their communities every day and we are overwhelmingly grateful. Thank you to the communities who welcomed us, our team, Bonner and of course Friends Center.

We will be back at Guilford in a few short weeks to help with the incoming first year QLSP students pre-orientation and are excited to teach some of what we have learned this summer on the Saturday work day at the Farm that we helped plan!

Jake and Amelia

Photo Credit: Sophia Perlmutter ’18

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QLSP Summer 2017 Update – Deborah Shaw

In less than two weeks the new QLSPers will be coming to campus for the pre-term orientation!  Eight of these are first-year students and two are transfers.  To learn a little bit more about this group – see at the bottom of this post. 

We are excited to anticipate welcoming them – with the help of four returning students, one of whom is Leanna Kantt, co-clerk for QLSP for the coming year.  As happened last year, QLSP students will be spending some of the three-day orientation with new Bonner Scholars – enjoying the “Alternate Tour of Greensboro” and an outing to Snow Camp, NC, to see the outdoor drama “Pathway to Freedom” featuring James Shields ‘00, Guilford’s Bonner Center Director.

Another activity will be a work morning at Guilford’s Farm – organized by QLSPer’s Amelia Hall and Jake Fetzer, whose summer was spent as Friends Center’s first “Summer Service Fellows” working on a new project Guilford is taking on, the Mobile Oasis – a program that was started by Guilford County Health Department to bring produce to food insecure areas in Greensboro.  For more on this exciting work – check out the following link.

Looking forward to welcoming our newcomers – creating a space for them to get to know each other – and imagining how each of their unique presences will add to the wonderful QLSP community!

Speaking of that wonderful QLSP community – well over 300 people have been a part of the QLSP program!  This year we are celebrating 25 years of existence for this amazing program – throughout the year of course – but with a special event in connection with Guilford’s Homecoming.  A special celebratory dinner, meeting for worship and program will take place Thursday, November 2, 2017!        

Plan to come – stay tuned for more details!

-Deborah Shaw
Director of Quaker Leadership Scholars Program & Assistant Director of Friends Center


 

Welcome to our New 2017 QLSP Students! 

Allison Andrade – Hillsborough NC – Community Church of Chapel Hill (Unitarian Universalist).  Allison is deeply involved with her church community and has attended camps and retreats and through this has volunteered at organizations that help sustain ethical and fair society.   She looks forward to learning about Quakerism and being able to discover her spiritual beliefs further in an open environment, in the company of others.

Asa Bell – Philadelphia PA – attended Friends’ Central School.  Asa is a soccer player and much of his volunteer service has been working at summer soccer camps.  While not a Friend, Asa has learned much about Quakerism from his time at Friends’ Central and incorporates the testimonies into his life.  Acknowledging how much he has learned about himself already from being at Friends’ Central, Asa is anticipating deeper, broader learning through QLSP.

Berit Beck – Baltimore MD – Concord Friends Meeting, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.  Berit has been a regular participant in PYM’s Young Friends Group, serving as recording clerk for the Group for one year. Through this community, Berit has shared service in a variety of ways within the meeting and in the wider community.  Not able to attend her distant home meeting very often, Berit is looking forward to reclaiming the central place that worship plays in her life.

Trey Kawugule – Richmond VA – raised in the Episcopalian Church.  For the past two years Trey has been drawn to Quakerism as he explored his beliefs and began reading about Quakerism in books and journals.  Trey grew up in a spiritually/religiously diverse home and has sought to find his own path through studying theology and practice of many faiths. Trey hopes to live out his favorite leadership quote in the coming year, “no one cares what you know until they know that you care.”

Jordan Keller – Richmond VA – Richmond Friends Meeting, Baltimore Yearly Meeting.  Jordan’s deepening in Quaker worship came about during her time at Shiloh Quaker Camp – her appreciation of Quaker process is a result of her time with BYM Young Friends.  Her Quaker communities have provided her with numerous opportunities for strategic, spirit led activism.  Jordan looks forward to seeing how her understanding of what it means to be a Quaker grows and changes.

Caley Martin Mooney – New Haven CT – New Haven Friends Meeting, New England Yearly Meeting.  Caley has attended meeting for most of his life and feels a strong connection with his yearly meeting’s Young Friends.  Caley has gone twice to D.C. to lobby with Friends Committee on National Legislation. While in Young Friends he served on Ministry and Counsel for two years.  He looks forward to being able to share with others about spiritual beliefs.

Elijah Martin Mooney – New Haven CT – New Haven Friends Meeting, New England Yearly Meeting.  Elijah is active in his home meeting, helping out with child care and potlucks, among other things.  He has served his yearly meeting’s Young Friends group as a member of the Nominating Committee.  While serving on Ministry and Counsel Elijah grew into the roles of being a presence in the community, helping with clearness committees and holding worshipful space during business meetings.

Annika Norris – Silver Spring MD – not raised in a faith community.  Annika is a second-year student at Guilford and has become very interested in Quakerism through interactions with Quaker students, some in QLSP.  Annika has done a great deal of service in the Greensboro community and at the Guilford farm.  She says that the she is “excited to embark on a journey with QLSP that requires self-reflection and meditation and experiencing time with the self.”

Sydney Singleton – Lexington NC – raised in the Baptist Church.  Sydney is a transfer student who has often been able to worship with the QLSP community in the past year.  She carries a concern for the environment, is involved with the Resource Conservation Workshop at which she was a counselor this past summer.  Sydney looks forward to deepening her existing relationship with QLSP, learning more about Quakerism and seeking ways to balance all the demands of life within a spiritual context.

Brownie Southworth – Louisville KY – Chester River Friends Meeting, Baltimore Yearly Meeting. Brownie grew up in a Quaker Meeting – but most recently has been attending Central Presbyterian Church – a welcoming/inclusive congregation with a strong commitment to social justice work and community outreach.  Brownie is looking forward to engaging with QLSP in its work on racism and institutional systems of oppression, appreciating the opportunity to more deeply understand what role he has to play in the world.

Summer Friends Center Updates from Kate Hood

The Friends Association for Higher Education (FAHE) held its annual conference at Guilford in June. The theme was Global Education, Global Quakerism and commemorated the 1967 World Gathering of Friends at the College. Participants were treated to three stimulating plenary sessions on global topics (including memories of the World Gathering) and over 20 workshops designed to assist and inspire Quaker educators in improving their work. Field trips enlightened the group on Guilford’s Farm, Underground Railroad activities in the New Garden area, the International Civil Rights Center and Museum and Quaker Archives. Participants enjoyed the intellectual engagement, spiritual refreshment, and good fellowship during the long weekend.

The Tannenbaum-Sternberger grant Guilford received to educate public school students especially about Underground Railroad activity here in our woods ended its first year, having laid considerable groundwork. A sustainable trail built by volunteers was nearly completed, leading to a viewing platform constructed this year. The platform protects our 300+-year-old Underground Railroad (tulip poplar) Tree from foot damage to its roots and can hold a group of about 25, as they reflect on what this “silent witness” to interracial freedom-seeking actions might have to teach and inspire us to do. Trail signage is being developed, and a curriculum for 4th, 8th and 11th graders written. There is a website as well, which provides additional information: http://library.guilford.edu/undergroundrr

Guilford College’s application to be designated as a site on the Underground Railroad, through the National Park Service’s Network to Freedom program (https://www.nps.gov/subjects/ugrr/index.htm) was accepted in the spring. Visitors to our woods – or to our Friends Historical Collection in the College library, a designated research facility – can now request that we provide them a “passport stamp” on a Network to Freedom brochure.

-Kate Hood ’76 is our Friends Center & Friends Historical Collection Outreach Coordinator

Community Explored with Text

We have been continuing engaging with text and community and it has been increasingly exciting to see these two expressed alongside of one another. A quote that really stood out when thinking about working with specifically the Glen Haven community was “We all exist thanks to others, with others, and through others. Together we make up the biosphere as a great integrated and integrating whole” (Boff, 87). One of the fundamental things that Boff talks about in the beginning of the book is how ecology takes into account the non-hierarchal importance of every single piece of a system and living community and the ways in which our communities and theology can learn from that. The importance of all the members of a community and the ways they are a “integrated and integrating whole” is something that’s really clear and has become even more apparent as we work further with Glen Haven. The community is made up of so many different people from so many different places who speak different languages, but all of them play fundamental roles in supporting one another within the community. Glen Haven is one of the communities we have definitely gotten to work the most in during our weekly drop offs of fresh produce, working with the Women’s Learning Group and additional weekend work days. Through these experiences, we’ve gotten to see first hand the way the connection between environment and people strengthens community as well as the way communities integrate to help one another.

“A integrated and integrating whole” has been a definition our individual group of the Mobile Oasis team has taken on as well. We think as we have found what individual gifts and leadings we bring into our space and in turn the greater community we have been able to become a more cohesive collaboration.  

At the heart of Ecology & Liberation is the idea that the interconnected relationship of all things is a uniting and driving force, both in an environmental and a greater understanding. This summer we’ve gotten to work with people from all different backgrounds and faiths and identities, who all are driven and united together by love for the environment and community, and the ways we’ve gotten to see communities grow together and with us has been really heart-warming.

We are starting to get very sad about leaving these communities and our own group but can’t wait to get back at the end of the Summer with renewed energy!

-Jake and Amelia

Photo Credit: Sophia Perlmutter ’18 

Becoming friends

This past Thursday we visited the Glen Haven English class for the final time this summer. Over the past few weeks, we’ve had the incredible opportunity to work with the women from the Glen Haven community on studying English as well as information for the citizenship test. Each week we’ve gotten a chance to work and get closer with the women, learning more about them and their lives and getting a chance to share about ourselves with them as well. When we first came to the classes we originally were a little unsure about what to do, Andrew helped guide us a lot and helped to show us what techniques worked best for teaching new words and concepts. While our first classes were mainly focused on the citizenship and civics test books, we learned a lot about the women that began to help us improve our relationship with them as well as our drop off that takes place at Glen Haven on Fridays. In getting to talk with the women in those first classes we learned about what vegetables they and other community members had more interest in us bringing on Fridays, as well as some valuable Nepalese words for labeling vegetables, tools and greeting one another.

As we’ve gotten more chances throughout the summer to work with the women and talk with them during the classes we’ve learned more about each other and worked together in ways that allow us to improve the access to food in Glen Haven in new ways. Because there are so many different community members living in Glen Haven communication between them is key especially when access to food is such a necessary thing for everyone to be informed about. By working with the women in the English class we’ve been able to identify not only who among them we need to be providing more food for, but also who else in the community is in need of more food each week. While talking to the women in the community we also were able to create a list of the most common produce we bring on Fridays written in English, Nepalese, and Karen, in the hopes to help more members of the community identify their vegetables. The most important thing however from the classes has definitely been getting to have a better relationship with the women in the community and learn about their lives and families as well as having the opportunity to share about ourselves with them. We’ve gotten to do a lot of really exciting projects with the Glen Haven community this summer but of them, all this class has been one of the most rewarding without a doubt.

Feeling grateful for these budding relationships that have turned us from pauma (gusests) to sati (friends) but don’t trust us on that spelling!

Signing off one of our last times,

Jake and Amelia

“Ecology and Liberation” explored with Summer Service Fellows

This summer as we’ve been working with the Mobile Oasis project, we’ve also been researching and reading about the intersections between food systems and theology. Recently we’ve been reading Leonardo Boff’s Ecology & Liberation, which offers up ways in which theology must fundamentally shift to address the environment and our relationship to it.


The beginning of Boff’s book focuses on the ways human beings but specifically industrialized western nations have caused significant negative environmental damage, and how that has helped shape and affect our systems of power as well. Boff outlines how our ideologies of power and growth have negatively affected our most marginalized community members as well as the environment itself. He states that our model of growth takes from the workers and environment and that “The benefits are available only to a restricted group of nations or to the upper classes of a nation, and they do not include the well-being of nature.” (Boff pg. 20) In understanding this, and looking at the different communities we work with, we can see the ways in which communities working together for food sovereignty is truly a revolutionary and critical act. Growing food and establishing markets to promote food sovereignty and access allows communities to not only better the environment but reclaim power in a system that steals wealth, food, and clean environmental conditions from them. This is especially true in situations like those in Greensboro where communities who seek to grow their own food face further challenges of polluted and barren land as a result of racist and classist laws and pollution. 


How do we get heard, how do we stop these communities from being abused or disregarded in ways that permanently damage the land and the people that live on it? For example on a national level, how have we allowed such a prolonged water crisis to affect Flint, Michigan?

How are we mindful of the divides in our communities and food system? And in what ways are we passive to them?

In understanding establishing food sovereignty as a radical reclamation of power, what else can be done within Greensboro and within Guilford to secure a healthy food system for the most marginalized among us?

 

Don’t throw away that potato: Composting Explained with Summer Service Fellows

This summer with the Mobile Oasis and Mobile Market projects we’ve helped work on preparing garden beds for different members of our Greensboro community. One of the most important things that go into making those beds, is ensuring that we have rich nutrient filled soil for the plants to thrive in. In order to help facilitate good soil, we make sure to incorporate compost into our beds to help give the plants the best possible growing environment we can give them. Composting doesn’t have to be done on as large of a scale as we do it at Guilford however, you can make a compost system at your home too! Having a compost system is an excellent way to reduce the amount of waste you create, and in turn, also serves as an amazing nutrient source for your household plants and garden.

Too often composting can seem like an overly complicated or scientific task, but it has huge benefits for you and your garden and is simple to do! To start a compost system at your house all you really need is a small container to collect food waste inside and a place for your actual compost bin or pile. Your compost system doesn’t have to be large and doesn’t even have to be contained in a bin. My family for years kept our compost in a large pile without any sort of container and we got good soil from it every year. If you are looking to make a bin, chicken wire makes an excellent cheap bin at any size. To prepare the bin all you have to do is wrap it into a cylinder to the size of your liking and bend the wires to connect the bin. Additionally, if you live in an area with critters commonly outside your house you may want to cover the bin when food waste is added. There are all sorts of types of compost bins you can make though so take some time looking around to see what type will work best for you.

Composting in your backyard or in your home works just like decomposition does in nature. A series of bacteria and microorganisms all play different roles producing and feeding on energy to break down the plant matter into the nutrient rich soil. While all of these little creatures have numerous complex jobs to do, you only have one main one in the process, to keep the pile well fed!

The most important component for a healthy compost bin is a balance of carbon and nitrogen in your materials of choice. For carbon, your going to want things like dry leaves, plant stalks, straw, pine needles, mainly tough brown material. Your kitchen and yard do a great job of supplying the nitrogen you need in the form of leftover food waste as well as plant and grass clippings. The balance between the two you want to maintain is about 30 parts carbon to 1 part nitrogen, so make sure to stock up on things like dry leaves when you can so you can keep your compost going always! As long as that balance is maintained your compost pile or bin will continue creating nutrient rich soil without the bad smell.

Your level of involvement with your compost bin can be as little or as great as you want it to be. Regardless of if you obsess over maintaining perfect temperatures and worm populations or if you just fill the bin with scraps from dinner you’ll eventually end up with great soil no matter what!