Tulane VISTA Blog

Fighting Poverty with Passion

Field Report: CFAN/CDC

That was fast. Summer has already come and gone in Minnesota. Obvious signs of the passing of the seasons are abundant: the youth at the Community Design Center of Minnesota (CDC) finished their summer internships (some will come back for fall/winter programming), first-year students have arrived at the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS) for orientation and the start of classes, and gusts of chill air from the North have taken the temperature down an average of twenty degrees Fahrenheit. Before summer officially departs, a mention of a partnership that filled the extra-long days of sweltering heat.

August brought many guests to the CDC. A local photographer who conducted a workshop with CDC youth interns in July made frequent visits to our office. Sometimes he stopped by with a purpose, other times he simply wanted to see what we were up to. His joking around with the youth and staff were a welcome break in the day. Extremely generous, he came in to help us frame pictures for a photo exhibit that resulted from the workshop he gave, donated copies of his photo book as raffle prizes for the youth and our upcoming fundraiser, has been a tireless advocate for the CDC among his friends, and is making plans to give another workshop next year. This is just the kind of partnership a small non-profit hopes for.

Over at CFANS I had the great pleasure of meeting a newly formed community group, Project Sweetie Pie,during their visits to the Cornercopia Student Organic Farm. Youth and their mentors from tornado-ravaged North Minneapolis trekked over to the St. Paul campus of the University of Minnesota to prune tomato plants, dig up garlic, and learn about organic growing methods. Project Sweetie Pie seems to be a parallel organization to the CDC; the youth operate seven gardens in their communities, develop job skills, and learn about personal and environmental health. The Project Sweetie Pie-CFANS partnership is sure to sprout excellent opportunities for participants of both programs. Already Project Sweetie Pie youth have benefited from exposure to an organic farm operation. CFANS students serving as summer interns at Cornercopia had the chance to mentor youth in organic growing practices. It will be exciting to see how this partnership grows as the seasons continue to change and pass.

-Hannah Rusch, TNVNET VISTA, Community Design Center of Minnesota/CFANS

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Notes from the field from the AmeriCorps VISTA team at Tulane University.

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