03 September 2007

Organic, Artistic, Gigantic Oh My!

Just a quick note before I crash into my bed literally seconds after completing this entry. I’m still running on empty for a plethora (my current favorite word) of reasons, but just had to share the incredibly stories from today.

I started at 6:30am with pancakes from “Wings,” the local tourist restaurant (obviously). That was followed by three days on the subway (literally) and thirty minutes in a taxi, where both Juanie and I CRASHED. The driver could have taken us to Guatemala and back for all we knew. I mean, we were OUT COLD.

First stop was with Juan Carlos and Liliana at their rooftop organic garden, where they’ve turned an impoverished community into powerful organic growers. We planted lettuce, relocated tomatoes and even potted a few seeds. My Mom would have been proud!

What’s even more astounding is that they’re not stopping with just one rooftop. They run classes on organic farming, have built multiple partnerships with other venturer’s to build more rooftop gardens and have committed their own organic crop to local, low-income food stores over posh downtown supermarkets because they feel that “everyone should have access to healthy produce.” Did I mention that they commute two hours each way three and four times a week to maintain the operation? Blows my mind.

I also learned that apparently, I AM GIGANTIC. Look at this photo. I’m hunching over and it still looks like I’m going to eat the both of them for linner!

From there is was back on public transportation – minibus to subway to minibus to walking – en route to an Art Collective that is home to hundreds of low-income youth who have made the center their creative outlet. From sculpting to painting to drawing to pressing their own shirts, they’ve built an environment where young people can feel “completely free” to express themselves. They recently hosted their first art exhibition, educating a reluctant community about the type of positive impact a place like theirs can have on a struggling neighborhood.

It was on to our linner and evening event, where a dozen teams showed up to dine and share their countless projects that – true to form – were incredible. I even got to meet RAPEM face to face. That’s the Venture that works to bring rival gangs together through rap. I had spoken about them way back when, and it felt good to let them know that had motivated me all that time ago. What’s even more inspiring is how hard they’re working to support each other. From weekly get-togethers to large-scale collaborations, this community of extraordinary leaders is showing just what this movement is all about – changing the world together.

That excitement can definitely help to curb even the most overwhelming of days. It’s off to Oaxaca tomorrow, which means I may be MIA until Saturday the 8th when I sadly say goodbye to the traveling lifestyle and return to DC, future unknown. More soon. Sleep now!

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