Having just come from working several seasons as an outdoor educator, I have had ample time to appreciate our wild places. In my previous position as an instructor leading canoe and dogsled trips in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, I was able to explore the interactions between humans and nature and marvel in the space that has been preserved and protected for us. But when the students left and the boats were stored for the season, all I had left was the hope that my work had an impact and those lessons in leadership, teamwork and sharing would take root.
As a new team member in the Healthy Food and Strong Community program at Hope Community, I’ve seen the roots that grow in this program go deeper than the changing of the seasons and deeper than what we harvest together. This program is rooted in people and the relationship with the places we inhabit.
When we grow our own food we begin to consider all the elements that go into feeding a community. We consider the health of our urban soils, how we access our water sources, what to grow and how to protect it from disease. We determine how we harvest and divide the produce and what to plan for next season. Being grounded and rooted in place drives us to work together, to develop skills and knowledge while asking us to put our talents and energy together.
My position at Hope Community is through the Minnesota GreenCorps, a program that aims to preserve and protect Minnesota’s environment while training a new generation of environmental professionals through creative and innovative environmental projects. Coordinated by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, my focus is community engagement and education around environmentally conscious practices. The outcomes we hope to achieve will be growing our community’s knowledge and practice of new sustainable behaviors.
With this partnership, I will create and strengthen entry point activities for community members to engage in sustainable practices and conversations, healthy living and creating connections. These opportunities will include growing and sharing local healthy foods, coordinating a Bike Library program and reducing waste through a community compost plan.
Wild places, even in the heart of the city, are here for us to uncover. When we see what grows, we stick around and deepen the roots that tie us to this place.