Zoom meetings. Hand washing. SO much hand washing. Masks, masks, masks. Lines at Rentschlur Field for food boxes.
These are only some of the changes the pandemic has made to our daily lives.
Gardens still need planning. Mutual aid is popping up in all of our communities. We are suddenly so much more aware of each other’s needs and abilities.
Things are different, but the work remains, and we keep kicking away at the foundations of walls that keep us apart.
Although we haven’t been able to get together as a network for the past year, we have had some important wins we need to celebrate.
The USDA listened! Our trip to Washington DC before the pandemic, where Abimael and Marilla talked about their experiences as young folks working the land in Willimantic, about the need for leadership development for urban teens, and about the importance of connecting with the soil, manifested in changes to funding opportunities in the most recent round of grants. New Haven organizations took advantage of those changes and got funding to improve youth programming AND to increase their ownership of land in their community for food growing development.
Programs are getting better and better at sharing their resources. The new curriculum sharing drive on Google is a home for tested and proven activities for building resilience and self sufficiency for teens and communities. Nothing about us without us! See our shared work here.
Some program, particularly GVI in Bridgeport, have been finding ways to get college credits for program participants. The summer interns earned credits, and next summer’s team may work their way through a certificate program, earning documentation that can help them to get jobs and track their college experience. More Alliance programs are trying to establish similar programs with colleges near their communities.
A youtube channel has been claimed for the Alliance to use. The hope is that this will allow programs to share their activities with one another, and to expand our wisdom by sharing what we learn with one another despite public health needs. For more information on the channel, please reach out to Kathy.
Some partners have been pushing hard to get their activities open for all community members. This increased accessibility has shown that there is expanded needs for food access during the pandemic. Common Ground High School has been tapping into USDA funding to distribute food boxes, and is finding that the winter produce lull is more impactful for our neighbors than usual. To keep fresh fruits and veggies going to our communities, new avenues of access are being explored, but nothing is set yet. This will be an exciting area for future development, for sure.
We are all doing the best we can these days. Please remember to wash your hands, wear your masks, and keep six feet between you and people you don’t live with. Things are moving in the right direction, slowly, and from very far in the wrong direction. Progress is still progress, and we are all making a difference. Please be good to you, and celebrate whenever you can!