New Adventures, New Families

Adventure, community, family, farming, Uncategorized

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Each summer is a new experience and even more than that each summer I get to make a new family.  Whether it’s a group of crazy gals on an Island in Greece, a house full of goofy humans working at SeaWorld Orlando together or a group of urban farming gals as it was this year.

I love my summer families. We talk about everything and tackle life together, day in an day out we share food, fun and frustrations. We argue politics, beliefs, redefine our perspectives and furiously defend our feminism together. And it’s beautiful.

I am elated for one member of last years family to be getting married this fall as I got to be there for the adorable proposal and I got to witness another amazing young woman fight for food security and make it into the New York Times. Another family member is moving to Lebanon to tackle international relations while another is making our world more sustainable. These are some incredible young women and men who inspire me and make the experiences of my summer more incredible and educational than ever before.

This echoes so many experiences in life from internships, to travel to school: it is the people that matter most. From those five second interactions that change your world to those eternal friendships that cover thousands of miles. And this summer just as the summers before (and most certainly the seasons in between) remind me that in the next steps of life, the scary, exciting NEXT that is before me there will always be a new family to be made.

There will be those humans so inspiring and wonderful whose world with collide with my own, and I am so grateful for the humans who are already a part of my world. And as we each adventure off into our own city, country, continent, and worlds, I am so elated to see what each of our journeys hold.

 

Lessons from the Garden:Suckering Tomatoes

community, farming, gardening, green, Green Living, nature, sustainable, Uncategorized, vegetarian

It’s 9am in the high tunnels and we are eager to beat the heat. With hundreds of tomato plants to be suckered, we set a pace to get out of this humid houses before 11am. Yes, we are suckering tomatoes. I started laughing when I heard this term, but this is the official term for the removal of those tiny parts of the plant that will grow into new stems and start sprouting their own flowers, which will result in more and more fruit. So, this seems like a good thing, right? Wrong.

These suckers grow so rapidly that, left to their own devices, we would have hundreds of flowers per plant and tons of beautiful green tomato leaves, but the fruit would be tiny and flavorless. Because just as it is in life, in the greenhouses and the botanical world, it’s all about allocation of resources.

As I sort through the rapid excitement of my next steps in life, with visa applications and tickets, I feel the need to ensure that my life be focused on a few, simple parts. If we don’t, we are left with tons of beautiful greenery but no delicious fruit in our lives. And if we’d like to extend that tomato metaphor, the leaves can be toxic, so while beautiful and ethereal in scent ( to my own nose, at least) the effort put into growing so much lush greenery is wasted as an inedible visual delicacy.

Our hours of suckering, gives me plenty of time to visit the important elements in my life. Time spent with plants and in the earth enable me to sort out the priorities. And as we end another successful Monday morning with plants whose fruit will be bountiful, I feel the same is reflected in my own life.

Happy suckering!

 

 

 

No Use Crying Over Shattered Glass

community, Uncategorized

I know the phrase is spilt milk, or is it is spilled milk, maybe I don’t know the phrase, but the point behind it stands regardless. There’s nothing we can do about the milk being on the floor, so we might as well not waste time crying over it and just clean it up. Today the spilled milk was shattered glass. And that glass was the passenger side window of my car  that was strewn throughout the entire car. A few things were stolen, nothing irreplaceable and the things of the most personal value were precious books. But the violation of privacy and the shards of glass that lay across the floor, seat and dashboard (seriously, how did that spray pattern even work with so called “safety glass”?) were a small dent to my confidence in my fellow humans.

But shattered glass is all it was and when I found it at my lunch break, I knew that the damage had already been done and there strongest emotion I felt was inspiration. I know the area that I am investing a large amount of time is one of high crime rate, economic challenges and severe financial depression, so this shattered window was assurance that the personal investment I am making in this area is, in fact, necessary.

Maybe they were simply bored and had nothing better to do than shatter a few windows and steal other peoples possessions, but from my understanding of the world, most people don’t end up with such a hobby merely out of free time. Too often it is a need for drive, education, and passion that leads to these things, and when the basic needs of comfortable housing, education and healthy food aren’t met, how can we expect anything above this base level of Maslov’s heirarchy to be met?

I blame no single person for this event but rather years of divestment and neglect for a community that trickles over into so much more. I know that where I work in the food security of this area I am investing in the potential of so many incredible lives, lives that don’t need to shatter glass to find something of value. So, there’s no use crying over shattered glass, only inspiration to be found.

 

Checkpoints & Post-Grad Plans

Uncategorized

I am excited and nervously started my last semester of undergrad. Two full weeks in and I feel like I finally have the hang out this whole undergrad-college thing, and it’s almost over. You know when you finally get used to writing the correct year on the date and by the time it’s a habit, it’s a new year and you have to start all over again? Well, that’s the sensation I have, but we’re going to enjoy this “understanding college” thing as long as it lasts.

I am also in the world of post-graduation plans, which mostly consists of trying to figure out how to make your LinkedIn look fantastic, or just good, I’ll even settle for decent at this point. It also comes with an array of interviews (like ones at Princeton that you’re convinced you botched but won’t know for another few months…), and essays to convince future opportunities that you are a killer candidate because you found a creative solution to a problem “that one time”.  And in the midst of all of this, I am being thrown back to high school with my portfolio and essay that describes my career plans from the view of 18 year-old me and it’s delightfully hilarious. And it is about this that I would like to briefly write: checkpoints. ( BTW, I am also listening to middle school/high-school  songs and it’s awesome, Kelly Clarkson anyone? Maybe some Avril?)

Seeing the essay that I wrote in high school reminds me how important goals are and checkpoints to see where you are with those goals and the direction you are going. Reading the paper, I can hear myself rolling my eyes while writing that essay my senior year, but now I see the wisdom my teacher had. She didn’t ask us to write an assignment, she had us write a letter to ourselves. And it’s a perfect checkpoint for right now.   Am I  closer to the person I wanted to be? Or am I someone happier? Have I changed directions altogether? Have I done so many of the incredible things that I told myself I would? And if not, why? If so, how does this continue? Look at the old checkpoints, make new ones and get excited for what is next, even if what is next might be more uncertain that ever before. : )

 

 

 

 

 

The Wonder of Watercolor

Creative Writing, Uncategorized

As I sit at my wall immersed in my mycology mural, I’m overwhelmed by how impossible watercolor is to control and I can’t help but allow my challenges to be a metaphor for life. I was rejected from one of the post-graduation programs I applied for and it makes sense as I applied feeling well under-qualified. But it left me realizing sometimes life isn’t in your control, and that can be beautiful.

Watercolor is barely in the control of the artist. Can you calculate the precise amount of water your brush will gather or the precise way in which the pigments mix with water? Can you predict the way in which gravity will draw the water droplets from your paint strokes? Or can you perfectly pinpoint the capillary action of the water colors through your canvas fibers?

Life isn’t always up to us and sometimes that is more than okay. Sometimes the way the colors disperse and the water flows make the painting more beautiful than you imagined. A program at Princeton University that I applied to invited me for interviews in January, and while it’s only a hunch, I think these colors will spill into my own, magnificently vibrant mural.
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Concept Creation

creative, Dreams, ideas

 

Today I learned something fascinating: lawns were created. You might be laughing and thinking “but of course they were”, but I implore you to think about it. There was a time when lawns did not exist, when gardens and sources of food sat in the place of the patches of green that waste water and precious resources. And from swatches of green in renaissance era paintings came this concept of a lawn. It is a patch of grass that demonstrates your wealth of resources that you can sustain a green patch of entirely worthless grasses. How fascinating! That one day someone decided something will be this way and so it is! From the mere strokes of a brush have come this commonplace idea.

Soul mates are another example. Plato came up with this concept that rules many peoples emotional livelihoods: the concept that you will one day find your “other half”. It has driven the dating websites and the “relationships” industry that I hadn’t even realized was an industry! From the mind of a man this fairytale concept was conceived and now rules the minds and hearts of so many.

So, consider this the next time you have an idea: concepts that are borne of simple thoughts might one day dictate the world in unimaginable ways, for better or worse. There are so many concepts yet to be created, ideas that we don’t even know are ideas yet and these concepts that you create can be incredibly powerful. Simple food for thought 🙂

 

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What is a Sustainable-arian?

conservation, education, food, green, impact, sustainable, vegetarian

A few people have laughed and others have just smiled, while others still have inquired further, and these are the ones I am writing for. The ones who ask “What is a sustainable-arian?”

 

I made this decision to become a sustainable-arian as I learned more about the truly unsustainable practices that we presently practice in obtaining food. Namely, the practice of raising animals for meat is one that poses threat not only to our environment but to our resources of freshwater, our resources of clean air and can impact global climate change. Furthermore, many of the manners in which we catch particular seafood, such as shrimp, which are caught through bottom trawling, is unsustainable. Not only does bottom trawling (which is dragging a weighted net along the ocean floor to catch the desired fish) kill habitats and destroy critical marine ecosystems, but it also has the highest rate of by-catch out of any form of fishing. Up to 90% of the trawl’s catch is often by-catch: sea-turtles, fish, marine birds and even marine mammals. By the time the nets are dragged up, the by-catch is already dead having been dragged along the ocean floor, and the habitats are destroyed.

 

As for the land-dwelling creatures, it can require 518 gallons of water for one pound of chicken! How much did that quarter pounder from a fast food joint cost? 461 gallons of water! And for a whole pound of beef it costs 1,847 gals of water. Where does this gallon count come from? Primarily, they come from the amount of water needed to grow corn and grasses in dry climates that feed the beef over it’s lifetime, as well as the costs of it’s drinking water and the cleaning and processing of meat. The impact of meat goes beyond the water, and we have all heard that “going Organic” is better, but it’s hard to control secondary consumers. What I mean is this: while you can pick organic produce to put in your diet, cows cannot and do not, therefore the feed they are given is not always certified organic (though it CAN be), but the runoff from chemicals that are sprayed on the feed can effect ecosystems and organisms further along than we realize when we bite into that burger. Make sure you do your homework and think before you buy or eat and with listed stores and details on what qualifies as organic a good place to check is http://www.organic.org/home/faq.

 

Lastly, I want to say, I’m saying trying to be a dirty hippie, and I’m sure there are many more ways I can take steps to be more sustainable (and I’m open to suggestions!) but more than anything else it’s empowering to make a statement with my diet. I have some suggestions too, eat organic, wild-caught or if we’re feeling adventurous consider eating an insect or two (thousand?), they use far less water, energy and have higher protein content! Some foods that are far more sustainable that may appeal to you more include: Wild Caught Salmon, Mussels, arthropods or fishhook caught or farmed, for more details on sustainable and safe seafood choices visit http://www.seafoodwatch.org or http://www.fishwatch.gov.

 

Whether it’s vegan, vegetarian, organic eater or sustainable-arian is to know that you have a large impact based on your choices.   It’s empowering to be conscious of the choices I make at the grocer or going out, and when people notice and ask, it’s a chance to educate about conservation and making positive, sustainable impact. Because when you have the power to choose what’s on your plate, why not pick something that makes an impact far longer than the taste lingers on your tongue?

 

Springing Forward

Adventure, Dreams, School, Semester at Sea, Travel

This semester has began again and is moving faster than the last, but simultaneously slower. I wake early, eager for my 8am. It’s ground school and as the next step to becoming a pilot, how could I not be excited! The rest of my day is filled with oceans, and microscopes, organisms and new friends. Even the bitter cold weather can’t chill the warmth of this semester, the joy of things yet to come, the delight of things that are.
And I feel a beautiful nostalgia, as I Skype with one of my best friends, Canada, and we laugh over nights spent wandering around Tokyo, and talk over NGOs in Africa, about boys and the dreams of our future, I realize how content I truly am. It was a year ago that I was on my way to Hawaii, the sunshine growing warmer as the MV Explorer glided into the South Pacific, but I don’t long for that again. Sunshine? Yes. The friends and adventures? Certainly. I will never cease to seek those things, but I am not nostalgic for a repeat of the past, I am not eager to climb back aboard a ship where I was so naive. I’m ready to go as the girl who stepped off the ship in London, who grew from every interaction, who will never stop dreaming of going, but for now must be in one place. I am the girl who will rendezvous with adventurous wild ones at a United Nations Conferences in New York, at a Worldwide Conference in Miami, where we take our next steps to even grander adventures. The girl ready and eager to fly a plane, study cancer and travel to the ends of the earth.
I don’t want what I can’t have because what I have now is so incredible, the momentum I found once again propels me to greater things. And as I fill out a plethora of research abroad applications for the summer, and get sidetracked by the cost of hostels in Pakora ($3/night!!), I’m so content, theres nothing left to do but smile. 🙂

 

The Surreality of a Cinderella Life

Adventure, Travel

Tuesday February 17, 2015

This night last week I sat in the elegant maroon seats of the Westin Hotel in New York City, among CIA Agents, Entrepreneurs, Investors and Inventors, I sat among the elite, the brilliant, the Harvard Graduates and Business sharks of New York. My hair was curled, my make-up perfect and I was dressed to the nines, in true New York Socialite fashion. Wine flowed freely as we discussed which young, new entrepreneur to fund. The food never stopped coming, even as plates of fine cheeses and rich, creamy pastas, fresh salads and sizzling, spiced meats lay full before us. I barely noticed the server, let alone the busser.

Tonight I ran around the restaurant in my bussers uniform: black slacks, a men’s small shirt and a tie, my hair pulled back tight, not pretty, merely practical.  I bustled around serving fine steaks to robust business men and wine to women in heels and perfect styled hair. Clearing plates, cleaning tables, dishes and tending to the needs of the servers and guests, throwing away pounds upon pounds of untouched food. I work hard, I have to just to keep up with the guys, it’s typically a man’s job. And just as I barely noticed anyone below my realm of fancy people, all night I went unnoticed save for the one time I accidentally bumped a customer.

The surreality of my life feels like Cinderella, dressed and sparkling one night, covered in ashes and food scraps the next. But unlike Cinderella, I won’t get to the palace through  a prince, I’ll get there on my own volition. I will know what it’s like to be on both sides of the table. I will work my hardest to be the very best, but never climb without remember those who helped me there. I will find happiness not in the money I can spend on that dinner out, but with whom I have to share it, and end the end of the day, I’ll cherish the beautiful ball gowns and comfortable life, because I know the nights spends cleaning dishes and studying late after work that it took to get there. And sometimes I wonder if those already there see the value of the castle they’re already in.