Thursday, March 26, 2015

Uphill Hill In Pigeon Town!

Well all I can start by saying is... Let me catch a breathe and say.... Thank you! To all of you supporting me through thoughts, prayers, and finances. To the wonderful staff of this great program, who work tirelessly to making these great opportunities available for all us volunteers. To my wonderful community here in New Orleans, my YAV brothers and sisters, the Presbytery of South Louisiana. This experience is challenging me to great lengths, that I so often move too fast through out the day to day, to see and sit in humble thanksgiving towards. I am learning to take, "One Day at a Time", in such a refreshing and beautiful way. And even though to this day my single most challenging task is remaining presently optimistic in my life, I truly see that there has been some great growth with in the last few months.
Needless to say... of course it's still a struggle getting to this sounding board when something new happens. Though I'm happy that there has been some major movement in my current life, I don't want to lose track of this space to share my experiences, so please forgive and I forgive myself. A major goal for this new year is to keep more up to date with my YAV year here in New Orleans through this blog. Writing my experiences out in general has been thrown to the back burner, which is a shame when I get the chance to sit; write, and realize how refreshing and healthy this is for my life. It often seems like water for me..... I'm really bad at remembering to be a consistent rehydrator, till days go by and I  find myself drinking a 5 oz glass responding in great relief, "OH, Water! Where have you been all my life?!"  I always remember that golden lesson in high school health class,  "Never wait to get thirsty to drink water!" .... What a lesson for our lives right..... We wait to be in a state of desperation or need to address things.
Any ways, these blog posts seem to be my peace of mind at times, just need to learn to get them out even before I'm thirsting for a place to throw my thoughts.

    From there I'll say, I won't spend too much time on my winter vacation, except I really did feel like it was a good time for a break, and a wonderful privilege to not only leave my home, but to come back for a  visit. My family is growing back home, and in two months I will officially have a new wonderful sister Lisa. Christmas was a beautiful, stressful, frustrating, joyous and unique experience amerced around my whole family near and extended. I was ready to get back by the end of it, and had no clue what stood in the near future...,

   Well I got home, and we as a YAV house began prepping for a great move to the new house, some of us dreading it more than others. I ended up driving the 20 ft. U haul full of our earthly possessions,  very fun experience, and we capped off the completed move with my birthday dinner, in which me and Hannah joined forces to prepare a Saudi dish called Al Kabsa ( Great dish of chicken and rice cooked together with cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, chili powder and cumin other spices, look it up if interested!) After that first week we all began getting acclimated to the new house, routes to our jobs, and our new local go to's... Rouse's/ Walmart/ City Park ( The second largest city park in the US, which is now much closer)
    My work situation, went from a 5 minute independent bike commute to a 10-20 minute carpool commute on the I-10 with one of my house mates Hannah. Though from most perspectives this seemed as a whole to be an unfortunate change of pace, I actually ended up really enjoying the new level of intentional commitment to getting to  work everyday. It has become a challenge that forces me to really plan out the day and week, and get a little more routine created... which I personally get a  great amount of peace of mind from.
    In the past 3 months, I have had two different groups of volunteers come from out of state, the first which was for New Years Eve, and came from my house mate John's church in Kentucky. They helped paint some beds and a had a good weeding session. Shout out to the Lexington Kentucky Volunteers, many blessings and thank you for your hard work!
    The second group came in the end of January, and boy did they do a great, fantastic damage. There were nine of them total, coming from two different states; Maryland, North Carolina, a guy from Chicago and a gentlemen from Michigan. The groups were so amazing and  supportive for 4 solid days, by the end of it I found myself sitting at the edge of  the tool shed in the peace with tears of joy and complete shock.... a pure, "thou cup run'neth over" state of mind.
   The original plan for this group of volunteers was to do some of the more general task of, weeding, watering, painting, and clearing out a new space along the fence line for planting vines along. Well, to my surprise... little did I anticipate for one of these individuals to be a landscape horticulturist from Chicago! His name is Gunner, and he's a dynamic planner that immediate started throwing out two reality; that he saw great potential in this garden, but such potential being really disguised by a very ugly building and poor designed beds. And second, that this in theory is what he does for a living, creating efficient green spaces that focus on efficient growing space, aesthetics that are inviting, and a healthy amount of growing area and space for recreation.
    So as we started forming new ideas around redesign, I gave Gunner the liberty to lead the crew in a remodel pro-do type using a small section of the beds. Basically, we opened the space entirely by increasing the dimensions but connecting beds together. Light bulbs clicked in my head over the next several days. We made these big boxes underneath these beams sticking out of the school building, of which after a rope was thrown over the beam could become a climbing anchor for any trellising crop like Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Pole beans, or a local favorite called Mirliton, ( more commonly known as Chayote in Spanish-speaking communities), which is a very fruitful crop. The vinng plants also act as a aesthetically pleasing distraction from the ugly school building behind it!... And after the boxes were made new open room had been created where we're now planning on putting picnic tables, for better recreational space.  See what I'm talking about, thinking pretty smart!
  By the time this group hit the road at the end of the week, we had formed several new models of raised beds, cleaned the entire place up including both tool sheds, a tool shed with several new tools, and a tool new work tables we made out of an old bulk bed from the YAV house. I was in bliss, and the new inspiration has continued to transform my mind about the efficiency of this space. My thanksgiving goes out to the group of North Carolina, the group from Maryland, Dave from Chicago, and Gunner from Michigan, your help and support of this wonderful projects has blessed me and this neighborhood tremendously.

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