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August 31, 2021

Groundwork RI – PVD Week 5/6: Develop, Deploy & Celebrate! | Juliana Soltys, Jason Hebert | MID ’22

by Juliana Soltys

The goal of this week was to finish painting and placing the trash cans in their permanent locations. First, the youth leisurely painted the lids outside the greenhouse and sealed the containers with waterproof sealant. Next, we added bins and trash bags inside to hold the accumulated waste. Finally, the youth decided that the larger trash can with the heart top should be placed across the street from the greenhouse in the green area and the smaller one outside the greenhouse near the farm stand. Each was chained to discourage people from tampering with them, increasing their longevity. 

To prepare for the end-of-summer event, we talked with the coordinators and the youths about food, games, and setup steps.  The youth suggested we get Mi Casa, a Dominican restaurant a block away from the garden.  If the wind was blowing in the right direction, we could smell the delicious food cooking away while we were working.  With that, we walked over to discuss catering, and they were very patient with us since we didn’t speak Spanish.  After talking to one of the employees, we were able to order delicious chicken stew and rice.  We spent the rest of our time that day posting flyers in Spanish and English on electric poles around the area to gain more traffic with locals. 

Reflection

The youth enjoyed the creative freedom of painting whatever they wanted on the trash cans.  Jason and I primed them with exterior primer, and each youth was able to paint one side of the bins.  The boys worked together on the rectangular container and the girls painted the square one with the heart cover.  One of them really enjoyed painting and started splattering Pollock style: paint got everywhere.  Some of the others weren’t too happy with the mess, but we mitigated the situation.  Chairs and tables ended up splattered with paint, but no long-term harm was done.  By the end, cleanup was pretty quick and easy!

Additional Activity

Before the event, we joined the group and YSANEL at Billy Taylor Park to work on a chalk mural.  They wanted to thank the park for being a beautiful, public space for meeting and learning while working with the public artist. So, we drew a peace sign and a heart, writing, “Thank you, Billy Taylor Park,” below on the large concrete slabs.   Although the planned mural is still waiting for funding, it was fun to draw and color in these park designs with everyone.  The heat created a challenge for engagement, but popsicles gave the youths a little pick me up during the afternoon. 

End-of-Summer Event:

Setup

We met everyone at the greenhouse at 9 am to drop off supplies, and the youth started the morning with a trash clean-up around Prairie Ave and the neighboring streets. Then, Jason and I ran errands to pick up last-minute supplies, including grabbing the food from Harvest Kitchen in Pawtucket. Next, we started setting up the green space across the street from the greenhouse and opened the farm stand with produce for locals to take.  Shaded tents were constructed, and tables and chairs were scattered around. GWRI has two fancy canvassing tables that we set up with a waste sorting game and the other with flyers and information about composting.  We put together lawn games like can jam and cornhole on the grassy spots and the food was set up on the folding tables.  

Outcome

Attendance started slow but picked up in the middle despite the heat! The youth’s friends and family came, and locals walked by from the waterpark and Prairie Ave curious about the event.  We happily invited them in and offered food from Mi Casa and Harvest Kitchen. Mi Casa catered chicken stew and rice, a big hit with people coming back for seconds (and even thirds)! Harvest Kitchen provided a mixed salad, potato salad, and cookies, also a popular hit.  Reusable cups, dishes, and utensils were used to minimize waste and consumption. Two large jugs of cold water and juice kept everyone hydrated in the super hot and humid temperatures.  The tents and water were also a necessity to stay cool from the high 90s temperatures! The greenhouse was open for tours despite the heat. Youths and coordinators were open to show anyone around the gardens and learn more about GWRI.  The booths across the street provided more information about GWRI and had games about recycling and composting with prizes!  Other entertainment included can jam, spikeball, and cornhole around the green space.  Cornhole was a big hit early on, and as it got hotter, the youths played Uno in the shade.

Reflection

The event was a success!  The heat was almost unbearable, but the delicious food and fun games in the shade made the event enjoyable.  The trash cans are now permanent fixtures on Prairie Ave, and it was so rewarding to watch the youth come out of their shells and create something for their community throughout the summer.  Jason and I took photos to commemorate the event so it was a little difficult balancing socializing and capturing candid moments.  Overall, the day was exhausting, but a rewarding experience.  Thank you to everyone that supported the event! 

Green Team with PVD Coordinators Sarah & China, PCF Coordinator Leandro and Juliana & Jason

Thank you Messages:

I’d first like to thank Maharam for funding the Maharam Fellowship and supporting local environmental work.  Without the support from the fellowship, Jason and I couldn’t have worked with Groundwork RI and supported the youths’ projects. 

Thank you to Amelia Rose for believing in our proposal and letting two RISD students work with GWRI! We hope to continue working together in the fall. 

Thank you Kevin Jankowski for asking tough, but important questions and checking in throughout our fellowship. Hope to one day see the garden and the bees!

To Chandelle Wilson & Everett, thank you for believing in our goals to support the youth to work with Galego Court Community Garden.  I’m glad we stopped by that one afternoon and were able to tackle realistic projects this summer.  Jason and I will definitely be stopping by in the fall!

Thank you to the PVD coordinators, Sarah Hashem and China Yang, and PCF Coordinators, Arleen Hernandez and Leandro Castro, for opening your doors and making space for us to work with you and the youth.  Have a great rest of the summer and hope to stay in touch and continue working together in the fall!

To the PVD and PCF youth, thank you for supporting two random people entering your summer and being active leaders and participating in our workshops.  The final projects are just the beginning of what I know you can accomplish in the future.  If you ever need Jason or me, don’t hesitate to reach out. 

And lastly…to Jason Hebert, Thank you so much for being my teammate and friend this summer. I’m grateful for our bonding during wintersession, blooming into this opportunity. This summer, you’ve challenged me and were supportive through the curriculum development to our many hardware store visits.  Working with you was almost effortless, and we were very efficient in our meetings… not so much in our building, but it was a great learning experience!  Thank you for supporting me at my lows and my many cravings for ice cream.  I am so grateful to have collaborated with you this summer and learn from you.  This is only the beginning, and I’m excited to see our thesis work develop and continue working together.  Most importantly, thank you for being my friend, and I’m just a little mad that I never learned any K-pop dances!

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