Written by Camron McDonald
On an overcast Seattle day in January, a group of 27 Global Visionaries students, armed with shovels and gardening gloves, hunt around in the underbrush of Jose Rizal Park.
They are looking for small sprouts of English Ivy and Himalayan blackberry that dare try and grow in this newly reclaimed urban forest. Later that day, students will transplant several one-year-old seedling evergreens while learning about the environmental history of Seattle.
Not so long ago this piece of land was all but swallowed up by ivy and blackberry. Thanks to EarthCorps, a Seattle-based nonprofit organization that works to reclaim valuable plots of urban nature, native plants such as fir and pine will have the chance to thrive here.
Today, this one-time wasteland is on its way to becoming a balanced, healthy ecosystem. EarthCorps is one of three organizations through which Global Visionaries students can pursue community service.
Local service is a big part of Global Visionaries’ year-long youth development program. GV truly embodies the adage “Think Globally, Act Locally.”
In addition to EarthCorps, GV partners with Youth Venture, an international youth social entrepreneurship organization; and with Local Roots, a diversified organic vegetable farm in Carnation, WA. Local Roots supplies many of Seattle’s top restaurants with organically grown produce.
Students in each of the three Work Teams devote at least one full day a month toward their specific program.
As part of the Youth Venture Work Team, students have the opportunity to think critically about social change and to become empowered as “change agents” within their communities. Over the course of six months, the organization guides students as they work in teams to develop their own social venture ideas.
Last month, two Global Visionaries students presented their final plans to a Youth Venture panel of judges. Elizabeth Chan presented a plan to promote hunger awareness. Emily Lyons demonstrated her desire to revamp the recycling program at her school.
All participants must create a budget and a strategy for financial sustainability. Each year Youth Venture and its parent organization, Ashoka, award seed money to winning presentations.
Students on the Local Roots Work Team learn about their local food system. They examine and discuss the big questions regarding agriculture and the environment, local food, food sovereignty*, hunger, and food security.
Last month the work team took a field trip to the University of Washington farmers’ market. The students spoke with vendors, sampled vegetables and ended the day with a home-cooked feast that included sautéed parsnips, winter squash and wheat berries.
This month, students will spend a day at the Local Roots farm in Carnation with local food heroes and farm owners Jason and Siri Salvo.
These monthly work days are an exciting part of GV’s programming, connecting students with their local community and empowering them to take action here at home.
To learn more about EarthCorps, Youth Venture, and Local Roots you can visit their websites:
* “Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems. It puts those who produce, distribute and consume food at the heart of food systems and policies rather than the demands of markets and corporations.” http://peoplesforum2009.foodsovereignty.org/