Woodlawn is a neighborhood of hard work, hope, belief, and vision. The people we are serving in our computer classes are dedicated, goal oriented, and grateful. Those at the food pantries are kind, welcoming, and friendly. The kids at Blackstone have an amazing energy, dedication, and drive. And the service providers, non profit leaders, and other community pillars are all hopeful and creative. Woodlawn is also sadly, a place of many problems -violence, some anger, trash, and addiction are some that we have been exposed to walking around the neighborhood,talking to members of the community, and meeting leaders of organizations. I also might suggest -though I could be wrong -that Woodlawn lacks community pride. There is not any sense of community culture or cohesion that I sense that brings people together and makes them especially proud to live in the neighborhood. This is something I would still like to investigate and pay attention to. Regardless, I hope that our project -to beautify the neighborhood by adding brightly colored and decorated waste baskets, will add.
My favorite site visits thus far have included the experimental station and Louis’ Grocer. The experimental station is a place full of amazing energy. Just in the name you get a sense of what the organization is all about -ideas and experimentation. The people we have worked with there have expressed and demonstrated this value in trying new things to best serve the community with, such as the subsidized farmer’s market, the bike program, and garden classes for kids. I especially liked the Bike Works program and how it provides neighborhood youth with not only a fun community and program to be a part of, but a skill and project to be proud of. Fixing bikes is challenging and very involved. I can totally see the appeal and draw of this program and the agency it gives its participants. I also really enjoyed visiting Louis’s Grocer. It seemed like such an exciting thing to start your own non-profit and I could feel that uncertain and creative energy that must come with a new, not quite fully established organization. I also really love their research oriented, data driven approach and their desire to truly understand how to best accomplish their goal of encouraging people in the community to eat healthy.
What I like most about SSP is the team-building. I love my team, and it has been awesome to see us grow stronger and closer. Spending so much time with my team has made me really see what assets they bring to serving the community. It has also allowed us to have fun and be funny together, which makes it so easy to come to work in the morning. I am very excited to work on our project as well. Our goal is to do a “Make Woodlawn Walkable” campaign, including mapping and identifying certain trash “hot spots”, cleaning up the worst areas, and proposing that we add and decorate 5-10 waste baskets to the blocks that need them the most. In addition, we hope to carry out an outreach campaign to let people know about the new trash cans and why it is important to walk so that you can be healthy. I believe that my role in this project will be to help our high school leaders do with they need to do to make this happen and guide them in the project implementation so that they can see the rewards of their own work.