Tag Archives: Community

Seniors Sam Wilder and Paul Krantz use the garden to seek refuge from their busy college lives.

The USF Community Garden: Cultivating More Than Just Produce

One of the best-kept secrets at the University of San Francisco is that there is an urban community garden behind the Education Building on Turk Street. The garden sits on 1/8 of an acre, and grows a number of fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Students, faculty, and community members passionate about nature visit the garden weekly to grow, eat, and connect with the environment. The USF Community Garden, however, cultivates more than just produce.

What used to be an ROTC training field is now an outdoor classroom and sacred space for students and community members with a green thumb. Working in the urban garden promotes sustainable food consumption and service learning, and links the community back to nature.

Professors Melinda Stone and Seth Wachtel established the garden in 2007 as part of a new living learning community called “The Garden Project,” where students agreed to regularly volunteer their time to the garden. When more students became interested in learning about sustainable foods, USF created the urban agriculture minor.

Today, the garden serves multiple purposes.

USF’s community garden is, for one, an outdoor classroom for urban agriculture students and students in the Community Garden Outreach service learning class. David Silver, associate professor of media studies and environmental studies, described the garden as “a living laboratory” because students can learn hands-on about agriculture, sustainability, and giving back.

Silver mentioned that the garden is also, and foremost, a place of food production. “We produce a ton of food which goes into the farm stand,” he said. Silver is referring to the occasional farm stands on-campus hosted by community garden volunteers, where students and faculty can purchase whole meals — mainly, salads, soups, and desserts — made with fresh, seasonal ingredients from the garden.

The garden serves many people beyond the USF community, as well. According to Silver, the produce also goes towards a free community dinner at St. Cyprian’s Church, located down the street, on Turk and Lyon. The monthly dinner, also hosted by community garden volunteers, serves an average of 80 to 100 people. The remaining food is donated to Booker T. Washington’s food bank, said Silver. Last Friday, students from Raoul Wallenberg Traditional High School visited the garden to learn and lend a hand.

The garden also serves as what Silver calls “a site of reflection” for students and professors. Silver says the garden is an excellent place to log off, relax, breath fresh air, and simply be in nature.

Seniors Sam Wilder and Paul Krantz use the garden to seek refuge from their busy college lives. Wilder, who is highly passionate about urban farming and knowing where his food comes from, calls the garden, “my little slice of paradise.” Like other students, he uses the garden to further his knowledge in sustainable, local, and organic produce. He said it feels like people have lost the connection between growing and consuming food. “The USF garden reconnects us to our food and our earth. Participating in the garden makes me feel like I’m doing something right and it makes me happy.”

Silver thinks it is important for future generations to “learn the opposite of the digital and actually work with your hands, in the dirt, to create something, and then actually [eat] it.” Volunteers spend hours in the garden, digging, planting, and cultivating, but after each workday, participants are welcome to take what they please from the garden.

Both Silver and Wilder believe it is important for Americans to rethink their means of nourishment. The distribution of food requires tremendous amount of energy and resources to get the product from the farm to the table, they explain. Urban farming could be a solution to this unhealthy habit of consumption.

Urban Gardens are springing up all over San Francisco and other big cities. The San Francisco Urban Agriculture Alliance reports that today, commercial garden and small farm sites are now legal, city-wide. It states: “This ordinance allows properly permitted and code-abiding gardeners and farmers to sell any produce they grow directly to the public on site. Growers were previously required to haul their bounty to a third party commercial zone, like a farmers market, or sell through a distributor.”

The California Food Policy Council (CAFPC) also promotes policies that develop urban agriculture and ensure protection of the environment. Community gardens serve as vibrant sustainable food systems that protect and restore the environment and natural resources.

According to Anne Carter of the Community Food Systems Lab, “use of organic agricultural practices will decrease further introduction of chemicals to city soils and water supply.”

The community garden at USF is constantly evolving, and the most recent additions include a greenhouse and worm bin. Silver believes that the mild temperature in the garden grows the best brassicas, a genus of plant from the mustard family, like kale and Swiss chard.

 

Silver and Wilder encourage students and community members to visit the garden and come to the work days, held each Friday afternoon from 2 to 5 p.m.

Service Learning More Than Just a Requirement

I used to perceive service-learning solely as a way to meet a university requirement or to make students feel accomplished about doing something meaningful with our education. Although I do not  look down on this attitude, I now see that there is more to service-learning than simply those reasons. During my service-learning course last year, I volunteered at a homeless shelter in the Tenderloin, asking clients questions about homelessness. I got into a conversation with one of the clients there who was very critical of our intentions. He said there was a similar group there the week before asking the same questions and nothing had changed.  He asked me, why did I think what I was doing would lead to change? Whom exactly did I think I was helping? And why wasn’t I talking to people out across the street, away from my cozy group of friends?

His skepticism made me see service through another’s eyes.  Maybe, he was wrong and I was making a difference. But, maybe I wasn’t. The point is, service-learning experiences are not always clear, always perfect, or always heartwarming. Sometimes the point is to see the huge disparity between what we, as service-learners, are trying to achieve and what we are truly accomplishing. We are also there to see the discrepancy between what we are told about social issues and what we actually experience. Sometimes we see the immense distinction between our good intentions and what the end result really is.

To further explore these issues I became an Advocate for Community Engagement (ACE) to coordinate service-learning projects.  Service-learning aims to equally benefit students and the community through service that relates to academic coursework.  In the process students have the opportunity to open their eyes to these disparities, to inform class concepts with community realities, to practice the mission of USF, and truly, not shallowly, educate our minds and hearts so that we may become agents for social change.  I know it sounds like a tall order, and certainly idealistic, but we have to start somewhere.

ACEs work for the Office of Service-Learning and Community Action as well as at specific non-profit organizations within San Francisco. We act as liaisons between the non-profit, faculty, and students in service-learning classes at USF. We hold orientations, develop relevant service projects that relate to coursework, and facilitate written and oral reflections to connect ideas from the non-profit to the classroom and to larger social issues.

Performing research, serving a meal, tutoring a child: these are the first steps to starting real social change. Service-learning at USF provides the unique opportunity to go deeper, to get outside of the island that is USF, and to examine the hard questions through direct community engagement. Why do people suffer while others look on complacently? Why do our institutions seem to serve the rich rather than the poor? How can we shape the world to suit our real needs and not needs our consumerist culture?

The shelter client challenged me to take an honest look at these questions and I challenge you to do the same through service-learning.

LD Students’ Guide to Postsecondary Education

Blog Address: http://www.remakingthenewsforldstudents.blogspot.com/?zx=e5e77ce9f42a43ad

As of 2008, there were slightly over three million students diagnosed with learning disabilities enrolled in postsecondary education in the United States either in vocational and career schools or two and four year colleges and universities.

In the Bay Area, 15% of high school students have been diagnosed with a learning disability.

Our goal is to make the college transition easier for these students. To do this, we created a blog with contact information, student population numbers, resources, and software available for students with learning disabilities at four different colleges in the Bay Area: St. Mary’s College, University of San Francisco, College of San Mateo, and San Francisco State University. We intervied the director of each school’s disabilities department and toured their facilities. Finally, we offer a final analysis of what we think of each program; feel free to offer your own opinion on our blog.

The four schools were chosen in order to give examples of programs at varying levels of postsecondary education. We are looking to add more schools to our blog in the coming months, along with photos and possibly video tours of the different campus facilities.
This is a very important issue that is affecting many students and families. The national high school dropout rate in the United States as of 2005, the last year that the data was collected by the Department of Education, was 29%, an improvement of 5% since the beginning of the decade, according to the New York Times. The dropout rate for students with learning disabilities was 36% at that same point, though the Advocacy Institute claims the dropout rate for LD students is currently double that of students without. This is partly because high schools cannot help all LD students find a postsecondary school that meets their needs and partly because laws concerning students with disabilities change at the postsecondary level.

Throughout their academic careers, the 1973 Rehabilitation Act (Section 504) and 1990′s Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, both of which prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability at the elementary, secondary, and postsecondary level, protect these students.

These laws give rights to LD students in every school district and postsecondary school in the United States, but responsibilities change significantly at the postsecondary level in how those rights are addressed.
For example, in elementary and secondary education, a school district is required to offer a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to all students with learning disabilities within their district, meaning the district must identify needs on a case-by-case basis and provide aids and services necessary to meet those needs. In providing these aids and services, the school district must ensure that the needs of LD students are met as well as the needs of students without disabilities.
Postsecondary schools are not required to provide FAPE. They are only required to provide aid that is necessary to ensure they are not discriminating against LD students.

In fulfilling this requirement, postsecondary schools must similarly take into account individual needs.
Examples of services to attend to these needs are providing note takers, sign language interpreters, and priority registration. Postsecondary schools are not required to provide personal services or devices, such as tutoring and typing.

Because postsecondary schools are not required to provide as many resources for LD students as elementary and secondary schools, postsecondary education choices for LD students is even more narrow and limited. Our goal is to make the school selection process easier for LD students, their families, and high schools by having all of the information needed in a single location. If you would like us to add something to our blog, or find something that you think should be changed, feel free to let us know. We have provided a link to the blog below along with our own contact information.

Nicholas Mukhar: nsmukhar@usfca.edu
Nicholas Baradello: Nicholas.baradello@comcast.net

The views express herein may not be those of the Foghorn Online. This content has been submitted by the greater online community and reviewed for basic discretionary content by our editors. For any other further questions, please contact web@sffoghorn.info

USF Consulting Club Students Volunteer at United Nations Peacebuilding Symposium

About a month and a half ago, 6 undergraduate students helped Rotarians of International Club of San Francisco #2 host the Rotary Club’s first ever PeaceBuilding Symposium on March 15 at the Veterans War Memorial and Performing Arts Center (next to City Hall) holding more than 200 people. The Symposium was co-sponsored by the United Nations Association of San Francisco and the United Nations University. It received additional support from the University of San Francisco Consulting Club and the Rotary Peace Center of the University of California Berkeley. The central theme of the Peacebuilding Symposium was “A Call to Action.” This was partly planned to celebrate the Rotary Club’s Centennial of a 100 years of service. The event was dedicated to building world peace and understanding, a core mission of Rotary International, United Nations and University of San Francisco. The Symposium was an all day event, there were 8 panels that embodied a single UN Millennium Development Goal. There are a total of 8 MDGS:
1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
2. Achieve universal primary education
3. Promote gender equality and empower women
4. Reduce child mortality
5. Improve maternal health
6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
7. Ensure environmental sustainability
8. Develop a global partnership for development

One of the Consulting Club favorites was Rotary’s stance on the eradication of Polio. For more than 20 years, the Rotary club has worked on the eradication of Polio in the world, the United States has been the leading public-sector of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative about a quarter of all funding, Rotary Club has been at the forefront of this endeavor. There were 2 key note speakers: Gillian Sorensen and Dr. Jean Marc Coicaud. Gillian Sorensen is formerly with the United Nations and now is Senior Advisor and National Advocate for the UN Millennium Development Goals. She elaborated on their creation, their purpose, and their implementation. Dr. Jean Marc Coicaud is the Director of the United Nations University. Dr. Coicaud discussed the peacekeeping efforts of the United Nations.
Of the other 6 panels these covered poverty eradication, education, medical, environmental, religion and refugee rights. Although religion is not one of the millennium goals it was considered a necessary part in the establishment of peace. The poverty eradication panel presented micro lending programs, direct support, and fair trade projects. All of these activities allow for direct participation in promoting indigenous economies and income for peoples of developing countries. The medical panel included presentations on polio and malaria eradication, cleft lip and palate surgery teams. The Environmental Panel showed that jobs and infrastructure development can occur in environmentally sustainable ways, including retaining and replanting forest lands, engineering water projects with appropriate technology, removing land minds and reclaiming agricultural land, and re-training former guerrillas to farm and process palm oil into a green biodiesel. The Refugees Rights Panel discussed the reasons for refugee rights and the urgent need to provide basic human rights for refugees in countries like Sudan, Cambodia, Kymer Rouge, Colombia and Ecuador. The Religion Panel discussed interfaith cooperation and respect for religious differences and how to end violence in the name of religion. Religion speakers came from Sufism, Catholicism, Anglican, Jewish, and Presbyterian backgrounds, including San Francisco’s Anglican bishop William Swing. All in All the day was packed with numerous occasions. The USF Consulting Club had a great learning experience, networking opportunity and sense of service over self especially with the involvement of all the presentations of philanthropy.

The views express herein may not be those of the Foghorn Online. This content has been submitted by the greater online community and reviewed for basic discretionary content by our editors. For any other further questions, please contact web@sffoghorn.info

 

1st Annual USF Film Festival

1st Annual “All Thriller No Filler” University of San Francisco Student Film Festival

Not pretentious enough for the SF Film Festival? Come to the 1st Annual “All Thriller No Filler” USF Student Film Festival on Thursday, May 7th from 7-9:30pm in Xavier Chapel. The Festival will feature only the best that student filmmakers have to offer with recent film submissions ranging from comedies and horrors to soap operas and action films.

The Campus Activities Board is heating up the film scene on campus with the belief that bringing students together is best done at the movies. We invite you to watch how your neighbor sees the world for five minutes. Maybe it will scare the crap out of you or, maybe it will take you to a higher place.

As Steven Spielberg puts it,

We like to tease ourselves..(we) have a need to get close to the edge, and when filmmakers..take (us) to the edge, it feels like a dream where you’re falling, but you wake up just before you hit the ground.

Immediately following the Festival, you are invited to attend the “All Thriller No Filler” after party at the Rock-it-Room 406 Clement St. There will be drink specials all night long and guest deejays from our radio station KUSF 90.3 spinning the best of the best tunes. The party starts at 10:00 p.m. until close with no cover charge. The after party is 21+.

The Film Committee is accepting submissions for the festival until 5:00 p.m. Friday, May 1st at the drop-box in room 100 of the UC Building.

Whether you are a filmmaker, a critical mind, or a socialite, join us on May 7th at the 1st Annual “All Thriller No Filler” USF Student Film Festival. Admission is free. For more information check Facebook.com, and search “All Thriller No Filler.”

Nicholas Cruz
npcruz@dons.usfca.edu

The views express herein may not be those of the Foghorn Online. This content has been submitted by the greater online community and reviewed for basic discretionary content by our editors. For any other further questions, please contact web@sffoghorn.info

LinkedIn for Recent Grads and Students

If you’re looking for a job, you can’t NOT be in LinkedIn. It positively shocks me that every college and university is not making this clear to today’s graduating class.
- Pure Visibility Blog author

What you know is very important, but who you know can get you the job. Accordingly, I am a big fan of LinkedIn.com. An employer found me for my current public relations job via that site, and I have discovered personal connections at other companies that I have been interested in working for. I created a profile on LinkedIn two years ago, grew a large network, and I have been reaping the benefits ever since.

Recently, I invited more of my friends to join my network on the site. Though many people wonder, “What on earth is LinkedIn?! How is it different from other networking sites, such as Facebook? Why should I bother joining?” The LinkedIn staff presents a comprehensive answer in their guide for upcoming grads (and young people, in general): grads.linkedin.com. Included is a crafty video that uses paper cut-outs to illustrate the advantages of LinkedIn (check it below).

- Courtney Parham, USF alumna 2008
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The views express herein may not be those of the Foghorn Online. This content has been submitted by the greater online community and reviewed for basic discretionary content by our editors.