This is a different kind of service than what one usually sees. One thing I have heard a lot from this summer is a kind of service called “volunteerism”. We have all seen or done volunteerism: it is where someone goes to volunteer for a couple hours at a food pantry giving out food to those who need it. That service is important, but it does not solve the root of the problem. The question is, “why are people hungry and how can we eradicate the problem?” Here at Solid Ground, I see the process of start to finish with the food, from the time the food comes in as seeds to the food being delivered to RVFB to the people getting that food. This is the kind of service that allows everyone to have a personal interest in the food being produced and received: you can even get your own bag of produce for two hours of labor at one of Solid Ground’s farms. Everyone is allowed to see this process, which in turn gives people a personal interest in the food, which allows one to appreciate the labor taken to produce, for example, a head of lettuce. Secondly, RVFB allows me to see a different kind of food bank. Just like Solid Ground, RVFB educates the disadvantaged with job skills to allow them to be productive workers in the labor force. Even more, the food there, like I said before, comes from SCF! Its organic produce, not canned foods. It’s a “grocery store” where people can take from a sample of items instead of being given items. I couldn’t have said it better than Nate explained it to me: “everyone deserves dignity.”
Unlike most DukeEngage participants my parents and I live 20 minutes from the Solid Ground office, so people automatically think I know my way around here. Actually, I don’t know my way around Seattle at all. Previously, the only places in Seattle I would go normally were the places around 45th Street in the University District. Turns out, we are 10 minutes away from the only street I have known in Seattle, but I only know one portion of the street. Does that mean I don’t know where I’m going? No. I still know because I can easily make out routes for where I’m going, thank goodness for Google Maps.
I can’t tell you where this experience will lead me. The project and the city alike have yet to reveal so many more secrets. I can’t wait to see what these next seven weeks will bring me. Where am I really going with this experience? Only time will tell. But I can’t be more excited to ride the wave!
By Mirko Tancredi