"Water" you going to do?
Early this Spring, our 12 Green Jobs Interns watched a video discussing the Flint water crisis. Inspired by that video and after conducting a soil testing lab, they interns designed a project to test water sources in and around their neighborhood (including tap water, Wintergreen Brook, and West Rock runoff). The store-bought test found that the tap water came up with a positive result for lead. Concerned about their findings, Interns dedicated their season’s Community Service Action Project towards getting more answers, to see if indeed the water may be lead-tainted. They decided to contact the proper authorities for follow up testing and consultation. But before making the calls, they practiced what to say while making a professional phone call. Eventually they set up an appointment with the South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority. Tom Barger visited the program, and had a conversation about how water is delivered to the taps and what problems may arise, and observed while official lab samples were taken. The next day they drafted a follow up email thanking the RWA reps for their time and attention. A few weeks later, Tom Barger emailed the results of the tests. The results showed that the water was safe!
Water testing was one of 9 Community Service Action Projects (C-SAPS) completed by the Green Jobs Interns this Spring. Each week, the group explored and acted on environmental or community issues such as soils, water, and climate. Interns explored the science, ecology, and problems communities face through lessons and workshops both in Westville Manor and offsite. After learning and engaging with new material, Interns planned a weekly project related to the week’s issue. Other C-SAPS and Public Education Projects completed this season included:
- Community Herb Planting: Interns went door to door in the community to talk about Green Jobs and offered to plant an herb in a container. They educated residents on how to care and grow their plant.
- Trail Erosion Mitigation: Interns worked on the Solar Youth Trail (leading up West Rock). They dredged out a stream and filled in a waterlogged depression that had formed.
- Wintergreen Brook Cleanup: Interns removed trash from the stream and took abandoned tires to use in a container garden.
- Water Testing: Interns tested three water sources around their neighborhood followed up with the Regional Water Authority.
- Volunteer Day at New Haven Farms: Interns prepared several garden beds at a New Haven Farms site in Fair Haven.
- Westville Manor Community Garden: In the Westville Manor Community Garden, the team fixed the fence , cleaned out the trash, pulled up the weeds and planted.
- Tree Planting with Urban Resources Initiative: Interns joined the URI Green Skills team and planted three trees at a residential location in East Shore.
- Bike Co-op Work Day: Founder of Bradley St. Bike Co-Op, John Martin, and the Green Jobs Interns disassembled two junked bikes to salvage their parts.
- Planting with Citycology: Interns laid out a square foot garden grid in the Citycology Program’s raised bed. Each intern paired up with a Citycology Steward and helped them through planting.
- Energy Efficiency Education: Interns went door to door in their neighborhoods to pass out custom wristbands they had designed with an energy saving slogan and educated residents on simple ways to save on their energy bills.
- Solar Youth Rock to Rock Tabling: Green Jobs set up a table at the Rock to Rock Earth Day Ride. At the table, Interns educated others on how to improve home energy efficiency, and challenged people to match seeds to their plants.
- Spring 2018 Public Education Forum: Interns presented the work they had done over the Spring season.
Through these projects, explorations, workshops, field trips, and lessons the Green Jobs Interns showed incredible leadership and learned lifelong skills. One example of this was the teams’ work in Nonviolent Communication (one of Solar Youth’s 5 program elements) with longtime partners and FOSY, Joe Brummer and Joanne Wilcox. Joe Brummer gave the interns an overview Nonviolent Communication (NVC) and how to use it. JoAnne Wilcox worked with the group for four sessions. Over the four sessions, she got to know them, their community, and their conflicts. With JoAnne and NVC, Interns were able to open up and learn skills to overcome obstacles. These conversations made it possible for the group to become a cohesive team. Conversations were lively and working outside together was playful and exciting. Green Jobs Interns shared that their biggest take away of the season were lessons in the importance of teamwork, making new connections and lasting friendships.