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10/22: Round 1 Project Reveal!!!

I just got back from finding out where my first Spike project and destination will be, but first I am going to make you read about my day. It’s gonna be a massive post, so settle in!

Today was National Made a Difference Day (MaDD), and every team here worked a full service project from 8:30am until 4pm. Our team was paired up with Silver 5 and together we cleaned up a community garden. MORE COMMUNITY GARDENS. I wasn’t thrilled when we were told about the work, but it ended up being a much more positive experience than last Tuesday. For one, our whole team was able to participate, including our TL, and it gave us a chance to experience our team working cohesion and such. Overall, I’m happy with my team (save for one individual who behaves like he’s 13 and is rude as heck, but I’m not going to take up space in my blog with him). We’re all hard workers, task-oriented, and we ended up belting out Disney songs to pass the time weeding.

The garden we cleaned up was part of the Mather Community Campus, a transitional housing campus for homeless adults run primarily by the Volunteers of America. What made today’s work so much more interesting was the fact that this was a place where older adults (mainly 40-60 years old) gained the skills they needed to get back into the working world and back on their feet. They use the garden as a place of reflection, and also to teach self-sufficiency. The other gardens last week were more of a social or local gathering place for middle-class suburban neighborhoods. Nothing against the community space, but this work felt like it was Doing More Good. The Mather program is a two year set-up, where students learn technological and trade skills, as well as resume training and interview workshops. The main reason adults of this age group are unemployed is a lack of technological familiarity. There is a graduation ceremony each year for students who complete the necessary classes and programs (including AA or NA, if needed), and who have successfully found employment and affordable housing. The campus even fed us in their cafeteria, something unexpected and awesome. It gave us the chance to talk to some of the people in the program and spread the word about NCCC.

It was a great day, I got a bit sunburn but I am working on my AmeriTan (basically, farmers tan minus the legs because we mainly wear our long BDU pants for garden work), lots of pictures were taken (none by me) but I’ll try to find them when they get tossed on Facebook and reupload them here.


On Thursday, November 3rd we will have an induction ceremony for all Corps members who have completed CTI. After the ceremony, all 28 teams will depart for their first round projects! And my team will be heading off to…


Yeah, I had no idea either. But talking with our TL and further internet research has me totally jazzed for this project. Let’s start with a map.

Gmaps says Bishop’s Ranch is 2 hours and 45 minutes from campus, meaning we are far enough away that we will not be living in our dorms for the first round (YAY!). We’ll be in Healdsburg for almost 6 weeks, staying part of the time in the Lodge at the Ranch and the other part in tents in the woods. The Bishop’s Ranch, website here, is a retreat and conference center in the heart of Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley. It’s used mainly by the Episcopal church but is also rented out for corporate events and such. As far as I can tell, it’s absolutely gorgeous.

We’ll be doing a variety of work for the ranch, including but not limited to fuel reduction in the surrounding forest, removing invasive water plants from the central pond/swimming areas, general maintenance to the grounds (over 500 acres!), filing and organization for non-profits in the area, and maybe even some blacksmithing! Lunches and some random meals will be cooked by the staff, and for the most part we’ll be living pretty posh. We may have to camp out if the place is rented by a corporation for meetings, but that might not happen as we head into late fall/winter.

That’s pretty much all I know for now. One of my teammates is actually from Windsor (about 15 minutes from our site) and she’ll have loads to show and tell us. I haven’t had the chance to talk to any of my friends on other teams about their trips, but we’re going to meet up, order pizza, and get to talking!

The other piece of news we got today were our team positions for the year. I got the two I was hoping for: CAPper and SLI. CAPper stands for Corps Ambassador Program Representative, and means I am a recruitment liaison/marketing assistant for the NCCC program. Basically, I get to talk non-stop about NCCC and how legit it is, and set up events at high schools, college campuses, non-profits and career fairs to educate the public about NCCC and recruit more people! I’ll be doing this with another teammate.

My other position was my number one choice: Service Learning Initiator. I’m doing this job solo, and I’ll be responsible for coordinating all team service learning opportunities while working on a project. Service learning is a methodology through which members will acquire the knowlede and skills needed to perform community service, and gain an in-depth understanding of the value of the work and the impact on the greater community. That’s a whole lotta words, but it boils down to take-home messages. I’ll be doing a SL event every week with my team, where we reflect on the service done and tie it in to bigger social issues. Examples of SL events include watching a documentary, discussing a journal article, reflecting in our own words, etc. At the conclusion of an NCCC project, each team has to write a project portfolio, which captures what we’ve learned and accomplished over the 6-8 weeks. BASICALLY I AM THE TEAM TEACHER AND ITS GONNA BE RAD.

And tomorrow I get the whole day off! My cough is worse than yesterday but still! High spirits all around! Thanks for reading and have a happy Sunday!

The BEST holidays

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