Tag Archives: summer intern

Ambassadors, Advocates, and Librarians

What I took from my 5 Days at ALA Chicago Conference
by Lydia Golitz, GWP Summer Intern

Thanks to the incredible Dede Cummings, I was able attend the American Library Association’s annual conference from June 22 to June 27. This summer, it was held in Chicago, where I live and intern remotely for GWP. I was sent to do many things, among them: to learn how to be in conversation with libraries and educators, to spread the word about one of GWP’s upcoming release, Salamander Sky, and explore all the fun things ALA has to offer. I had a blast, all while gathering information and inspiration left and right.

Of all the incredible people I encountered at ALA, two really, genuinely, impacted me. One was Gene Luen Yang, and the other was Hillary Clinton. They were both featured speakers who really encapsulated what I feel is so important about what—and how!—we read.

Gene Luen Yang is an accomplished graphic novelist whose works center around the Asian-American experience. All of his work, especially his most accomplished pieces: American Born Chinese, and The New Superman, have inspired conversations about diversity in literature. In a moment of illumination, Yang spoke about what it means to be an “ambassador” and what it means to be an “advocate.” Ambassadors are people (authors, characters, readers) who relay other’s experiences in an empathetic way, and advocacy is sharing stories that speak to experiences representative of your own. In this way, Yang said, ambassadors teach you how to love others, and advocates teach you how to love yourself. And literature should do just that—create an empathy for others, while empowering the reader to be true to themselves in a noble way. His talk highlighted the importance of representation, and that anyone, from any background, race, or gender, is capable of doing anything, including being both an ambassador and an advocate. And one essential way in inspiring that inclusion is being able to see characters just like them in the stories they read.

. . . it is clear that “access equals opportunity,” books are of the UTMOST importance in every community.

Hillary Clinton spoke to the importance of representation as well, taking it a step farther in talking about how these books reach people everyday. Because it is clear that “access equals opportunity,” books are of the UTMOST importance in every community. With the help of free, instructional libraries, books can be endlessly accessed and open everyone to limitless opportunity through knowledge and empowerment. She also spoke to the importance of how we read. In the age of “fake news” and “alternative facts” it is more important than ever to be a critical reader. Clinton emphasized that libraries and books are the things that encourage and teach that critical reading and media literacy, and are therefore indispensable right now, and for our future.

Just from my short 6 weeks here at GWP, I can tell that all of these commitments are also central to what GWP strives to do. As people who write, read, and love books, we hold so much power in our world and in our own local communities to change perceptions and start important conversations through literature, poetry, and art. Interested in libraries, outreach, or changing the world? Start conversations with your local branch, your local bookstore, your local educators, readers, and writers. If you’re looking for just a good place to start reading, check out GWP’s own authors, who are all so committed to changing the world for the better, through advocacy for the environment.

Weneeddiversebooks.org and reading-without-walls.com are also good resources to help us expose ourselves to literature we might not even think about looking for. Though it can be a hefty challenge to read outside of the box, I believe it is one of the most important ones we have the privilege to participate in. Happy reading!

 

 

—Lydia Golitz,
GWP Summer Editorial Intern
Bennington College

Urban Gardening Blog: Backyard Bounty

Hello, Jessica here! I am one of the interns for Green Writers Press this summer, and I bring to you all my family’s small farm in our backyard in Brooklyn, New York.

Our cat, called Sour Veggies, amongst the squash vines and spinach.

As a student of environmentalism and as a city-dweller, urban farming is a phrase I am very familiar with. At times though, I have found that the urban farming conversation presented in New York is often lost in the larger folds of “green” living trends: Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, farmer’s markets, co-ops, heirloom tomatoes, and such. People are more likely to depend on markets to provide them local, fresh foods, than to plant and grow produce themselves, this being because of a lack of time and space, motivation, and of knowledge and/or experience.

If you look up “New York urban farming” on a search engine (Yahoo and Google for me) today, there is only a handful of fresh results. There are about two media posts written about community urban agriculture in New York for 2017 and they are mostly lists that account the projects going on. (See the bottom of this post for some of these links.) It seems to be a quiet but promising start, with indoor and hydroponic projects going on, and even aquaponic farms that grow plants in a closed system with fish, using the fish poop as plant fertilizer and the plants as water filterers.

A community urban farming project can only be successful if there is solid support and demand from the community. Not only would it need a community to give it material resources, but also people willing to put in the effort to grow and manage produce. Take America’s victory gardens of World War II or even Cuba’s urban agriculture conversion in the 1990s as examples of large scale urban growing projects. Though both those scenarios were formed in times of dire need, they act as models of potential community based pathways; nothing, really, is stopping us from creating our own local, fresh produce or of demanding that there be public space provided for it.

But enough about big projects, let’s return to my family’s backyard. By showing how my family manages a no-frills kind of backyard farm, I want to contribute to the demystification of the difficulty of growing food, something not just urban dwellers, but anyone who relies on outside food resources seems to be under.  We are very fortunate to have this plot of land and though this is not an example of growing produce in extreme urban spaces without access to land, I hope our narrative will add to the slow but steadily growing landscape of New York urban farming and expose people to how it is nourishing our life at home.

My family farms on a six by three yard plot of upraised soil, and have built a nine foot tall overhanging trellis for the squash. This trellis spans the length of our backyard overhead and come July, the squash vines completely cover the trellis to create a sort of shadow-speckled retreat underneath. The vines will leave the soil, climbing the tied up poles and nets to bask in the sunlight, and the squash, as they ripen, will dangle underneath the trellis like green chandeliers. This kind of farming that allows plants to transcend the ground is called vertical farming. Vertical farming is an efficient kind of farming for small plots of land: above, vines can grow and below, on the open, but shaded soil herbs and other shade-tolerant plants can grow. Vertical farming is becoming a practical alternative in cramped urban spaces like New York City, where many projects are using vertically stacked layers to grow herbs and vegetables indoors.

Our backyard farm. Note the overhanging trellis built for the vines.

For my parents, who both grew up farming rice patties in southern China, growing their own produce is not simply an optional green alternative; it is inseparable from their way of living. It is a source of pride for them that they can provide for the home in another way besides having full time jobs.

Young cucumbers climbing on the vine. @urbanveggies6x3

We grow cucumbers, winter melon, bitter gourd, spinach, ginger, yam leaves, tomatoes, and other vegetables. What growing a small farm has taught us is that there is always more than enough, and our bounty is shared amongst family and friends. Nothing is sold for commercial purposes and my family uses only one kind of insecticide, a slug and snail killer, in our practice.

Links on New York urban farming:

http://www.amny.com/lifestyle/brooklyn/brooklyn-farms-urban-agriculture-is-booming-1.9354334

http://www.nycfoodpolicy.org/11-nyc-urban-agriculture-organizations-follow-social-media-right-now/

http://www.okofarms.com/

https://www.theverge.com/2016/6/15/11937882/verticulture-aquaponic-farm-brooklyn-fish-poop-fertilizer

 

Follow us on Instagram @urbanveggies6x3 to see how our kind of urban farming can be done, and follow us @greenwriterspress to see how an environmentally conscious publishing house works.

Jessica is a student at Bennington College and lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her family.

 

Our Summer Locavore Book CSA & Some New Faces

ALEX FISCHER, from Brattleboro, is our new bookkeeper

AlexFischerAfter years of organic farming and working as a bookkeeper, Alex decided to take the plunge and start Open Bookkeeping. The business is rooted in the values and experiences learned from social justice organizing and managing the finances of small businesses and nonprofits.  Alex holds an MBA in Managing for Sustainability from Marlboro Graduate School in Brattleboro, VT. Grounded in past experiences on farms, at farmers markets and in restaurants, Alex understands the reality facing small business owners and sees the need for innovative and alternative business models, such as Community Supported Businesses (ie CSA farms), worker owned cooperatives and other vertically integrated structures. In Vermont, Alex co-founded HomoPromo, a queer events promotion collective, volunteers with Vermont Worker’s Center and Migrant Justice and facilitates anti-oppression and anti-racism workshops and trainings.Carley, Dede’s rescue dog is already excited to have Alex on board!  Continue reading

Our Summer Intern is here! Meet Desmond Peeples

dspeeplesDesmond S. Peeples is a writer of fiction and nonfiction loosely based in Vermont. His work is either available or forthcoming in Big Bridge, Cultural Logic, and Goreyesque.  During his time at Goddard College in Plainfield, VT, Desmond completed the manuscript of a speculative novel, and he is currently hunting for literary representation. Most recently he founded Mount Island, an online literary magazine now accepting quality prose and poetry for its debut issue.

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