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Executive Summary

This project is co-led by a group of graduate Students of Color at UW, Kaleb Germinaro, Kayla Chui, Jessica Ramirez, and Dr. Shaneé Washington, a faculty member in the College of Education, who volunteer at various community learning spaces outside of schools. One of these spaces is Nurturing Roots, a 1/4-acre urban farm that dedicates itself to cultivating healthy food options by growing organic produce and engaging with community members through farm tours.

Since our time volunteering at Nurturing Roots, we notice many people routinely visit, contribute to the garden and feel welcomed by staff members at the garden and other community members. These types of spaces where Black, Indigenous, and Communities of Color (BIPOC) feel safe and supported exist in pockets around Seattle, but it can be difficult to find. Because of this, this project aims to better understand the ways community learning places in Seattle foster belonging and learning among BIPOC communities and what motivates them to keep coming back. By creating and implementing a survey to BIPOC at Nurturing Roots, this project will build out a community map of places that foster belonging, learning and healthy connections to share with the community, conduct in-depth interviews to better understand and highlight strengths/assets of community spaces, and conduct follow-up surveys for evaluation. Responses from the in-depth interviews will be used to compose counterstories, which is a methodology that, “serves to expose, analyze, and challenge shock stories of racial privilege and can help to strengthen traditions of social, political, and cultural survival and resistance,” (Martinez, 2020).

The proposed illustrated map will bring awareness, recognition and support to various places and businesses across the community while telling their story. Using this community map, we also plan to create a virtual community map. Because we have seen many youth attend Nurturing Roots and other justice-centered community learning spaces, the virtual community map will be developed as a way to advocate for a credit retrieval program for youth in schools. By building relationships with local schools the students attend, we hope to build an accord that allows the students volunteering to obtain a credit to count towards school, especially during school closures in light of COVID-19 in order to promote sustainable learning over time. Being able to receive course credit would encourage BIPOC youth to continue volunteering and engaging in justice-centered learning and advocacy spaces that heighten and foster their critical consciousness. With this community building initiative and credit retrieval program approach, we are promoting a view of possible selves (Yowell, 2002) that allows for career development in the environmental field, promotes academic achievement and motivation, and allows students to work towards graduation while building a relationship with UW and the broader Seattle community.

Primary Contact:
Kaleb Germinaro