Race and Environmental (in)Justice: Healing through Nurturing Roots

Project Size: Large, >$1,000
Estimated Amount to be requested from the CSF: $3,000

Letter of Intent:

Please briefly describe your proposed project, including clearly delineated goals or aims. (500 words or fewer)

This project is co-led by a group of graduate Students of Color at UW and Dr. Shanee 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. They also invite the community to help tend the farm through community work days where they learn while they get their hands dirty: weeding, planting, harvesting and caring for the soil. 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 community map mural and virtual community map. Because we have seen many youth attend Nurturing Roots and other justice-centered community learning spaces, the community map mural and 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.

Please briefly provide any background describing the theoretic and/or empirical justification for your proposed project. (Optional; 250 words or fewer)

bell hooks (1990) suggest that African Americans have historically believed that constructing a homeplace had a radical political dimension (Davis, 2005), and this homeplace allows for Black bodies to be fulfilled and whole. homeplaces specifically are where “Black folx truly matter to each other, where souls are nurtured and healed by loving Blackness” (Love, 2019). Places of learning have the potential for elements of a homeplace, by dismantling antiblackness and oppressive norms, or working the other way and perpetuating these negative stereotypes. This provides insight into some of the sociocultural factors that may play a role in the construction of a homeplace, as well as a framing to potentially categorize the settings within learning spaces as homeplaces or spaces of healing/belonging such as Nurturing Roots Farm. For spaces of learning, belonging is key. This desire is so universal that the need to belong is found across all cultures and different types of people (Baumeister & Leary, 1995). Since we know belonging promotes wellbeing (Bowles, 2007; Allen et al., 2018) we can hypothesize that belonging promotes learning and identity with the added component of an intersectional lens in a space. By supporting multiple identities at their intersections (race, gender, class, religion etc.) we can ensure the space is equitable and fosters belonging. As people experience a homeplace, they are able to foster belonging in their space of activity through learning and resisting systems of oppression.

Please describe how you will evaluate whether or not your project met its intended goals and created impact in the UW and/or greater Seattle community. (500 words or fewer)

Since our outcome for this project is to create a resource for the greater Seattle community, we will evaluate this project by: 1) creating and implementing a survey that will target our aims of understanding how community places foster belonging and learning; 2) completing the community map by September 15th using data collected from the surveys; 3) distributing the community map to at least 10 community spaces in Seattle, including the UW, by October 1st in order to bridge and/or strengthen relationships between organizations and the UW; 4) conducting a 3-month follow-up survey at Nurturing Roots to evaluate how people utilize the community map; 5) collaborating with local schools to create and implement a credit retrieval program which would hopefully result in an increase in local high schools allowing students to count volunteering at community places such as Nurturing Roots, towards course credits and service-learning requirements. Most importantly, because of our prior relationships with Nurturing Roots, we would be able to evaluate our project through informal conversations with community partners and members. Because this is a long lasting relationship with Nurturing Roots and other local community spaces, we value the continued feedback and work that will stem from this project. This project is just one step towards continuing to build and bridge authentic relationships between the UW and BIPOC-led community spaces and organizations.

 

Please provide a detailed, line-item budget proposal of how the funds will be used. For each item, please start a new line in the format: Line number) Dollar amount requested; Expense title, Details. For example: 1) $250; Honorarium; Compensation for guest speaker.

1.)$1000.00; Materials used for maintaining and contributing to Nurturing Roots garden Gloves Compost for expanding garden to street level Shovels, materials used to deconstruct invasives Chicken feed Artist compensation for illustrated community map 2.) $1000.00; Compensation for Nurturing Roots community members and youth who participate in this project @ $50 a response 3.) $800.00; Honorarium for community partner, Nyema Clark 4.) $200.00; Materials needed for community map, mural and virtual map Paper printing and laminating from Saigon Printing (poc owned and operated) Compensation for augmented reality map creation Illustrative art supplies

Primary Contact First & Last Name: Kaleb Germinaro