Tuesday, March 29, 2011

On Surfing Headlong into the Gigantic Wave of Work

I find myself awash with things to do.

AWASH, I tell you!

In my mind there is this tidal wave. It's fairly large and rolling in fast. But there is a distinct difference between this wave and others I have faced.

Usually, when I see that white capped monstrosity forming on the ocean horizon, I stand fast on the shore. Bracing myself. Waiting. Hoping that I will make it through alive once it arrives.

Not this time. This time there is a surfboard beside me. It's skinny and worn looking. I grab it and run into the water. I am a surfing novice, but I am not going to stand there doing nothing while that menacing beast of water comes ever closer. I am going to get out on the water and meet it head on. I am going to do my best to ride that wave. I will teach myself as I go along. I have, after all, had a lesson or two. No more cowering. No more hesitating. I'm going for it. Though I may be afraid at first (terrified, actually), I will find my stride. Soon I will start to enjoy myself. And before I know it I will be having the time of my life, reveling in the rush.

For now, I am on my stomach, paddling towards that wave. There are giant butterflies of anxiety barraging my insides. But I grow ever confident the closer I get.

Now it's time to ditch the metaphor and be literal.

I really do feel like all this work is suddenly coming out of the woodwork. These are things I knew I was going to have to work on at some point. And for my first three months here I have been mostly standing on the shore (sorry, I know I said I was ditching it). No more. Things need to happen.

Let me introduce all of you briefly to my projects.

1. "Kids Can Grow"-I have talked to many of you about this particular program but some of you don't know about it. "Kids Can Grow" is an experiential gardening program for children and their parents. Both parent and child attend 6 monthly meetings spanning from spring and going into the fall. These meetings are basically educational and interactive training sessions and last about 3 hours. At each one of these, participants learn how to build a raised bed garden and begin planting in it. As time progresses, they learn how to transplant, water, maintain, and harvest their garden beds. It all stems from this concept. Smaller gardens built on top of the ground organized into squares in which you plant your seeds. There is less weeding, watering, thinning, and overall maintenance required. Parents and children learn together, with most of the ownership going to the children. These family groups are then given their own materials to go home and build their own garden. This increases the child's feeling of ownership and control over their own space. They chose what goes in the garden. They are responsible for it. Through a 4-H component, kids are then able to harvest their plants and show them at fairs to receive ribbons and rewards. It's an exciting program the unites family units, teaches children how to be more self-sufficient, encourages spending time outdoors, and provides education about horticultural and environmental topics. At each monthly meeting, kids participate in fun and enriching activities that tie into the theme of the day. The last component is the home visit. Each child and parent is visited for an hour once a month so their questions can be answered and they can be offered any help they need. That way they don't feel completely cut off once they start building their own home garden. There is a lot to it, but I am ENDLESSLY excited about getting it going.

2. April Ecology Day Camp-Every year Merryspring holds an ecology day camp in April. It lasts a week and meets for about 3 hours every day of the week. Kids sign up and pay $75 to attend. This year we are going to focus on different aspects of an ecosystem. Things living and non-living, habitats, plants, animals, humans. Each day we will take a hike to a different point of interest at Merryspring. We will work in our nature journals and participate in a variety of activities that apply to the topic of the day.

3. April "work party day"-Every year Merryspring holds a "clean-up work party" day. This is a day where we try to get as many volunteers to come to Merryspring to spiff things up. Mulch and clean up gardens. Remove dead plants and branches. Rake. Make burn piles. And this year we hope to clearly mark some of the trails. This year we are also doing this in conjunction with a local gardening store called Plants Unlimited . They are holding a Green Fair to celebrate the green efforts of local organizations and non-profits in the community. So, at Merryspring we will spend the morning working and then hop on over for fun and festivities at Plants Unlimited.

4. Camden Hills Regional High School Service Learning Project/Installing an Interpretive Trail-So, for those of you who are not sure what a service learning project is, it's exactly what it sounds like. Here is what Wikipedia has to say about it. That's all your going to get from me. I don't want to explain it. So GO TO THE LINK. Last week I sat down with a member of the school board from Ashwood Waldorf School in Rockport, Maine. They are interested in doing a Service Learning Project at Merryspring. Something that fits our needs but has the potential to teach the students and provide an actual service. They also want something that they can come back to year after year and expand/improve on. We talked about logistics and tossed around a couple ideas. Until finally I decide to speak up and say what had been at the front of my brain since the meeting started. Why not have the kids work on an interpretive trail? Merryspring want's one installed (something they asked me to help oversee) and it's the perfect learning tool for kids. Plus, the first stages of it are easy to implement in two months (which is how much time we have before school is over for the year). We started talking, I described what my vision was and how I thought it could work. I we determined to make this happen, now that it was out. The guy from the school, Doug, was just as excited as I was. Ray had some doubts, but I put a stop to those every time one came out. I was the doubt exterminator. And so, THIS IS GOING TO HAPPEN!

5. Summer Tuesday Talk Series, Fall Tuesday Talk Series, plus Winter and Spring presenters for next year-My ongoing project seems to be to contact, follow up with, set up, research, brainstorm, dig around for, and hound current and potential presenters for these Tuesday Talks. Easier said than done sometimes. And not only do I have to find and set up all the presenters for the rest of the year this year, I have to set them of through the spring of next year. That's what last years volunteer did for me. And it HAS been helpful. It's just hard getting in touch with people and getting a response out of them.

So, besides couple other little odds and ends, those are the projects that make up the wave that I am currently stroking towards. On my tiny surf board.

I have to find consistent and willing volunteers for "Kids Can Grow". We have to find out where we are going to get our lumber and get donations from a lot of places. I have to get the "Kids Can Grow" press release out so that we have participants by April 20th. That is the day of the orientation and they are supposed to attend. So in general there is a lot that needs to be done to get "Kids Can Grow" off the idea shelf and onto the "this is going to happen" shelf.

I still have to write out most of the curriculum for the April Ecology Camp and purchase materials and make things and prep for that in general. We have had only one family respond and register their twin daughters. No one else so far. Sad.

I need to Board to step up and tell me they are going to be at the work party day to help head up projects. And we need to get a concise list of things and projects to do. Gail and I need to walk the trails.

For the service learning project, what DOESN'T need to be done? I walked the trail we would like to use for it but it has a lot of problems. Like being well enough marked that people can find it. Boggy areas. Lack of easy access in places. It's just tough. And the more I think about it, the more I doubt that they can get things completed, even in a basic way, by the end of May. ACK!

And because all of these other projects need so much work, finding speakers to come in on Tuesdays in the Summer has been put on the back-burner. Blah.

But things are getting done! And that's all that matters. I don't feel useless! Though I do still feel like I have a desk job. Ug.

Happy Payday everyone!

Oh, is that just me? Well...

Happy Wednesday everyone!

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