Sustainability Studies Intern
These practices are vital to become a successful sustainability advocate. The first and most important thing is to become credible and stay credible. People can tell pretty quickly if you know what you’re doing/talking about, or not. We all know that person who is spouting facts about every conversation you have around them, most of the time you can tell what they are saying is made up. Same goes for sustainability, if you don’t know what you’re talking about, people will be able to tell. So become knowledgeable and stay knowledgeable! Scientists learn new things every day. The world is ever changing so keep up with current events/technologies in your field! As for my internship, I have learned many things, but I still learn more every day.
Some days I am bombarded with so much information it doesn’t sink in. This is why we
constantly talk about the plants and refer back to books as references. I feel the books we use as reference are part of the “measure twice, cut once” philosophy in construction. We want to double check that our plant needs to have X amount of room around it. We make sure that this plant will thrive next to that plant instead of them harming each other. Gardening is a science and references are always helpful! Wes, the caretaker at Hannah and Friends, has a book I am planning on purchasing all about companion planting called, “Carrots Love Tomatoes” by Louise Riotte. This book has been an excellent reference and if you are interested in companion planting I would recommend it!
As for dialogue, Jan, the founder of Green Bridge Growers, has an excellent dialogue with the shops she frequents for supplies, as well as with other gardeners and sustainability experts in the city. She is hosting South Bend Green Drinks next month at the Skywalk and I am hoping to attend my first Green Drinks so I can network as well as helping her out with the event.
We also love spending time with the Hannah and Friends day program teaching them what we are learning. I have mentioned in the past my conversation with Tim, a Hannah and Friends day program client, about tomatoes. The other day in the greenhouse he mentioned he didn’t like them again. We got back into our conversation of all the products made with tomatoes, which is an open dialog, since Tim tends to forget that he does enjoy tomato products. He may just need a little memory boost.
Collaborating is a huge part of my internship. Hannah and Friends collaborated with Green Bridge Growers to get the greenhouse built, and Green Bridge Growers is collaborating with the city to plant herbs in the skywalk, as well as restaurants which the herbs will be sold to.
I have a special story for “meet them where they are”. Last week the strawberries in the
raised beds at Hannah and Friends were ripe and ready to be picked. Jan set up a get together with the day program to have strawberries and whipped cream as a snack. When Jan returned with the whipped cream, which ended up being ice cream, she discovered that someone had gone to the store and bought strawberries and other fruits. So Jan and I encouraged day program participants to pick and eat our strawberries and didn’t discourage the workers at the day program for buying fruit. Instead we took the opportunity to ask the day program participants if our strawberries tasted better than store bought strawberries! We turned this mishap into a learning experience. Some people are just not in the mind set to eat food grown on the land, instead we worked with the program participants who were interested and we didn’t force the strawberries on those who were not ready. Although they missed out on some tasty strawberries!
Piggy backing existing initiatives is done constantly in the greenhouse. We educate the
Hannah and Friends day program about planting while getting planting done. We grow herbs such as basil because it is in high demand, and it helps us see if the soil is lacking in nutrients. Many of the plants grown in the greenhouse benefit Hannah and Friends as well as the Skywalk project, and just today I saw Green Bridge Growers is now going to be a part of the Granger Farmers Market. So projects for all three may be overlapping soon. I feel companion planting is part of this as well. We plant the plants to grow for food but we also plant them strategically to benefit one another.
Influencing the influencers is more of what Jan has done. She orchestrated this whole
business doing so. I have not really tried to influence anyone since I am a beginner. This would be a weakness of mine.
Jan has also practiced “planful opportunism”. She has had many news reporters contact her about her business since it does benefit those with Autism. She had two different reporters come in and interview her and take video of the greenhouse. She needs this exposure to help her business grow. She is a business savvy woman who works from sun up to sun down, and is a mother and wife on top of everything else.
She is truly an inspiration.