Saturday, March 29, 2014


Some personal, some gathered from leaders we've met here, some collected from group reflection, some serious, some silly. I just never want to forget any of this.

--Teamwork and collaboration are valuable to process of creating change.
-- Leave with a plan, but don't be surprised or upset when EVERYTHING changes
--It's possible to actually work (as opposed to volunteer) in the world of social justice! And make money!
--Meet the need that's right outside your door.
--Harm reduction is more effective than moral righteousness. No judgement in service.
--I am not meant to wear jeans/have nice things (only halfway kidding)
-- We are all connected to each other, and the earth is connected to us.
--Take your time. If you need to take a breather, do so.
--Focusing on scarcities only goes so far. You have to also focus on the abundance all around you.
--Turtles are capable of some rather interesting sounds.
--You can't expect yourself to be perfect. Cut yourself some slack.
--A positive outlook will define your experience.
--If there is a need that you are able to fill, why wouldn't you?
--A little bit can go a long way. Don't underestimate.
--Don't drink "soda plum" unless you want to drink the ocean.
--It's so important to look where it is that you don't want to look, or have been conditioned not to.
--Sometimes, we all deserve a breath of fresh air.
--It's dangerous to make assumptions.
--Snails are fabulous racers.
--Compost may be smelly and made of you-know-what, but it makes things grow.
--Don't take food for granted.
--The solution is almost always more simple than you think.
--It's possible to be a real, functioning human at 6 in the morning!
--You have to make the best choices for yourself. Don't worry about others' opinions. It will always be worth it.

Please excuse the disjointed nature. There is still so much to process. All of my love to all of the other people on this trip, and everyone who made it possible. It may never be possible to explain exactly what it's meant to me.


Friday, March 28, 2014

Last Day of Service: Project Open Hand (Steven Beardsley)

Today was our last day of service, and we ended it with a bang. This morning we went to Project Open Hand, which is a nonprofit organization that provides nutritious meals to people experiencing illnesses such as HIV/Aids. They have up to 100 staff members in addition to thousands of volunteers that help out on a daily basis. We were introduced to the organization by Sarah who talked about what Project Open Hand does while establishing a safe and supportive environment for volunteers. We also met the Programs Coordinator, Andy, who assigned tasks and supervised our work in the grocery store. Andy was also very supportive and very encouraging. He spent a lot of time learning our names in addition to smiling at each of us and treating each of us as individuals.

We worked at Project Open Hand from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm, and we did a lot of work from doing crafts to stocking and reorganizing food. I worked primarily in the grocery store with Mackenzie restocking the milk and organizing the vegetables in the fridge. I also spent a lot of time working with Anne, Jen, Olivia, Taty, and Mandy reorganizing all of the crates of beans and wheat. It was a fun process, and we worked well together as a cohesive and efficient team. I really appreciated everyone's help, and I enjoyed working with people like Andy and Sarah who were very supportive and who understood that we were capable of making our own decisions when it came to getting tasks done. After volunteering at Project Open Hand, I realized that the organization provides very specific services to those who are sick and unable to go grocery shopping.

Though they fill a specific niche in the community, I think that they were also aware of other communities and creating a space where everyone can come and volunteer regardless of race, class, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, and other identities. For instance, we had an incident where some of us were engaging in a conversation with a white man on issues surrounding racial profiling and incarceration. Our group members, Olivia and Taylor, tried to counter the man's argument that policemen are trained "to be bias" and that it's their job to arrest people who present or look "suspicious." Instead of listening and cultivating an open discourse, he frequently interrupted them and deflected their arguments as too "emotional." Though this was a difficult situation, I was thankful that Sarah took the time to debrief about what happened. She let everyone involved tell their side of the story while treating us and the issue very seriously.

I think that our work at Project Open Hand highlights the importance of creating an atmosphere that is conducive to an organization's mission. I understand that Project Open Hand engages a variety of people, and I am thankful that they are open to this engagement but also intolerant of people who create negative/harmful atmospheres. Many of the organizations that we've visited also maintain this attitude. In addition to treating people with respect, many of the organization leaders have taken the time to know us as individuals; they've been very supportive and they've provided us with the tools we need to best help the communities they serve. I'm very thankful to have the opportunity to work with established organizations in San Francisco. I'm hoping to work with organizations in the future that maintain these attitudes and do their work because their is a genuine need for it. I'm sad to be leaving San Francisco, but I'm also glad that I can bring back all that I've learned from the group, organization leaders, and from members of the larger community of San Francisco.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Hellooooooo! Today was Castro Day. Got a private tour of the LGBT Center and learned about some of the amazing things that they do there. About 9,000 people come through the building every month! We learned about an office that helps find LGBT welcoming employment for people. The building hosts events all of the time from Yoga to LGBT Competency Trainings to youth meetings to soirees. After our visit, we continued our flyering for SFWAR. Then we went to the GLBT History Museum and Harvey Milk's old camera shop which is now Human Rights Campaign store. There is so much history in the Castro, it was exciting getting to be there. Our next stop was at LYRIC, this amazing youth advocacy organization that helps LGBT youth with pretty much everything under the sun and then some. Getting to talk to some of the people at LYRIC was eyeopening to the challenges LGBT youth are experiencing here in San Francisco. It is a wonderful program run by dedicated and passionate individuals. So much learning and experiencing has taken place today! Laters gators. Jennifer

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

It's already Wednesday?

We're over half way through this trip and so much has happened. I know we all say it, but it really is true.

The work at Free Farm today was no joke. Heavy lifting, shoveling compost, yanking weeds. We made a few snail friends, and I worked so hard I ripped my jeans! I loved it though, the tasks were so concrete and required a lot of teamwork. Many assembly lines were made. I think the principle behind those assembly lines is one of the things that's striking me most as I move through this trip. We have to work together if we ever want to see things change. Everyone can contribute something different and when all hands are on deck, things get done. As someone who is naturally independent, it's really beautiful to see the importance of collaboration. And we've seen it everywhere we've been. We divided the work and completed tasks as a team at Glide; we witnessed and helped with the work happening in the Women's Building, where a number of organizations dedicated to women's issues are housed and support each other. This group has bonded so much, and I have thoroughly enjoyed my time so far with all of them. They are all such interesting people. I have a lot of feelings.

After Free Farm, we were rather cold and damp (boo cold weather), so we took time to shower and visit the nearby laundromat. Then tacos! We had a fun reflection tonight, in which we made skits/interpretive dances/performance art about the activities of our day. Let's just say it got really "creative," and leave it at that. I had some great belly laughs. The humor opened us up, though, and some very thoughtful things were said. Not only am I learning from the organizations we spend time with, but also the people that I'm here with. The lessons they've taught me, of commitment and compassion, are invaluable.

A group of us headed to the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood after reflection. It was my second late-night adventure, after visiting the waterfront and seeing the Golden Gate Bridge last night. It's fun to navigate the city on our own and explore.

Overall, this is such a memorable and inspiring experience. It's hard to even put it in words.


Service Learning At Free Farm

Wow! I can't believe it's Wednesday already. Time does fly  by when you're having an adventure! Today, we went to the Free Farm and met the amazing man Tree. Tree runs the Free Farm in which he he gives his food away for free! Coming from someone who has a parent that gardens and sells veggies at our local Farmers' Market, I know how time consuming and tiring it can be to maintain a garden, therefore, I find it amazing and inspiring that he has the patience and mentality to keep this garden clean and full of produce to feed people he may not even know free of charge. After a day of service at Free Farm in the rain and sun I am content knowing that our work will have a long-term effect. 
- Emily Yang

Free Farm

March 26, 2014

Bliss Seeds

You are the growth of a seed
From your mother's womb 
Don't let no one out of your lead
Like spring flowers bloom

Reach high with the branches on the tree
Give humanities with dignity
Carry the realities with me
Forget the past and let's not be enemy

You are the growth of a seed
From your mother's womb 
Don't let no one out of your lead
Like spring flowers bloom


Today on our San Francisco Catalyst trip we went to a wonderful and delightful service at Free Farm. In my mind I thought continuously about a big acre of land filled with all sort of healthy vegetables, fruits, and fresh organic food. However, when we arrived to Free Farm it was actually a backyard garden filled with colors and fresh vegetables. The scene was colored with green and beautiful flowers lingering along side. Also just seeing the bamboo struck the moments of my grandmother and I going into the deep forest cutting down young bamboos to cook sweet bamboo rice stick.

Learning from Tree and his project of providing nutritious, healthy tips, and free food for the community bring in the connection of his passion and desire to give to those who cannot afford healthy food at a local store, and also his explanation about how food should be free because the discovery of the Earth, fruits, vegetables, and soil was given to us free as human beings.

Tree is actually not a tree, but he is the director of Free Farm. He has been providing service in his community ever since the early  1970's, but his project did not start until the year of 2008. Tree and his friends have also provided shelter for those who needs a place to stay and sleep. Tree's new project is to begin and expand more of his Free Farm in San Francisco.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


What a trip this has been so far! 

There are so many things to talk about it is hard to pin point only a couple of things to share!

Nina & Greta
On Sunday night we had two amazing visitors come to the hostel, Nina and her partner Greta, who shared their experiences as trans women in San Francisco. We all learned so much from them! One thing that Nina shared with us is something called the "Gay panic defense" which is a legal defense for perpetrators of assault against an individual identifying as a member in the LGBTQIA community. One may claim "temporary insanity" because of a so called condition called the "homosexual panic" or "trans panic" which caused one to act violently towards another. It is up to the judge, who are often conservative, white, male, and older, to decide if such a claim is valid. Yes. This exists. 

One question that was asked was how someone who identifies as cis-gender (identifying with the sex given at birth) can be an ally to someone who identifies as transgender. Greta and Nina both spoke about the importance of recognizing someone's experience and identity as valid is a big first step!

On Monday and today we worked at GLIDE. Overall, GLIDE was an amazing experience. It was fast paced work, but we all fed so many people! On Monday, we had our orientation with the organization; we learned about GLIDE's ideology of never turning away someone who comes to their door. No one has to prove they are hungry, everyone gets a meal. After learning this on the first day of work there, the second day was an even more impactful experience because we were apart of something that was doing so much good for the community. 

We also went to the Women's Building yesterday and today. However, on Monday we worked with SFWAR and today we worked with the Resource Center. While we fliered yesterday, today we helped decorate for their open house as well as serve all the guests who came through the doors! It was a very busy time and a very intense task for the introverts of the trip.

We ended the day with a reflection that allowed us to write in our journals. 

More Soon,