Wow, it’s been waaay too long since I shared an update on all the amazing things happening here at The Growing Peace Project. Here are some highlights from 2019, our Year of Partnership:
During our summer youth activism retreat students from partner school AD Lawton Intermediate in Essex Junction, VT, organized and held our very first youth-led community event, a Unity Potluck Lunch complete with icebreakers, tabletop discussions, and a community art project that will travel around the area to showcase kids’ commitment to peace and justice.
ADL has returned for a second year and is currently collaborating with Lawton Alternative School in San Francisco, CA. Yes, they share the same name – it was meant to be! In addition to their personal connections through pen pal letters both schools are exploring their communities through the lens of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Soon they’ll be choosing community issues to address together. We’re very excited to see where their efforts land!
This past spring we held a Volunteer Work Day at our free food teaching garden. 30 kids and adults from two schools and the surrounding community spent the day building ten new raised beds and getting the garden prepped for the growing season. We’re extremely grateful for the community spirit that made this day such a success!
In August we joined the Upper Valley Community Collaborative, a group formed to share resources around healthcare. Currently we’re working on food insecurity in our region and we’re creating a local resource guide on area food shelves, community gardens, and the like. We’ve also just joined the Hunger Council of the Upper Valley, hosted by Hunger Free Vermont.
The UVCC collaboration led us to partner directly with Little Rivers Health Care. We delivered produce from our garden to health clinics, which staff then distributed to families. We also held a food giveaway co-sponsored by LRHC. In all, several hundred pounds of produce went to families in need. We’re now working with LRHC and Copeland Furniture on a similar project to distribute firewood to those who need it.
In October we were the recipients of a benefit concert at opening night of the Corinth Coffeehouse, with entertainment donated by music group Fifth Business. Lots of fun for a good cause!
Earlier this month we tabled and presented at the VT 4H Youth Environmental Summit, where 60 kids from all over Vermont signed up for my action planning workshop. Way to go, youth activists!
Other tabling events this year include VT Foodbank’s Hunger Action Conference, Whaleback Mountain’s Opening Celebration, and Space on Main’s Artisan Markets. The Market led us to connect with the Northeast Kingdom Artisans Guild, which will display and sell our photo notecards designed by kids participating in our youth activism retreats.
Also this year we were invited to take the lead on organizing The Giving Fair, an alternative annual holiday market designed to showcase the good works of area nonprofits. We’re holding that event on December 7 at Oxbow High School in Bradford, VT, where a few kids from our ADL partnership school will be assisting throughout the day.
And finally, we’re proud to announce that we were one of only a handful of organizations chosen by Vital Communities of the Upper Valley to participate in a crowd funding campaign through The Local Crowd platform. Our soft launch a few days ago resulted in raising over half of our $5,000 goal. Our full launch is happening in the next 24 hours, so stay tuned for more! We have some great rewards generously donated by area businesses.
Phew! So much activity, so much goodwill showered on us. It’s inspiring to collaborate with such great community partners. And to see kids taking a stand for peace and justice in our world… well, it just doesn’t get any better than that.