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Meet Our Student Community Garden Coordinators!

The Medtronic Foundation Community Garden at Augsburg University is in full swing, despite a slow start as we navigated how to safely grow food together through COVID-19. Our student workers have been invaluable in helping prepare gardens for planting – both their own communal student plot and plots for some neighbors who needed support – and in making sure health and safety measures like washing shared tools are happening regularly. The garden gathers an inter-generational, intercultural group of neighbors each year, and our student workers have been an invaluable part of making this space available this summer!

Tulela Nashandi woman in a blue shirt smiling in a selfie

woman in red shirt leanign into a storage bench with signs sitting on top of the neighboring bench(She/her/hers)

Senior Biology major

Where are you from?

  • I was born and raised in Namibia.

What have you learned in the garden so far?

  • I have learned that having a green thumb is more than just natural talent, a lot of research goes into the success of gardening.

What has been challenging or surprising?

  • The most challenging part has been figuring out what plants that grew from previous years were food or weeds.

What do you wish more people at Augsburg knew about the garden?

  • I wish more people knew how relaxing and rewarding it is. You really feel like you are part of a community that is doing something really cool. Yep that’s it I wish people knew plants are cool 🙂 It is amazing to see how beautiful some of the gardens look so organized and full of produce.

Soyome Moyawoman in jean vest standing in a vegetable garen holding a trellis and smiling

(She/her/hers)

Biology, Class of 2020

Where are you from?

  • Oromia/Ethiopia

What have you learned in the garden so far?

  • I have learned about the importance of gardening for your mental health. It is a great way to meditate and appreciate nature.

What has been challenging or surprising?

  • The most challenging part of gardening is the work that has to be done during the planting season.

What do you wish more people at Augsburg knew about the garden?

  • The garden is a great place to come together as a community and build relationships.

Francesca Saviowoman with long black hair standing in front of a tall cathedral

(She/her/hers)

First-year Biology major and Chemistry minor

Where are you from?

  • I’m from Italy

What have you learned in the garden so far?

  • I have learned that spending time growing new plants helps me relax and connect with nature.

What has been challenging or surprising?

  • The most challenging part is to learn how to distinguish the different types of plants from the weeds.

What do you wish more people at Augsburg knew about the garden?

  • I wish more people knew how rewarding it is to see grow plants and have the opportunity to eat something that you harvested. I also wish people knew how good of an opportunity is to spend time in a garden together connecting not only with nature but also with the community.

Reyna Lopezwoman with a blonde ponytail and blue shirt taking a selfie

(She/her/hers)

Sophomore, Double major: Psychology, and Marketing; minor: Creative Writing

Where are you from?

  • Saint Paul MN

What have you learned in the garden so far?

  • Patience is key. Things take time, work, and effort.

What has been challenging or surprising?

  • Nothing

What do you wish more people at Augsburg knew about the garden?

  • That anyone can do it, it a resource for many here at Augsburg, and for the community surrounding Augsburg.

 

Cultivating Community: Augsburg’s Community Garden

Ten people in diverse garb sit on the edges of raised garden beds or at tables. Some are eating food, others are looking ahead with attentive gazes.
Gardeners gather for a meal and storytelling event in the garden.

Gazing out the west-facing upper windows of the Hagfors Center on Augsburg’s campus, you can’t miss benches, paths, and raised beds of Augsburg’s community garden. While the garden on the edge of campus has been cultivated since 2008, when the plans for the Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion got underway, there was a distinct opportunity to preserve and re-imagine this unique community garden space. With support from the Medtronic Community Foundation, design guidance from O2 Design, and community-based input, the garden was rebuilt to make the space more accessible, inclusive, and visible. 

Throughout the design process for the new garden space, gardeners and Augsburg staff centered the enduring principles and goals for this vital community connection space: grow food, build relationships, and learn together. Two young people converse while sitting on the edge of a raised bed in the garden.The garden now has wider and defined pathways, clear plot boundaries, and a variety of raised and in-ground beds. 

The re-designed garden just finished its second season of production. With over sixty individual plots and communal growing space cultivated by residents of Cedar-Riverside and Augsburg staff, faculty, and students, the newly rebuilt garden is continuing to offer a place for learning and building community. 

About half of the members of Augsburg’s community garden are neighbors in Cedar-Riverside and Seward (six have a view of the garden from their homes across the street!), and about half are Augsburg staff, faculty, and students. Student groups, such as Hmong Women Together and the Augsburg Indigenous Student Association, tend portions of the communal gardening areas, and about ten students from TRIO Summer Bridge spent time learning in the garden over the 2019 growing season.

Individual gardeners are not the only people to utilize the garden; this fall, several professors teaching classes focused on food and sustainability are also capitalizing on the presence of the garden. From a history of food class, to a course on environmental connections to food, a chemistry AugSem, and a science of food and cooking class: the garden has increasingly become a laboratory for classroom learning on wide-ranging subjects related to growing and consuming food. Other classes utilize the garden in less formal ways, perhaps holding a class outside by The Loveliest of Trees, or sending students out for discussion as they walk the garden paths.

Natalie Jacobson and Allyson Green enjoy conversation in the garden. Another individual is in the foreground wearing a red backpack, their back turned to the camera.
Campus Kitchen Coordinator Natalie Jacobson (left) and Chief Sustainability Officer Allyson Green (right) enjoy conversation at a garden event.

During the summer and fall of 2019, the garden began to utilize the Food Lab space in the Hagfors Center for potlucks and food preparation. Chief Sustainability Officer Allyson Green, who oversees the garden, remarked that the first session of gardeners gathering in the food lab over the summer was the highlight of the season; people got to know one another and shared cooking techniques and conversation as they made sambusas. This season also saw a student-led storytelling event in partnership with Mixed Blood Theater and food activist, LaDonna Redmond. As gardeners and others are living into the new space, opportunities for connecting and learning with and from each other are growing alongside the vegetables. 

One challenge with the garden rebuild was impacted soil in the in-ground beds due to construction equipment. After the garden was initially built, gardeners were having a difficult time cultivating healthy root systems for their plants, requiring that all of the in-ground beds be dug up and the soil turned. Thankfully, dozens of students, several classes, and a few athletic teams answered the call, picking up shovels and making quick work of the beds that required turning.

When asked about how the garden fits into the overall sustainability commitments of Augsburg, Allyson noted that the garden is a visible demonstration of Augsburg’s commitment to caring for the place where Augsburg is located. By tending to our natural environment and building a place for community building, food access, and learning, the garden is an important aspect of Augsburg’s place-based and anchor institution work. 

An aerial view of the Augsburg Community Garden. A table in the foreground has food on it, and people are lining up to serve themselves.Allyson also noted her hopes for the garden. With twenty-five people on the waiting list, she hopes that the garden can continue to be a vital place on-campus for learning and relationship building that contributes to the well-being of the whole community. She dreams that the garden might be a model for cooperation and learning that can spread to other areas of campus, and even to other communities! 

As a space that requires the cooperation of dozens of people who all have different ideas about ways of growing food, habits of organization and storage, and different cultures, personalities, and life stories, the garden is a unique place for experimentation, building community amongst difference, and finding a middle ground. Here’s to a successful growing season and many more to come!

Place-Based Justice Network Summer Institute Highlights

Three people sit on stage as a panel, while an audience sits at round tables listening.
Panel discussion with Avi Viswanathan of Nexus Community Engagement Institute and Tyler Sit of New City Church.

On July 10-12, 2019, the Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship at Augsburg University hosted the Place-Based Justice Network for its annual Summer Institute. 

The gathering is an essential learning and networking opportunity for the Place-Based Justice Network, a group of twenty member institutions that are committed to transforming higher education and our communities by deconstructing systems of oppression through place-based community engagement with a racial justice lens.

Place-based community engagement is a focused approach to university-community engagement that emphasizes long-term, university-wide engagement in community partnerships in a clearly defined geographic area, and focuses equally on campus and community impact. Engaging with stakeholders from across the university and neighborhood community, a place-based approach aims to enact real and meaningful social change through partnership and co-creative work.

While the PBJN has held annual Summer Institutes since 2014, 2019 marks only the second year that the Summer Institute has taken place at an institution other than Seattle University. In 2018, the Summer Institute was held at Loyola University Baltimore, and in 2019, it was held at Augsburg University.

The two-and-a-half-day conference was packed with opportunities for learning and networking with local and national leaders and scholars in place-based community engagement. Some highlights included:

  • Welcoming remarks by Augsburg President Paul Pribbenow, and an introduction to Minneapolis and Cedar-Riverside with Jaylani Hussein, Executive Director of CAIR-MN.
  • Keynote address with Dr. Tania Mitchell, Associate Professor of Higher Education at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Mitchell’s scholarship focuses on service-learning as a critical pedagogy to explore civic identity, social justice, student learning, race and racism, and community practice.
  • “Nothing About Us, Without Us, is For Us,” a panel discussion with Avi Viswanathan of Nexus Community Engagement Institute and Tyler Sit of New City Church, moderated by Rachel Svanoe Moynihan of the Sabo Center.
  • Site visits to community partners in Cedar-Riverside, including Sisterhood Boutique, the Cedar Cultural Center, Brian Coyle Community Center, and Health Commons.
  • Workshops with presenters from participants on topics ranging from community voice, local purchasing and hiring, school-university partnerships, and more!
  • Racial healing discussions and group circles.
  • A wonderful evening reception sponsored by the McKnight Foundation.

The Institute was a rich opportunity for learning and connecting with our colleagues from across the country. Some of the Augsburg team’s takeaways included:

  • The importance of centering community voice. This work takes constant attentiveness and intention.
  • Every institution is in a different place with this work–and that’s ok! There is so much to learn from where different universities and communities are in the partnership building process, and all of the successes and failures they’ve experienced. Learning from our colleagues from across the country has allowed us in the Sabo Center to view our place-based work in Cedar-Riverside with fresh eyes.

Interested in learning more about Augsburg’s place-based community engagement? Visit the Engaging Community page on the Sabo Center website, and contact us to learn more.

Special thanks to the McKnight Foundation for their support.

 

 

 

Place-Based Justice Network Summer Institute 2019: Augsburg to Host and Call for Proposals

Place-based Justice Network logo

The Sabo Center is excited to announce that Augsburg University will be hosting the sixth annual Place-Based Justice Network Summer Institute in July 2019. The three-day gathering is an essential learning and networking opportunity for the Place-Based Justice Network, a group of twenty member institutions that are committed to transforming higher education and our communities by deconstructing systems of oppression through place-based community engagement with a racial justice lens.

Place-based community engagement is a focused approach to university community engagement that emphasizes long-term, university-wide engagement in community partnerships in a clearly defined geographic area, and focuses equally on-campus and community impact. Engaging with stakeholders from across the university and neighborhood community, a place-based approach aims to enact real and meaningful social change through partnership and co-creative work.

The Summer Institute will consist of plenary lectures and workshops, keynote speakers, site visits to organizations connected to Augsburg, and opportunities to learn from practitioners of place-based community engagement from across the country.

The PBJN has released a call for proposals for workshops and breakout sessions during the Summer Institute. They seek proposals for sessions that center dialogue and interactivity on topics related to place-based community engagement initiatives and their planning, development, programs, evaluation, and impact. Potential topics for breakout sessions include, but are not limited to:

Scholar-activism and community-based research: examples and lessons learned

  • Relationship-building and decentralized decision making
  • Sustaining long-term commitments with neighborhoods and communities
  • Critical scholarship on community engagement including racial justice, economic justice, education justice, disability justice, queer, and feminist theory and practices
  • Lessons from community organizing
  • Asset-based community development
  • Power analysis and community voice
  • Anti-racist storytelling strategies
  • Preparing students to enter and transition out of place-based community engagement

Breakout session proposals are due Monday, May 13th, 2019 at 5 pm PST.

Interested in participating? Contact the Sabo Center for more information about how to attend the Summer Institute and submit a proposal for a breakout session (sabocenter@augsburg.edu)

Sisterhood Boutique to Hold Fashion Show at Augsburg

Sisterhood Boutique is a small thrift store with a big heart.Sisterhood Boutique storefront

Located across the street from the Augsburg University campus, the Sisterhood Boutique stands as a symbol of empowerment for women. Started by young women who lived in Cedar-Riverside, the Sisterhood is described by shoppers as the “hidden gem” of the West Bank neighborhood. Donated clothing and jewelry is sold in a polished retail space, with all sales go towards a leadership program designed to help young women prepare for a career. The program includes various paid internships at the boutique where interns learn the skill sets necessary to run a business and become an entrepreneur. Augsburg students in the Sabo Center’s LEAD Fellows program have also worked at the Sisterhood.

One of the main events at the Sisterhood Boutique is their annual pop up fashion show. It is a collaborative, student-run event. Augsburg students, along with students from the U of M and St. Kate’s come together to coordinate the venue, models, and decorations, and to design the outfits. In the past, all items at the show were donated or altered by a fashion class at St. Kate’s. This year’s fashion show is coming up soon on Tuesday, March 5th, 2019, at the Augsburg University Hoversten Chapel, located in Foss Center. Doors open at 6, and the show begins at 7. Everyone is welcome, and the event is free of charge. Attendees are encouraged to bring along gently used clothing items to donate to the Sisterhood!

Learn more about the event by visiting the Sisterhood’s Facebook event page: Sisterhood Fashion Show

What does community-based learning look like?

Community-based learning is a form of experiential learning directly connects students with the broader community and neighborhoods of which Augsburg is a part. Individual students and whole classes connect to community organizations through various means, including field trips, guest speakers, research, service learning, and public impact projects. These deliberately chosen experiences are guided by principles of mutual benefit for students and the community, are designed collaboratively with campus and community partners, and are based in deep and ongoing relationships with individuals and community groups. All community-based learning requires students to engage in meaningful reflection on their experiences.

 

Field Trips

A professor may plan a field trip for her course to a local organization or site so that students can experience first hand a context that might be referenced in class. Such a trip may offer opportunities to host discussions with local experts, understand an applied context, and to stimulate questions that may not otherwise occur to students in the classroom setting.

Examples

Religion classes tour houses of worship of different faith traditions, with tours conducted by practitioners of those traditions, some of which are in the Cedar-Riverside Neighborhood nearby to campus. These visits are followed by in-class discussion and a comparative reflection paper that prompts students to reflect on the visit as well the connection between visit themes and their own experience.

Students from a food science class visit a nearby beekeeping company who keep urban hives to learn about the science of honey production and about the economy of urban farming.

Guest Speakers

Guests from the local community may visit a relevant class session to share their experience and insight and engage in discussion with students.

Example

An organizer from a local labor rights organization visits a history class focused on 20th-century American labor rights movements.

Research

Research that is conducted as a partnership between traditionally trained “experts” and members of the community for the benefit of both.

Example

A group of students in a business course collaborate closely with a local youth social enterprise to do market research and develop a marketing plan. While the social enterprise ends up with a functional marketing plan that they can now implement, the students have learned applied skills for research and developing an end-product for a customer’s use while building connections with a community-based organization with connections to Augsburg and significant local impact.

Service Learning

Sometimes used interchangeably with community-based learning, service learning is a specific kind of learning activity in which students participate in and reflect on a service-oriented activity in the community. This may be a one-time “service project” experience, but more commonly involves ongoing involvement by the student in a community organization over the course of a semester (usually at least 20 hours). The activity is directly related to course content, and benefits the community.

Example

As part of the class, a student in an Social Work 100 class signs up to regularly serve meals to the after school program at Brian Coyle Community Center with the Campus Kitchen program.

Public Impact Project

Public impact projects are sustained experiences that integrate meaningful public engagement that is mutually beneficial to students and the community. Instruction and reflection in a community context enriches course content, teaches civic responsibility, builds community capacity and relationships, and often connects to university-wide community engagement initiatives.

Example

Students from Design+Agency, Augsburg’s embedded design studio, create design solutions for a variety of local non-profits and civic projects.

Interfaith Scholars collaborate with community members to put together monthly interfaith gatherings in the Cedar Commons space.

Guiding Principles for Community-Based Learning

Whether you are planning a field trip, guest speaker, research, service-learning, or a public impact project, there are certain elements and factors to consider and incorporate. All community-based learning, from activity to long-term project, requires careful planning, connection to course objectives, collaboration with the community partner to identify need, intended impact, and responsibilities, as well as opportunities for quality reflection.

 

When planning for community-based learning, be sure to consider the following:

Consider Impact

Think about all facets of impact. For example, if you are taking your students to a community space–what do they need to know about the space beforehand to be respectful of the people there and the space itself? When asking an individual to come speak with your class, is there a way for the class to thank the presenter? 

Community Partners are Co-Creators

Ensure that the activity or shared work has mutually beneficial outcomes for your students and the community or organization. Especially when planning longer term projects or research in a community-based context, the outcomes of the work should have value beyond student learning, and the need and intended product should be identified in conversation with the community partner. Collaborate with the community partner–whether that is an organization, business, etc–as a co-creator of the course design, learning outcomes, and/or research goals.

Engage in Relationship

Engage based upon relationship. Build on existing university connections (there are many–be in touch with us in the Sabo Center to learn more!), or use your own connections. For the sake of students, vet the organizations or people they may be working with. Establish a trusting relationship with a community group or organization before expecting a student to contribute time and energy.

Clear Parameters

Be sure to establish clear parameters for students about the connection between the community-based learning and the course’s educational goals, objectives, and learning outcomes. Offer clear guidance about what is to be accomplished and learned, and emphasize the student’s responsibility and the reality of the impact their actions might have.

Prepare

Prep students for what to expect and what is expected of them in the context of a community-based learning opportunity, whether that is a field trip or a long term project. Engage in reflection with students before the activity or project–what do they expect to learn? What do they want to learn? What are some things they think they know from the jump? Have students attend a scheduled community-based learning orientation with the Sabo Center, or coordinate with the Sabo Center to bring someone to do an orientation with your class.

Reflect

Quality reflection is essential for effective community-based learning, and for all experiential learning. Build in opportunities for structured and varied forms of reflection, and communicate clearly about how this reflection will be evaluated.

 

Want guidance for how to get started?  Contact Director of Community Engagement Mary Laurel True (truem@augsburg.edu).