SEEED: Growing the Garden through Community Engagement

Written by Taria Person

 

Welcome to SEEED’s Weekly Voice! For this week’s blog, I have interviewed Lauren Kataja, SEEED’s Community Garden Coordinator. The interview will highlight some of the gardening events that SEEED has hosted this year regarding healthy eating and gardening.

 

(Interview with Lauren Kataja)

Me: Okay, Lauren. Explain what the responsibilities are of a Community Garden Coordinator?

 

Lauren: Well, our main focus is to build a connection with the community through the garden. Raise awareness and build connections, so that people come to get local food. Half of it is growing food, and the other half is growing community.

 

Me: What events has SEEED hosted to engage the community in the garden?

 

Lauren: We’ve hosted two “People in the Garden Healthy Food Fairs.” We were able to provide plant-based food, information about plant-based diets, and for the one in the spring, we gave out plants and seeds.

 

Also, we’ve hosted the “Grow your Garden Series”; there have been two events, already. We were able to inform people about the difference between fall plants and summer plants. The next one is July 26th, where we will have a “weeding day”. Summer time is a great time for weeds to grow in the garden. We’ll be informing people about how to get rid of weeds in the gardens.

 

We’ve made connections with the District Attorney and Bank of America. We partnered with Knoxville’s Permaculture Guild, which has been a great way for volunteers to know what’s going on. And we were donated fruit trees!

 

Me: What is one of the biggest takeaways that you’ve experienced from being in your role?

 

Lauren: The general interest in learning is great. At one event, we setup stations with grains, nuts, and beans. Children were confident in their responses about what each food item was before them, and their parents were asking them how they knew. One child responded, “That’s couscous. I saw it at the store!”

 

There was a composting system. A guy pulled a worm out of fertilizer, and people were grossed out. By the end of it, they put it all to the side, so it was fun and interactive!

 

Thank you for Reading SEEED’s Weekly Voice. Please note that SEEED’s edible forest is a community garden, so come enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables, learn about growing your own food, and learn more about SEEED.

 

Please share, comment, and like the post. Until next time…keep growing!

 

Highlights from the Kuumba Festival

Written by Taria Person
Welcome to SEEED’s Weekly Voice! This week we will highlight a very prominent event that took place this past weekend–the annual Kuumba Festival. On the days of June 23rd-25th, vendor tents were vibrant colors and creative displays of African and African American art, jewelry, clothing, and the aroma of food– full of soul–throughout Market Square and Morningside Park.

(From an interview with Tor Ajanaku, one of the directors of the Kuumba Festival)

“‘Kuumba’ means ‘creativity’ in Swahili,” Tor Ajanaku explained. “There’s a disparity of African and African American culture in the Knoxville community, and we serve to fill the void. The festival acts as a vehicle to fill the void,” he continued. This festival has been an artistic and cultural festival since the year 1989. Preserving those foundations, this year’s theme for the Kuumba Festival was “Creative Power,” which was a consistent bellowed from the community and microphones throughout the middle of the city.

Tor Ajanaku is one of the directors for the Kuumba Festival.

I asked Mr. Ajanaku, “For people who couldn’t make it out, what would you say are some of the aspects that people missed out on this year?” He replied,
“What are some of the aspects people missed out on? They missed the memorial concert dedicated to my mom, the co-founder of Kuumba, Nkechi Ajanaku. They missed Kuumba Watoto Dance and Drum Village Extravaganza. They [the children’s dance and drum extravaganza] worked hard during camp and it showed…They missed new vendors. Man, they missed Kuumba, period. But there’s always next year!”
Tor Ajanaku expresses his final sentiments of the festival, “It was great! I’m happy people came with the rain, and even with the rain, the community’s support was amazing. We appreciate it!”

Along with Mr. Ajanaku, I was able to ask Jerome Johnson, co-founder of Socially Equal Energy Efficient Development (SEEED) and owner of Caribbean Soul, a few questions about the Kuumba Festival. Jerome Johnson began, “As one of the co-founders of SEEED it is was an honor to be a part of the Kuumba festival.  I think the community needs to show more support. It’s a perfect opportunity for people in the community to step up and get involved.”

The mission at SEEED is, “to create pathways out of poverty for young adults through career readiness training, while equipping communities with environmental literacy skills,” so I asked Jerome Johnson, “What would you say Caribbean Soul added to the festival that continues to uplift the mission of SEEED?”

Mr. Johnson replied:

Caribbean Soul is a real life example of how planting a seed in a fertile ground will become fruitful. It has definitely been a growing experience to be a part of the Kuumba Festival for the past four years. The first year I was very inexperienced, but the Kuumba family embraced me with open arms. Through all the obstacles, the family was always there to lend a helping hand. The Kuumba gives me the sense of how it feels for the community to actually be one family–where the elders guide and instruct the youth and in return the youth motivates and inspires the elders.

Jerome Johnson serves up delicious jerk chicken and ribs.

I continued with my questions, asking, “What is one of the greatest takeaways, you experienced from the Kuumba Festival?”

Jerome Johnson said:
It gives the chance for young entrepreneurs to market and get a real life business experience. It also provides a platform for young artist and entertainers to showcase their talents and crafts. With those types of opportunities it coincides with the SEEED mission and hands on engaging teaching style. Also, that we can live together in peace and harmony. It allows for the opportunity to embrace our culture in a positive way. We get a chance to celebrate our rich, diverse, bold and beautiful heritage, while reconnecting and learning about our roots. Bringing the good from the past to the present in order to preserves our future.
Thank you so much for reading. This is SEEED’s Weekly Voice. Until next time, keep growing!

Green Tie Event: Tonight is the Night!

Written by Taria Person
Welcome to SEEED’s Weekly Voice! Tonight, June 8th from 6-8PM, the students of the Career Readiness Program will cross the graduation stage beginning the next journey of their careers. During the event,  there will be entertainment from local artists Joshua Outsey, The Dixion Family, Taria Person: The Realest Person, and one of the soon to be graduates, Sean Brown a.k.a Rodman.
At the Green Tie Event, testimonies and highlights will be shared of the students engaging with people in Knoxville communities, food and beverages will be served, and a good time will be experienced, one that these young individuals will have as a lasting memory. Each student has worked hard via breaking the canvassing record this year, knocking on over 500 doors; now it’s time to celebrate their accomplishments! We really hope to see you there tonight!
Tickets are $30 in advance and $35 at the door. If you haven’t already purchased your ticket, go to seeedknox.com or call SEEED @ (865) 766-5185 to show your support for the continuous drive towards “creating pathways out of poverty for young adults.” Until next time, keep growing!

Knoxville! Come be Fly in your Green Tie!

Written by Taria Person
Welcome back to SEEED’s Weekly Voice! It’s almost time for this semesters Green Tie event–a graduation for young adults, ages 16-28 within SEEED’s Career Readiness Program. The event will be located at the Overcoming Believers Church, next Thursday June 8, 2017. We are extremely proud of the Spring Class of 2017. They assisted in a successful turnout for the Morningside Job fair, due to knocking on more than 500 doors.
Please help us congratulate our students, and celebrate the continuous journey of “creating pathways out of poverty” for these young and excellent individuals. There will be food and beverages, entertainment, and the rest, are you will have to witness front row and center! Tell everyone you know, we can’t wait to see you all. Until next time, keep growing!
WHAT’S HAPPENING NEXT
Green Tie Event
June 8, 2017 from 6:00-8:00PM
@ OBC located at 211 Harriet Tubman St, Knoxville, TN 37915

Career Readiness: Practicing Environmental Literacy

Written by Taria Person

This past Tuesday, I went to Concerts on the Square in Market Square, which was phenomenal by the way. While I was sitting, I saw an older gentleman carrying starter plant, so I said, “Oooh starter plants. What kind of plants are they?” His response was that they were tomato plants he was selling. I was in awe and extremely ecstatic to see another individual in Knoxville passionate about environmental literacy.

Soon after, the man was waltzing through the audience of people sharing more knowledge of what’s he had and why. It was a beautiful experience to witness! It had me wondering, how do we continue to share environmental literacy with our communities? What are our personal contributions to environmental literacy within our communities? Think about it and help out today. Until next time keep growing!

Career Readiness: What’s your Pathway out of Poverty?

Written by Taria Person

Welcome back to another week of SEEED’s Weekly Voice. This week we’re sharing a personal narrative from Career Readiness graduate, Taria Person. Comment and share your personal stories with us here at SEEED Knox!

When I was in the Career Readiness Program, a life changing statement came to me in the form of graffitied-etchings in the margins of my notebook. The repetitive bolded phrase was, “Start Today!” So there I am, chuckling to myself, during the Time Management class about consistent, active movement in my career.

Honestly, who is as passionate about your vision as you are? Nothing is impossible, but who sees your vision the way you see it? Who will do what it takes to make your dream tangible?

There are many facets of poverty–financial, spiritual, mental, physical, and many times it’s hard to work on one when others overlap.
For myself, it was a hard realization to face, but definitely a necessary one. A couple of months ago, I dwelled on my past and all that I’ve done, that should have me here and there, and the words came in an influx; however, Stan Johnson, Director of SEEED, asked me to do the Past | Present | Future exercise.

Stan had me write down everything that was holding me back from my past, the present, which was usually spent on what happened or what I wanted to happen, followed by the anxiety of not knowing what’s in the future.  I’m not perfect and none of us are, but we do have the power to reroute our journey, pause and pick back up where we left off. Go ahead and ask yourself right now, “What am I doing TODAY to find my pathways out of poverty?” Remember to Start Today! Until next time keep growing.

Career Readiness: Applying the Skills

Written by Taria Person
Last week, our group of passionate students within the Career Readiness Program, applied life and job skills at several community events. Some of those events were the Morningside Job Fair, canvassing for the job fair, People in the Garden: Healthy Food Fair, and a visit to Master Dry.
Thursday April 27, The Morningside Job Fair consisted of 16 companies and 140 job seekers. One company hired 45 people on the spot! Our CRP students used their experience while participating in this fair, and volunteering to ensure the success of the event.
Sunday April 30, we had the People in the Garden: Healthy Food Fair at SEEED Knox. People in the community enjoyed healthy food samples, cookbooks, saw our finished greenhouse, received seeds and plants, gardening literacy and learned about the mission of SEEED.
At Master Dry, the students were inspired by owner, Josh Smith’s words of inspiration, while touring the facility. Special thanks to Mr. Smith and Master Dry’s Community Ambassador, Kathryn Ann Holt, for hosting the event for our students.
If you missed the events from last week, don’t worry there will be more to come. Please comment and share your thoughts with us here at SEEED Knox.
Until next time, keep growing!

Morningside Job Fair at SEEED

Written by Taria Person 

This Thursday, Save our Sons and SEEED Knox will host the Morningside Job Fair, which several companies will attend. SEEED and Save our Sons have been dedicated to making sure that young individuals in the community of Knoxville have access to information and resources for a successful future.
Many of the Career Readiness students expressed their excitement about the job fair, and how it’s a great opportunity to showcase skills they have obtained from program. “I feel like I’m ready, because SEEED has equipped me with the resources”, Makaylen Roserie stated (2017 student of Career Readiness Program).
This event is open to the community, so we hope to see you there! The job fair will be April 27, 2017 at 6:00PM-8:00PM at 1617 Dandridge Ave, Knoxville, TN 37915.
The job fair will provide:
  • Hiring on the spot
  • Career opportunities
  • Jobs for ex-offenders
  • Background checks
  • Resume building
  • FREE pizza!
We can’t wait to see you all. Until next time, keep growing!

Healthy Food Comes to the Career Readiness Program

Written by Taria Person

This past Wednesday, Sarah Wharton, soil scientist and educator of healthy eating workshop, did a presentation and answered  the questions of many of our students. The students began to tell own stories related to food and health issues, or what they knew about the subject.
A slide from the continued presentation, read:
The Plant-Based Diet
  • Mostly whole plant foods, less  meat and dairy, and even processed foods
  • Prevents and reverses obesity, heart disease diabetes and cancer because plant foods have phytonutrients with major health power
  • Meat, dairy, and processed food have been shown to increase the rates of health problems and disease
She continued expressing various ways of incorporating plant-based diets into their lifestyles, and healthier options for preparation and cooking. The classroom was an aroma of sweet potato black bean burgers, veggies, and other fun, healthy snacks.
By the way, the burgers were incredible! Let us all thank Sarah Wharton for bringing this knowledge to our students and community. Until next time, keep growing!

Career Readiness: Tips on Organizing

SEEED’s Weekly voice – April 5, 2017

Career Readiness: Tips on Organizing
Written by Taria Person

Last week we discussed tips on résumé building, and how to look more appealing to an employer. This week we are delving into a few ways to get and maintain organization in our day to day lives. The skills that we will discuss are:

  • Creating a schedule
  • Time management
  • Communication
  • Being creative/having fun

Let’s get organized!

Schedule
Making a schedule for yourself is a great way to track what, when, where, why, and sometimes how, you are doing at specific times or periods throughout the day and week. It was stated from some CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, that If you break your schedule into 15 minute increments, it helps with productivity. Give it a try!

Time management
Sometimes it’s easy to find ourselves on Snapchat or Instagram, when we are supposed to get tasks done. I know about this, oh so well!

When getting organized and managing time, prioritizing our tasks and time is another important thing to consider. For instance, If you have eight hours and eight things on your to-do-list, prioritizing is a must.

Multitasking and setting realistic goals, are other aspects that ensure getting more things accomplished within the time we possess. It’s important to give adequate amount of time for our tasks, and to remain realistic, not to set ourselves up for failure.

Communication
This one may look out of place, but think about it…if you do not communicate your schedule with your employer or family, what will happen?

It is important to communicate effectively to develop the skills of organization, creating schedules, and time management. Remember, they all work together!

Be creative
This process does not have to be boring. When getting organized there are many ways to make the experience creative and/or fun.

  • Color coordination
  • Fonts
  • Decorative filing

Think about your style and get organized!

Until next time, keep growing.