It’s hard to describe how it feels to be wrapping up my service as an AmeriCorps VISTA at HIP. This past year has been incredible, and I’m honestly very sad to leave. The folks who work in this field are of the highest quality, and the people of Lake City are unparalleled in their passion and personality. Moving back to an American city from a small Beninese village, I had forgotten what it was like to be part of a community, to walk down the street and know people’s names. But coming to this northern pocket of Seattle has reminded me that community can exist anywhere – especially when you fight for it.
That’s something which has impressed me about the people who work with HIP, whether that be staff, volunteers, or community partners. Together we have identified a need, and together we are working to fill it. But more than filling it, we are fighting to make sure that need no longer exists. We do this through classes, workshops, and advocacy, but most importantly, we do it through collective action. This is where the work of food security meets the the work of food justice. It is great to volunteer, to donate, to buy local, to recycle and compost. But it is not enough.
We need to be more than our individual efforts. As volunteer coordinator for HIP, I have met some pretty outstanding individuals. Lake City is one of Seattle’s most culturally and economically diverse neighborhoods, and I get to see all this diversity collide within our programs. Community events, meal programs, packing parties, cooking classes – you name it, people show up. And there’s power in that. Imagine how much power there would be if everyone not only showed up, but got organized. There are already coalitions in place to fight hunger, initiatives in place to talk to policymakers, and networks in place to communicate needs to community members. It’s a matter of tapping into them and then expanding them. It can be daunting to know where to begin (perhaps this could be a good starting point, or the books Big Hunger and The New Food Activism), but a train once started is hard to stop. And I couldn’t imagine better co-riders.
It has been an honor serving with you all. Until we meet again!
All my love,