By: Marissa Donohue, CitySprouts Summer Fellow
Everyone talks about growing up. This summer, I want to grow down. That is, I want to reconnect with my roots in childhood, inquiry, and natural curiosity. I want to reach deep, deep into the nutrients of the soil and bring them up to the surface; turning my ideas about environmental education into vibrant flowers, fresh leaves, and veggies – maybe even okra, my personal favorite! I am ecstatic to soon join the CitySprouts team as a Summer Fellow at the Vassal Lane Upper School, where I will get to spend every day with middle schoolers to bring these nutrient building-blocks to fruition. Together, we will create fresh ideas (and fresh food).
A few weeks ago, in late May, I helped out at a CitySprouts volunteer day at the Higginson Lewis School. The weeds we were clearing were stubborn, but the wonderful staff and other volunteers were even stronger and more determined. Yet the most exciting part of the day was a brief few minutes when a teacher brought a class out to the garden steps in order to calm and organize the students. Some students immediately asked me about what I was doing, and the big question: “Why?”. As they questioned my rationale behind uprooting weeds, and even determining what qualified as a weed, I was revitalized with the fresh perspective and curiosity they brought. To make the good interaction even better, all of the students were wearing bright green shirts for a celebration of renewable energy, and I got to be the audience to many overlapping explanations of what renewable energy is and why it’s good. The definition revolved around plants, how they harvest energy from the sun, and how humans would benefit from being more like plants in that regard.
I can’t wait to be a plant this summer, and use the nutrients around my roots and leaves to grow up, down, and in all directions as I turn environmental education theory that I have learned in class at Tufts University into renewable, clean energy for my CitySprouts community!