It was Easter weekend, specifically a balmy sun soaked Saturday in Sampson park. We entered with the creative determination, associated with the AFSC intern experience, to have a great time with the youth and foster positive vibrations with other booths on such a celebratory day. Within due time our respective tables spilled over with youth drawn to the assortment of colorful options presented to them, many finding attraction to the “Call me Queen” and “Call me King” stencils. Now admittedly it would have been great to have a more official set up beyond the use of a park table and one other fold out table. Also, it would have been great to have a more central role in the festivities. However, the overall engagement was about fostering community connection, family, peace, love and happiness-- all things that we support individually and that together encourage nonviolence as a way of life and conflict resolution.
Personally, in the general sense, I had an enjoyable time hanging with park attendees and working alongside my fellow interns. But I realize that I could have been more invested in the proceedings if I had constructed an activity for the youth myself instead of being back up for others. But as I mentioned above it felt as if we were squeezed in pretty tight with not of room to wiggle. Speaking of happy movements, there were many people running, playing basketball and dancing-- all good things to get your heart pumping and muscles working. But such enthusiasm made me contemplate the candy coated nature of this holy yet commercialized holiday. What I instead of processed sweets we (both AFSC and other contributors) distributed fruits in order to encourage healthier more nutrient rich dietary habits. Though I know such a task would be more expensive due to the way certain agricultural products are subsidized by the government or not which calls into question the really that living in a food desert is an institutionalized form of violence against certain parts of the city and the inhabitants in those areas. As the local New Orleans artist Ra Yoseph King Supreme says, “Your health is your wealth”.
Therefore, I believe that doing a comprehensive food map of the 9th ward and the surroundings wards (if not the entire city) showing locations that sell food items and what they generally carry would be a valuable tool. On top of that t would provide clear visuals to organize around in order to build the voices of the community into an even stronger unified front to ask for better options closer to home. In a larger scale project it could also be used to push for the building of community farm(s), a farmers market and/or a well stocked grocery store. Now these options may already be available, but if not there's certainly a powerful vision to be realized in their construction.