Sunday, May 6, 2012

Field Trip!

Last Thursday all of us apprentices got to take our first field trip.  First, an overview: the ten of us students traveled to the Edible Schoolyard Project in Berkeley under the guidance of environmental crusader, Wendy Johnson.  After a quick detour to the Monterey Market for some treats we headed over to Alameda island to check out the Alameda Point Collaborative.  

As many people know, the Edible Schoolyard Project is an effort started in part by Alice Waters, a prominent chef in the Bay Area.  The project takes on the challenge of engaging children on a journey that hopefully brings them into a better understanding of earth ecology and the human relationship to everything that grows.  There is also a school lunch initiative that is an effort to extend what is preached when working with the land.  Children are fed organic, healthful food that is prepared fresh daily.  The lunch was delish!  Pulled turkey sandwich and a salad from the salad bar.

The Alameda Point Collaborative is an amazing social justice force in the East Bay.  They are on an old naval base and are trying to address some of the deep-rooted problems surrounding homelessness.  Transition and long-term housing is available along with case management and a variety of skill-based learning classes.  There is an urban farm there that started in order to provide an oasis of fruits and veggies in an otherwise food deserted area.  It is a one man show on this amazing farm. They have chickens, an aquaponic system, compost and more.

We spent this day, all of us together, really examining what social justice and environmental health have to do with each other and where our Zen practice fits in.  What does sitting meditation every day have to do with saving the world?  What good does it do to live in paradise (Green Gulch Farm) when much of the world lives in desperate conditions?  I have some thoughts about this and we had some really great discussion but the bottom line is that it is different for everyone.  We never know what the consequences of our actions will be and we really have no idea what will "help" others but our Zen practice at least helps us work from a place of love and witness what we see with our eyes open.    

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