Monday, January 9, 2012

My Journey Since My Departure

Since departing from my accounting position at CITGO Petroleum I have had the opportunity to embark on many different endeavors. I have taught a couple of gardening classes, traveled at will (both business and leisure), installed a garden at a middle school, formulated and helped organize a community garden program in Florida, devised a community garden plan for an independent Philadelphia mayoral candidate, expanded my own gardening program, and have come within 12 hours of attaining my masters degree. Some of these projects were paid jobs; others were purely volunteer work, paid only with a great amount of satisfaction for my soul.

Immediately following the end of my corporate position I was a part of a summer camp program at Key Middle School. This was the first gardening class I taught. As a part of the program and with the help of the children we installed a vegetable in the school’s courtyard. Not only did we build a garden, but we taught children about healthy eating habits. The second garden class I have taught was a part of an after-school program at Cornelius Elementary School. I was invited to participate in the program by a brother in the community who coordinates another local community garden called Muhammad Organic Farm. To have the ability to teach children how to grow their own food and being able to observe their excitement in the growth of vegetables has been a wonderful experience.

As I stated earlier, some of my work has led me to St. Petersburg, FL. I was invited by the Uhuru Movement to speak at a local community convention about a vision for a program I created called “Grub Not Grass”. The mission of the program is to increase stability and genuine economic development of low-income communities by converting vacant lots and personal grass lawns into ecologically and economically sustainable urban gardens. My presentation was very well received and during my stay in the area we went to work immediately to make this mental vision into a physically visible sight in the surrounding communities of St. Petersburg. We created at least 10 gardens as a part of the program and met with a couple of other land owners who were interested in being future program participants. Immediately following my presentation at the convention, I met a gentleman named Diop Olugbala. This brother had recently announced his plan to run for Mayor of Philadelphia and wanted to combine my vision for “Grub Not Grass” as a part of his campaign platform.

To receive a request to combine my vision with a mayoral campaign was quite an honor. So we had a couple of meetings and a month or so later I was on my way to Philadelphia, PA. Before my arrival I was briefed on the policies of police containment in Philadelphia and how $2.9 million annually was being spent by the present administration to imprison black and Latino youth. So we took that same $2.9 million and created a budget to convert at least 40 lots per year and employ (at the minimum) 396 young people in low-income communities of Philadelphia. The budget we created was just another form of the program called “Grub Not Grass”.

I have been blessed to be a part of many opportunities and to have more time to dedicate to my own personal endeavors. I have expanded my own community garden program close to a half of an acre, if not more. Also, I have restarted my masters degree program and have come to within 12 semester hours of completion. However, these great achievements have not come without encountering a few disappointments and hardships. There are more than a few endeavors which did not come into fruition for many different reasons. On my own behalf some financial and judgment mistakes have been made. Not to mention, I encountered a foundation problem at my home that put a nice size dent in my personal budget.

Despite the mistakes and inconveniences, I consider it all a very enlightening experience to be able to indulge in the endeavors in which I have. I have been able to learn many different things; most of these things have been about me. In terms of my immediate future, I will very soon be finished with my masters degree and will start the process to receive my CPA license. To do this and many other endeavors I must once again increase my income stream. So, I have begun to actively look for a more traditional accounting position and other opportunities to have the ability to bring even more of my dreams and desires into fruition.

1 comment:

  1. peace! this is awesome! i happened to be cleaning out my FB friends list (lol) and found your post streaming in the news feeds. i'm glad i stopped by. i had no idea all of this had been going on. it's been a minute since we've connected. all of this is inspiring. these are massive feats. you have been consistent with your vision and it's expanded beyond your own backyard and this is encouraging. thank you for sharing your experiences. i enjoyed reading about them. i look forward to reading more. much power, peace, and respect to you!