Greetings, Grow Appalachians! Holly, VISTA with Grow Appalachia HQ here. It’s going to be a very busy couple of weeks here for us, as we are now less than two weeks away from our All-Hands gathering! It’s funny…we set the dates back in November and at the time, it seemed so far away. And now it is practically upon us! For those of you that I haven’t had the privilege of meeting yet, I am greatly looking forward to making your acquaintance. Meanwhile, I spent Wednesday- Friday of last week on high tunnel builds, the former finishing up our tunnels over at The David School. You may remember them from my tale back in December when we first set up shop there, amidst rain and mud as far as the eye could see. Anyway, we spent Wednesday and Thursday of last week there to, essentially, finish what we started- and finish we certainly did!! Two respite-filled, 100% RAIN FREE days with staff and students working alongside each other to pave the way for something that’s never been done before (that I’m aware of, anyway): two high tunnels on the grounds of a school in the state of Kentucky. It’s pretty amazing, actually! I think sometimes we really don’t get to sit back and think of the long-term implications of the work we do…the “bigger picture”, so to speak. But that’s exactly what these students and staff, and those that will walk through those doors long after they’re gone, will get to do. Much like the first visit, the students were ready, all hands on deck, and we wasted no time getting started! The original plan was to have one team finish the first tunnel and have another team start the second one, but…when the atmosphere is just full of excitement, lines of tasks get cross and well…I think most everyone was excited to start afresh all over again, since many of them were familiar with the process. We finished the first tunnel by the end of the first day…but it took most of the day to even get to that point, and we didn’t have that much to complete on it to begin with! But it was all in good spirits, and the most important thing is that we had fun, the students had fun, and the tunnels are complete and ready to be filled with David School-grown goodness!
I was greatly inspired by our first visit to TDS, and our second visit was no exception at all! In addition to an absolutely fantastic dinner from local eatery Lizzie B’s (highly recommended if you ever find yourself in Prestonsburg), it was a joy to work with the students once again. They’re such a fun and hardworking bunch! It’s incredible to see such a tight-knit group of students working together. You definitely don’t see that in typical public school. Well…at least I didn’t, anyway. At The David School, there’s no cliques, no social hierarchies. Everyone knows everyone, teacher and student eat and work together, everyone looks out for each other. It’s like an extended family, a community of like-minded kids just trying to figure it all out. Something we’ve had the privilege of being a part of twice is what they call “the morning round-up”, where after they recite the Pledge of Allegiance and have announcements, Diantha (the principal) usually shares what I call a “food for thought” to frame the day. On the last day we were there, Diantha shared the age-old saying that “it takes a village”. We usually associate this saying to include “It takes a village to raise a child.” But given what we do and what we are a part of, I would take that saying one step further and say that it takes a village to take part in meaningful, influential work. And sometimes, you’ll be surprised by those village folk that you’re working next to.