Spotlight . . .


Community - Campus Day of Service

April 5, 2014

On Saturday, April 5th, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign kicked off National Volunteer Week with an inaugural Community-Campus Day of Service. Over 60 students, faculty and staff worked with six community partners on seven projects to complete pre-construction projects, community garden spring preparation projects, flyering in the community, reorganizing classrooms at Tap in Leadership Academy, cataloging choral literature, and preparing a Bee Garden. A big thank you goes out to all who helped on April 5!


Enriching perspectives through community engagement

Outreach Weekend Report - April 20-21, 2012

Weekend Summary
We have wrapped up our Spring semester with another great Outreach Weekend. We spent the weekend partnering with Nicole Bridges and Prosperity Gardens. We helped them out with several projects that are preparing them for the spring and summer planting seasons. Students were kept busy with projects from painting signs to building a compost bin. Friday started out a bit soggy with a cold pattering rain steadily pouring down. We did not let this dampen our spirits however. Everyone bundeled up and grabbed a poncho as Nicole Bridges showed us around Prosperity Gardens, and shared her mission and long term vision with us. It is amazing what she has accomplished and we hope to continue to partner with Prosperity Gardens as they expand and grow in the coming years. After our introduction to Prosperity Gardens, we were joined by Mike Brunk, from the Landscape Recycling Center (LRC) and city arborist. He gave us an introduction to the Landscape Recycling Center, and discussed composting and its benefits. The students had the opportunity to dialogue with him as he did a simple demonstration of how one might compost in their own back yard. As the rain continued to pour, we took a tour of the North Champaign area around Prosperity Gardens. This was an eye opener for many students who don’t venture far from campus. We discussed the many issues currently facing this neighborhood and area. Following the tour we enjoyed a delicious lunch at Fiesta Café, allowing many of the students to get to know one another, and discuss their perspective of the tour and Prosperity Gardens. Following lunch we decided to hold off on beginning our projects due to the cold rain, and we made several stops around the community. We stopped by both the Idea store and the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store. Both of these places are local stores that are all about adaptive reuse and recycling. Students were given the opportunity to walk about the stores and understand what it means to be sustainable, and reuse things that may otherwise be looked over. As we wrapped up the day we stopped by the Landscape Recycling Center to check out their operations and to see everything that Mike Brunk had described to us. Saturday was a completely new day, as the rain had passed, students arrived at Noble Hall ready to get to work. When we arrived at Prosperity Gardens we immediately got to work. Several teams were broken into, each working on a specific project. Nicole led a small group of students around the neighborhood handing out flyers in preparation for our afternoon cookout while others began working on different projects around the garden. These projects included building a compost bin, erecting a fence to keep out pests, painting a chalkboard, painting bricks, planting flowers, and beautifying the surrounding area. As we broke for lunch, we were joined by a number of community members as well as our friends from Lord and Lacy Barbeque who set up their giant smoker and cooked up some wonderful pulled pork, hotdogs, and hamburgers. Some students played sports and games with kids in the neighborhood, while others talked with residents about their neighborhood and Prosperity Gardens. As we got back to work in the afternoon the students made quick work of their projects. We wrapped up the garden fence and set posts for the gate, painted a couple more coats of paint on the chalkboard, laid out some bricks that were painted in the morning, and assembled the compost bin. Good times were had by all as we wrapped up the day with a delicious cup of custard from Darlings Custard Cup! -Chase Miller Despite the rain, we weren't going to let it stop our day of fun-filled learning and community engagement. Friday morning, the students were introduced to Nicole Bridges, who is the visionary of Prosperity Gardens. She explained to us the future plans of turning the old evidence building into a community center that will serve as a center of education and production of fresh food year-round. Shortly after, we toured the neighborhood and Nicole shared community plans and informed us of additional community-based programs and establishments. Later, Mike Brunk, the Arborist for the City of Urbana, met with our team and explained the ins and outs of composting and demonstrated how to compost in our own backyards! WCIA 3 News covered the demonstration and hopefully we can get the word out about the ease of composting!! Prior to lunch, we visited another community-based organization, the Re-Store, run by the Habitat for Humanity. I got to know the students much better during our lunch at the Fiesta Cafe. After lunch we visited the Landscape Recycling Center in Urbana to see "where the [composting] magic happens!" What a massive place! Our final visit during our rain-plagued day was to the IDEA Store on First and Springfield. It's a great little store that recycles anything and everything and generates great adaptive re-use ideas for patrons! Anything from Pringles containers to zippers and dental tools, there's something for everyone! Saturday we were blessed with a great deal of sunshine that motivated the mass efforts of revamping Prosperity Gardens. Patrick Hatch and I led a crew of students in building a 6' x 3' composting bin! It took all day, but we got it done and it is the most beautiful composting bin I've even seen! We else edged the flower garden with freshly painted edging bricks, weeded the corn field, built a fence around the produce garden to keep hungry critters at bay, and spread mulch. Lord & Lacy hosted an awesome Cook-Out Jubilee and neighborhood residents and business owners came out to join us! It was a great weekend and the student learned so much about their C-U community, benefits of gardening, and we really broke the invisible boundaries that exist between the University and Community. For me, it was a great end to an awesome experience over the last three years working with ESLARP and AR.I. I'll miss everyone and am elated to see the progress we are making here an home, in our own neighborhood, amongst our own people. - Jenna Goebig

Action Research Illinois University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Fine and Applied Arts
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