Upcoming Events

The Puget Sound Alliance for Retired Americans (PSARA) comes to the Greenwood Senior Center!

In an effort to continue expanding civic engagement at the Greenwood Senior Center, PSARA, a group dedicated to upholding justice and civil rights for seniors and all Americans, will begin holding a monthly discussion group at the senior center. PSARA is a chapter of the national Alliance for Retired Americans, working toward progressive change in the areas of health care, social security, housing, transportation, immigration, and many more. To learn more about PSARA's work, check out their website: www.psara.org.

The first meeting is this Thursday, June 10, from 1-2pm at the Greenwood Senior Center. All meetings are facilitated by Bette Reed, Community Vice President of PSARA.

Join us!

Monthly SAGE meetings begin.

On Tuesday, June 15th, at 2pm, SAGE will have its first monthly meeting to begin discussing SAGE’s transition into a more sustainable model (see post below). We’ll talk about our collaboration with PSARA and start planning for the fall. Please join us if you can!

As always, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Emily at the Greenwood Senior Center (206-297-0875/emily@greenwoodseniorcenter.org). Thanks!

Monday, June 7, 2010

SAGE begins it's transition

Hi everyone,

I’m writing all of you to let you know about SAGE-related activities this summer as well as explain the state SAGE finds itself in now and how it will begin to change this summer.

As hopefully all of you were aware of, we held our Annual SAGE meeting a few weeks ago, where we briefly discussed the history of SAGE and how it went this last year. Cecily, the Greenwood Senior Center’s Director, also told the group why we are unable to have an Americorps next year dedicated to coordinating SAGE, as I and the two Americorps before me have done. The reason we cannot have an Americorps member as SAGE Coordinator has to do with the funding surrounding the Americorps project and the notion that after three years of Americorps members working on a particular project, it either should be sustainable on its own without an Americorps member leading it, or it should be led by an actual staff member of the host organization.

From the Summit we saw that even though it’s evident that many people enjoy coming to the various educational presentations we have on social and environmental justice issues, no one can really commit the time to organizing, publicizing, and inviting in speakers twice a month or more. Thus, we have started to re-envision what civic engagement can look like at the senior center, searching for a self-led, sustainable model that remains fulfilling and meaningful for all of you.

Cecily, some of the key members of SAGE, and I got together and identified three facets of civic engagement that we would like to see continued at the senior center. These are: ACTION, ADVOCACY, and EDUCATION/DISCUSSION. The one-time action projects we’ve tried to do haven’t always been very popular. However, our longer-term action projects (i.e. the Aurora Community Dinners, the Alternative Gift Market, and the SAGE vegetable community garden), have done much better. We are thinking that it therefore makes sense to support and expand these projects during this next year. Either a staff member or an Americorps would assist in the logistics necessary for the particular project, but the idea is that SAGE members would essentially lead the project themselves, perhaps through formation of sub-committees for each project.

Regarding the education and advocacy components, we have made a connection with a community social justice organization interested in sustaining these aspects of civic engagement at the senior center. The organization is the Puget Sound Alliance for Retired Americans (PSARA), a chapter of the national Alliance for Retired Americans. The mission statement of the group is:

“…to ensure social and economic justice and full civil rights for all citizens so that they may enjoy lives of dignity, personal and family fulfillment and security. The Alliance believes that all older and retired persons have a responsibility to strive to create a society that incorporates these goals and rights and that retirement provides them with opportunities to pursue new and expanded activities with their unions, civic organizations and their communities.”

PSARA is a group that educates on and advocates for various social justice issues, including: homelessness, immigration, health care, social security, affordable housing, transportation, and many others.
Incidentally, the PSARA independently contacted us to start up a discussion group surrounding social justice and civil rights issues this at the senior center this summer, right at the time that we were discussing a new model for SAGE. We met up yesterday, and the president and vice president of PSARA seem very excited about collaborating with the senior center and the SAGE project.

So, what does this all mean? Right now, I have three SAGE meetings for the summer scheduled, which will be on the third Tuesday of the month at 2pm. At these meetings, we will discuss SAGE’s transition more, see how we are all feeling about the changes, and begin to organize committees for the three action projects. PSARA will be holding discussion groups on the second Thursday of the month, from 1-2pm. Bette Reed, the Community Vice President of PSARA will facilitate the discussions, bring in speakers, and brainstorm with participants on the social justice advocacy and education they would like to pursue.

I encourage you to attend both the PSARA discussion groups, to get an idea of how the education/discussion and advocacy components of civic engagement can look like at the senior center, as well as the SAGE meetings, where we can talk more about the new model and enhance our three action projects. To learn more about what PSARA does, you can visit their website, www.psara.org.

The first PSARA meeting is Thursday, June 10, at 1pm and the first SAGE meeting is Tuesday, June 15, at 2pm. I will be at both.

I love the purpose of the SAGE project and think it is so important, and hope that our new model can expand and deepen civic engagement at the senior center.

I know this is a lot of information, so please feel free to call or email me with any questions or concerns. We’ll of course talk more about all of this at the first SAGE meeting.

Thanks for all your participation in and support of the SAGE project so far.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

SAGE Garden in Bloom

Hello everyone! I do apologize for the extreme lack of blogging these last few months. This is really the first time in my life that I’ve tried to do it, and I realize I that I’m not great at it. BUT, I am trying to make more of a commitment to doing it, so that those of you who cannot make all the SAGE events have a convenient place to go to find out what’s been going on.

Our biggest news right now is the garden! We planted some salad greens, mustard, radishes, beets, cauliflower, broccoli, peas, and some other veggies a few weeks ago and are just seeing some green sprouts popping up. The harvest from the garden will go the senior center kitchen and be used in our daily lunches, while extras will be available at our weekly “food bank.”

We will start workdays fairly soon, once the garden is ready to harvest, and will also do some summer planting. If you would like to help out sometime, shoot me and email or give me a call and I’ll make sure to contact you about happenings at the garden.

In the meantime, head over to the senior center on a sunny day and take a few quiet minutes to enjoy the garden, located on the east side of the senior center, next door.

Friday, October 2, 2009

September: A month of water and health care reform.

September 2009: The Piper’s Creek Watershed

To begin this season’s focus on water, we turned to Seattle’s Piper’s Creek Watershed, the border of which lies at the foot of the senior center’s doorstep. Bill Malatinsky, a watershed interpretive specialist for the city, joined the SAGE group on September 8th to talk about the Piper’s Creek watershed and the problems that threaten its vitality. Bill discussed the combined sewage cycle that the GSC is a part of. Runoff will either go directly into the Piper’s Creek streams or into sewage lines and through water treatment plants. Apparently water treatment plants were not built to handle many of the chemicals, that come from cars for example, and the pollutants end up still being ejected directly into the Puget Sound. Bill also discussed how over the past half century the amount of rain that made it to the ground and became surface water has increased from 3% of total rainfall to 25% of total rainfall. This is due to a decrease in trees from logging and an increase in impervious surfaces. All this creates more runoff that drags pollutants and chemicals straight into our streams, rivers, and eventually Puget Sound. Bill told us that another dire consequence of increased runoff is sewage overflows, where, during storms, the sewage drains reach maximum capacity and overflows with sewage water that enters streams and creeks without any sort of treatment. Bill finished his presentation with a clip from the PBS special called “Poisoned Waters,” a film that examines the devastating effects pollution has had on fish, other wildlife, and the potential threat it poses to the health of humans. We then talked about changes that are being made to the city of Seattle, such as SEA streets, that takes in storm water in order to relieve pressure on the sewage drains. We finished with the reminder that we would discuss long-term projects on our “Action Day” with Bill at the end of the month that the GSC could engage in to reduce the amount of runoff and pollution levels within our neighborhood.

On Tuesday, September 22, we were supposed to take a trip to Carkeek Park’s environmental learning center to learn about the center and do some work in the gardens. Unfortunately, we did not have enough people express interest and had to cancel the trip. However, if you are interested in doing something like this, please contact me and we can try to get a group together at a time that works for everyone.

This last Tuesday, September 29, Bill Malatinsky came back to the Greenwood Senior Center for our “onsite action project.” Although only two SAGE participants attended, we had a great conversation with Bill on potential long-term projects that the GSC could do that helps benefit the Seattle watersheds in some way. Here is a list of ideas we came up with:

Please join us at our next committee meeting, October 12th at 1:30pm, to further discuss these long-term project ideas and upcoming SAGE events. I look forward to seeing you there!

Friday, July 31, 2009

July: Community Gardening

In an excellent article entitled "Why Bother?", Michael Pollan argues that "the single greatest lesson the garden teaches is that our relationship to the planet need not be zero-sum, and that as long as the sun still shines and people still can plan and plant, think and do, we can, if we bother to try, find ways to provide for ourselves without diminishing the world." In July the SAGE Project set out to learn more about producing our own food and the benefits of community gardening.

Community Gardening - from Victory Gardens to P-Patches: During many periods in history, urban agriculture has helped solve food security issues while producing local, nutritious food for all. Sandy Pernitz from Seattle's P-Patch program joined the SAGE Project to give us a history of community gardening movements and an overview of the P-Patch program, which was born out of environmental activism in the 1970s and today provides 68 community gardens for residents throughout Seattle. SAGE participants learned about the many benefits of community gardening, including connection to food, community building, cultural traditions, public expression, improving neighborhoods and cross-generational connections. The P-Patch program also promotes community food security by encouraging gardeners to donate fresh produce to local food banks and feeding programs; in 2008 P-Patch gardeners donated 12.3 tons of organic produce!

Wanda Moore, a GSC member, shared her reflections on Victory Gardens in Seattle during the World War II era. She remembers residents creating huge gardens on abandoned farm land and ripping up parking strips to grow produce, and she spoke about how the experience would bring neighbors together. Dan Pavlovic, a community member who is on the steering committee for Vision Greenwood Park, discussed the opportunity to develop a P-Patch garden in an empty lot located in the nearby Greenwood Park with enough community support. Karen Cirulli, an AmeriCorps volunteer focusing on community development, provided information about the community garden she coordinates on Aurora.

Volunteering at the Aurora Community Garden: In April, Awake Church began a community garden with the hope of beautifying Aurora, providing food for community meals and, most importantly, bringing people together. Following the SAGE presentation on community gardening, we headed over to the garden on an extremely hot afternoon to help out with a few projects. The heat was so oppressive that we had to limit the work we did, but it was a valuable experience nonetheless.

Karen gave us a tour, talking about the many neighbors she's gotten to know through Wednesday night barbeques held at the garden and the participation of the community in garden maintenance. We spent our time creating "tee-pees" for the beans, thinning carrots, weeding around the lettuce and kale, and participating in the very first harvest! On our way back to GSC we stopped at the Sun Hill Motel to share freshly picked peas, baby carrots and green pepper with the residents there.

Click here for more photos:
Aurora Community Garden

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Skills for the New Millennium

The Skills for the New Millennium Tour has been traveling the country since 2008, offering education and resources to any and all interested in cultivating revolutionary ways of living. In June the SAGE Project welcomed Stan, Delyla and Megan Wilson who arrived at the Greenwood Senior Center in the Permibus - a 40-foot mobile permaculture demonstration bus complete with solar power, greywater systems, a composting toilet, three dogs and a clutch of chickens! SAGE Participants enjoyed workshops on Permaculture Ethics & Basics, Composting and Canning and afterward were given a tour of the Permibus. (Click here for a complete list of workshops and trainings offered by the Skills Tour.) A group of excited kids from the Boys and Girls Club also joined us for the tour - they were thrilled to hold a live chicken, intrigued by the worm composting bin and expressed a mixture of fascination and disgust at the composting toilet on the bus.

The principles of permaculture, which are based on indigenous cultures in Australia and Papua New Guinea, are driven by ethics: care for the earth, care for the people, share the surplus and live as though we were permanent residents. The Permaculture 101 workshop encouraged us to challenge the notion that arose in the 1700s that resources are scarce and therefore have to be hoarded. The reality is that resources are abundant and therefore should be shared. Stan Wilson referred to this idea as "sustainable hedonism" - we can and should live well caring for the earth.

Click here for more photos:

Friday, June 19, 2009

June: Good Food!

Film & Forum: The SAGE Project kicked off its summer program on Sustainable Food with a screening of the movie Good Food, a film that offers an intimate look at farmers, ranchers and businesses that are creating a more sustainable food system in the Pacific Northwest. Sue McGann, community activist and farm coordinator for the Lettuce Link Giving Garden at Marra Farm, led us in a great discussion following the film. We talked about how supporting small family farms who produce food sustainably is essential in the face of climate change, the end of cheap energy and rising health care costs. Shopping locally and organically benefits the environment, our local economy and our own personal well being.

Click here for a great resource on the issues: Why buy sustainable?

Sustainable Community Dinner: In partnership with Awake Church, the SAGE Project hosted a second community dinner for residents of Phinney/Greenwood and our neighbors living in motels along Aurora. This time around there was a special focus on building community through the sharing of a meal founded on the principles of a sustainable food system. We were grateful for the support of PCC, Greenwood Market, the Essential Baking Company and New Roots Organics in these efforts.

A wonderful group of about 60 volunteers and guests joined us for the meal, bringing together people from the Greenwood Senior Center, motels along the Aurora corridor, the Greenwood/Phinney community, HomeStep (a transitional housing program) and Awake Church. It was beautiful to witness connections form among neighbors who might not otherwise interact. Following a lovely meal made with fresh and local organic food (including barbeque chicken, lentil loaf, green salad and summer crisp), guests joined in on some square dancing fun led by callers and musicians from the Seattle Subversive Square Dance Society!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Follow up on immigration issues

On Saturday evening, June 6, members of SAGE, Sustainable Greenwood and the greater community came together to watch the critically-acclaimed film The Visitor, which offers a unique glimpse into the U.S. immigration system and the people it affects through the story of a disillusioned economics professor whose life is transformed by a chance encounter.

The discussion that followed brought up many complex and difficult issues dealing with immigration detention, immigration policy and the need for immigration reform. Topics that came up included: ICE raids, human rights abuses, denial of due process, separation of families, border enforcement, profits earned by corporations who own detention centers, and our own heritage as immigrants in the U.S.

The following link provides a lot of great information about the U.S. detention and deportation system: http://www.detentionwatchnetwork.org/aboutdetention

Click here to see OneAmerica's report on human rights violations at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, and here to see its report on how immigrants contribute to our state's economy.

The Reform Immigration for America campaign was launched in several cities nationwide Monday, June 2 and sponsored locally by OneAmerica. For information about the campaign and how to get involved, click on the following link: http://www.reformimmigrationforamerica.org/index.php