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Meet Aye!

Photo by Birch K
Hello, my name is Aye and I started working at MAP this October. I was born in a refugee camp on the boarder between the Karen state and Thailand. In middle school I took violin lessons. I enjoy learning more about others and their background stories. I am a person who will lend you a shoulder to cry on when you're going through a hard time.

One thing I've done at MAP so far is attend the Thanksgiving Potluck. It is hosted by MAP and everyone brings a dish if they can. It is an event that helps bring the community together. We, MAP's employees, host the event in order to bring joy and happiness to the community. How did we do this? By inviting everyone in MAP's community to get to know our neighbors as well as enjoy each other's food or dishes. Through this event we help connect the community together.

We have a fun activity to do for guests. When they arrive they have to go up to someone who they have never met before and ask them what they're thankful for. By doing this it allows the community to start a connection with each other.

Over all, this is one of the reasons I enjoy working at MAP. MAP takes a role in improving the community. Not just only Buffalo, but the whole world. We took a stand and speak about climate change and how it impacts our environment, and how future generations will be impacted in bad ways. MAP cares about its community and its environment. This is why I am proud to be a part of this organization and enjoy every bit of work I do here at MAP.

Birch's NESAWG experiences


Photos and text by Birch K

So my NESAWG weekend had many great experiences. Namely, going to Capitol Hill, listening to a people's history and doing my second photography job.


The first day I set foot in Baltimore we went to a pre-conference day called youth advocacy day. Basically, the goal was for us to share the youth's opinion in various aspects of the Farm Bill. Our training was being held in at the United Methodist Building, the only non government building in all of Capitol Hill. We got a crash-course training on how to farm and how to tell our stories. We then connected them to a part of the Farm Bill. I told about by brush with food insecurity and connected it to the child nutrition program and SNAP. After that we went off to the Hill to talk to legislators that represent New York and Buffalo.



Bees are good for our community


Hello, my name is Myo. I'm into music, I love music and I play the alto saxophone. I was born in Thailand in the year of 2000. I am a friendly person and I help out a lot. I like helping because I feel good about myself - so it helps me and them. I want to be a police officer when I graduate. It may change, but I want to help the community. I worked at MAP during the summer and am working today. I like working at MAP because it helps the community and brings awareness to things that people aren't aware of like bees and why they should be noticed.


Bees are dying a lot and only a few people notice. Some people just don't care or don't know. Why should we care if bees die? Well, bees are important to us because they pollinate our plants. I'm talking about honey bees, not yellow jackets or wasps because people also call them bees. Wasps and yellow jackets sting and people think all of them are the same so they don't care if bees die. Well, honey bees can only stink once and if they sting you they die. So, honey bees won't bother to sting you unless you bother them. Bees are also good for our community because they make our veggies - like tomatoes and peppers - and our flowers healthy and fresh and strong.

Illustrations by Levi
Healthy plants are good for us because if we eat them we are healthy. Sure, plants need sun and water to grow, but don't forget that they also need to be pollinated. Bees play a major role in pollination. They make honey from our plants, and our plants get pollinated making strong crops. Bees also make honey, so be aware of bees and don't bother them.


I learned these few facts about bees by working at MAP. Now I'm not even afraid of bees and I don't bother them knowing they are good for us. I'm saying that once people know that bees are good for us people won't both the bees. So, spreading awareness helps us and the bees.

I'm pretty sure people want to know what's going on



Hi, my name is Dakota. Today I'm going to be writing about three things that were memorable to me at NESAWG. It is a conference and it stands for Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group.

One thing that was memorable was going on a plane for the first time. The plane ride was really scary at first, but it was okay. The first plane ride to Baltimore was really jiggly, but the second was much better.

The second thing was going to Washington DC. It took about an hour to get there by train. We walked a lot, and our feet hurt, but it was worth it. There were no blisters or blood, so that's a good sign. What we did is we went to Capitol Hill and talked with congressmen and staff that deal with food systems and agriculture.

The last thing I did was go to workshops. I went to my friend Amida's along with Birch and Lucy. What we did in the workshop was talked with one person that we didn't know about why you are here, what do you want to take out of the workshop and what does climate change mean to you. We also played a game where you would either disagree, or agree with a statement. One statement was 'our teachers teach us about climate change.' A lot of youth went to the 'disagree' side because their teachers don't teach them. I was really shocked because I think that every teacher and every school should teach about climate change because it is important. I'm pretty sure people want to know what's going on.

Nutritional workshops can help the community



Hello anyone reading this. My full name is Win Win Thu. I was born in Thailand and I came to America when I was two years old. I grew up and was raised in Buffalo, New York. I attend Buffalo Public Schools my whole life. Alright, enough about me, let us get to the main point of this blog post: participating in a nutritional workshop.

This fall we had a workshop by Brooke, a dietetics student. She asked myself and my coworkers if we had any questions and interacted with us during her workshop. Also, I always wanted to eat healthy, but didn't know where to start. With Brooke's help I feel ready. (PS Brooke, if you read this thank you for telling me that anything that rhymes with 'gross' is evil sugar!)

How does a nutritional workshop help the community you ask ask? Well, let me tell you! It helps the community by educating them about what they are ingesting just be reading nutritional labels. It educates them by telling them there are alternatives and healthy choices to eat instead. For example, instead of getting a bag of hot Cheetos, you can get pretzels as a healthier choice.  Communities such as the west and east communities in Buffalo go to corner stores to access food. Nutrition education classes also teach how to and why to eat a healthy, well balanced diet. If you want a long life to the age of 500 you should eat a healthy diet. :-)


Interviewing people in our food system



Hello, my name is Adian. I am dedicated and hardworking. I was born and raised in Buffalo. I worked at MAP this summer as a youth employee through the Mayor's summer youth program. I am the next generation.

This fall we were talking to people in person and on the phone about what job they have in the food system. For example: producer, processor, truck driver, or consumer. One lady we interviewed said she's a part of an organization where people in the community can ask to turn an abandoned lot into a space to grow fruits and vegetables.

I honestly enjoyed talking to these people because it was great to hear about what job they have and how they got involved in it. We also discussed with them if they have members in the community helping out. One guy we interviewed said yes, people from the neighborhood help plant, or help with growing the plants and vegetables. So that was good to hear because that means people in the neighborhood could be active in their community. This is why I enjoyed the interviews because everyone has different things they do in their lives.

Three memorable things at NESAWG

Photo by Birch K

By Thaint T

In November I went to Baltimore, MD for NESAWG. I was super excited to go!

The first thing memorable to me was getting on a plane. I was on a plane when I first came to the US, but since I was so little I don't remember it. This time was scary, but hey, I can finally say that I've been on a plane.

The second thing that was memorable to me was seeing Baltimore. It was great. There were some pretty scenes on the train ride. And the Baltimore train when up off the ground.

The last thing was when I learned that slavery was still alive under 'punishment/jail' in the 13th amendment. I was surprised because I thought slavery was abolished. That's what my teacher told me - nothing else. I learned about jail life in MAP before, but not that inmates are 'paid' 10 cents a day. I don't know whose spirit can survive with 10 cents a day. Learning about that really shook me. In my opinion, the government should put money for programs and such for inmates when they come out of prison if they want the 'crime rate' to decrease.

Looking through diverse eyes


Hello! My name is Isabella and I'm 16 years old. I love to do art and look for different ways to be creative. My favorite fruit is raspberries. I am going to write about a storytelling identity workshop we did at work. It was very intriguing to me.

One work shift I was surprised because my supervisor, Rebekah, told us that we would be learning about our identities and telling stories. She first told us to pick our a shell and share why we picked it. It showed how different we are for the different reasons we chose our shells. We then partnered up with someone we just met and had to give them eye contact for 30 seconds. It was so awkward! It was ok though because we all related by laughing during the eye contact.

Our supervisor then told us to tell our partners a store in our families. We took turns and got two minutes each. Ti was enlightening for me to hear what my partner had to say. When we switched partners, we had to take turns telling stories about love that we've experienced of witnessed. For the remainder of the work shift we read stories out of a book called ' Octavia's Brood' by Adrienne Brown and Walidah Imarisha. The stories relate to social change in a metaphorical way.

I think that work shift has been one of my favorites because I felt closer to my co-workers in learning their backgrounds and traditions. The stories we heard from each toher were also very interesting. I found it cool how the stories in the book also related to social change and had hidden messages in them. I would like to do this again!

'Youth vs Climate Change' a workshop at NESAWG


By Amida A

When I went to NESAWG this year I hosted a workshop session. My workshop was called 'Youth vs. Climate Change.' I wanted to learn what others thought of climate change and if they believed in it. One thing that I learned that that most people are aware that climate change is real. I felt so passionate hosting my workshop at NESAWG because I felt like I was contributing to the climate change movement by spreading awareness with others.

I had my co-workers Lucy and Birch who talked about different topics regarding climate change. Lucy talked about climate justice which is a term used to frame the issue as an ethical and political issue rather than one that is purely environmental or physical. Lucy talked about how climate change is affected our environment and how we are currently facing weather tragedies because of climate change. Birch brought up the food part of climate change. She talked about how the food we eat is being affected and how much pollution we are releasing though our food production.

My workshop was a success and something I was glad to have accomplished. The turn out of people was more than I accepted, which was good. I am so proud of myself for making a step about fighting for climate change, and for the NESAWG conference for giving people the opportunity to come together.

Hearing Terry Tempest Williams



Hi, my name is Nina. I go to Mckinley High School. I have 4 sisters and 2 brothers. I love eating raw carrots. Taking pictures of nature is one of my hobbies.

I'm going to be talking about the Babel speaker Terry Tempest Williams. She was a speaker that influenced me to see how nature is being erased in our generation. Terry Tempest Williams speech showed me that the next generation is not going to be like the last.

The first things that she said was that the dictionary is removing words that describe nature and putting in words like MP3 player and Twitter. This shows how we are depending on technology and loosing our main resources.

I was fascinated with her story about how the bisons were like one strong community. She said one of the old bisons was dead so all the other bisons came and surrounded him. This showed me how not only humans have feelings, but also other species like bisons. We don't need to ignore all the new technology, but also let's not forget about the main resource that we actually depend on. 

Win's highlights from NESAWG

Photo by Birch K
My name is Win, and I am a sophomore at Performing Arts. On November 8th to November 11th I went to Baltimore for a conference called NESAWG. A highlight from my trip was staying in the hotel. I liked the hotel experience because it make me feel responsible and like an adult. It was cool coming back and forth from the restaurant late at night or conference sessions and using my own key card to get back to my room.

Another highlight from my trip was going to Washington DC to talk to legislators. It felt so unreal that I talked to legislators and could express my thoughts and opinions to help change the world. Another reason why going to DC was a highlight is because I learned things I never new about our capital. I learned that it isn't a state and the land is owned by the government. People in Washington can own their house, but whenever the government needs the land the house is on they can knock on your door and you have to move.

Interviewing community stakeholders



My name is Lay Dia and I am 16 years old. I am currently a junior at Hutch Tech. I am intereted in traveling to other countries to learn and experience the different cultures in our world. I am very passionate to learn and experience things that relate to our community. The community is a place we all are a part of, so I believe each individual place an important role in shaping it the better or worse. If we all work together to raise concerns and awareness in our community, we can make a change.

This school year I decided to work at MAP and so far it has been an amazing experience for me. Throughout the week I work at the center and sometimes in the garden. One of the projects we focused on that really impacted by understanding of the community was interviewing stakeholders for an event called The People's Food Movement. It is an event to display the problems that our community is experiences through the eyes of stakeholders. Stakeholders are people in our community that can affect or be affected by projects we do.

One of the stakeholders that I interviewed by phone call was Beth Machnica. She is a Healthy Community Catalyst who works in the medical campus to promote a more healthy workplace for people. As I interviewed her I discovered that I am really clueless about my community and that I need to be more aware. I also learned about problems in our community that people are facing.

One of the problems she mentioned is the lack of vehicle ownership in our community. This issue really shocked me because we are living in the 21st century and who would have thought that owning a vehicle was a concern when technology is booming? I also learned that since people don't own vehicles they do not have access to supermarkets. This causes them to depend on corner stores for food, which cannot provide them with the nutrition that their bodies needs.

Through this interview I realized that there are a lot of people who are willing to improve our communities. For example, Beth said that she attends policy meetings and worked on a project to bring samples of healthy food to corner stores. But current policies do not allow her to bring food samples to stores. Even though we want to improve our communities there will always be policies that restrict us. This interview influenced me to believe that we have to have the perseverance if we really want to make our community better.

MAP has been a great workplace for me, I am learning every time I work and I know that in the future MAP will continue to open up my eyes to the issues in my community and much more.

MAP Staff participate and lead in local Justice & Ecology Retreat

walking on the hillThis September, Rebekah, Claire, and Katie joined a cohort of 30 local leaders from Buffalo’s Crossroads Collective for a 3-day Justice & Ecology Retreat with trainers from Movement Generation (MG), a national organization based in the Bay Area, California.
Held at the Rochester Folk Art Guild, an intentional community and craft center located on a 350-acre farm in the Finger Lakes, participants were truly able to retreat from their day-to-day responsibilities in Buffalo.
mateo teaching imageThe retreat focused on nurturing our region's ecological justice movement by exploring connections between ecological, economic, and social crises.  Movement Generation and Crossroads Collective trainers encouraged an exploration of the Just Transition framework through interactive and popular education lessons, and dialogue.
In addition to the participation of several MAP staff as trainees, our organization's Youth Education Director Rebekah Williams, partnered with MG staff to co-facilitate some of the lessons and helped develop the relationship with the Folk Art Guild.
The Crossroads Collective hopes that through the retreat experience, its members can bring knowledge about the Just Transition framework to more people and organizations in Buffalo.
To learn more about the Crossroads Collective, visit Facebook here.

Meet Gabby!


My name is Gabriela but I like being called Gabby. My favorite color is red and I like playing sports. I also like being indoors and I help my family in any way I can. I have 2 brothers on my mom’s side and 3 sisters on my dad’s side. My parents are not together anymore. I live with my mom and one of my brothers. I am only 14 years old and I don’t like school as much as animals. I have two best friends, Lizzy and Daniella. I like art but I haven’t been doing it as much. I’ve been lazy lately. I love cookouts. I also like being in my room (when it’s clean) and listening to music. I love having movie nights with snacks with my family and I love going to the mall.

Gabe returns to MAP!


By Gabe C

I am a 16 year old youth working at MAP. I will be attending I-Prep as a junior this coming school year. Other organizations I am involved in include HYPE – Healthy Youth Positive Energy – a district wide youth group that addresses issues students face. I am the current acting president in this group. I am also currently an intern at the Albright-Knox where I work with the public art initiative. My accolades include winning the West Side Community Services Award, being able to skate board and crying only three times a week on average. My hobbies include making good memories with friends, listening to good music, skateboarding and being unable to end paragraphs.

Lucy returns as a Citizenship and Organizing specialist!


My name is Lucy. I consider myself to be a Chinese-born American activist and writer. I am currently 17 years old, born on April 6th at the turn of the century. I am a centennial (and we are better than millennials).

This is my second summer working at MAP. I joined Rebekah Williams and other youth employees on various trips during the 2016-2017 school year, including Common Bound, NESAWG, and the follow-up trip to NYC.

I am a writer and I love being able to create worlds and breathe life into them because writing stories is like doing magic. It’s exhilarating, liberating, and makes me think about my social values. In the same way, I love reading, love diving into someone else’s world and letting it take me for a ride. I plan to read all nine school books this summer.

In addition, I have a passion for science. I haven’t decided my major yet, but I do know I want to study science. Currently, my top choices are environmental science, marine biology, and behavioral neuroscience.

So far I’m enjoying being a Citizenship and Organizing specialist. While I am still hoping to have a chance to volunteer at the farm, I’m looking forward to exploring what C&O has to offer.

MAP Youth visit BPS commisary



We took a tour to BPS commissary where they make all the school lunches and we learn how they make it and transport it. I thought it was fun going there!
~Eddi S
Some things I learned was how the school lunches are made. My favorite part was when we went inside the fridge and how they packed the food so fast. We had a talk about how many schools they give food to.
~Harriette H
Today’s trip was very interesting because I saw where my food came from. I always wondered if my school itself made the food from scratch but it turns out they just heat the food that’s delivered to them. It was also informative.
~Win T


We went on a trip to the BPS food commissary and we learned about the food production that’s being packaged (food that was cooked to the right temperature/ food put to a cold temperature). Ms. O’Brien-Wood said that 29 thousand meals are prepackaged!
~Aidan M
Today we went on a field trip to the BPS food commissary. We saw how they make the food. We were walking around and we saw a lot of food packagers, they work so hard! There is a big big oven and they gave us food for breakfast/lunch. 78% have free lunch in the city of Buffalo.
~Puja 
Today we went to the place where meals for the Buffalo Public Schools are made. I realized that there are a lot different aspects that the director has to pay attention to such as deliveries, temperature of the food, and safety measures which can make it harder to manage cosmetic things, like taste and appearance. I think when individuals complain about the quality of the food, they should consider the other labor one has to go through to provide fresh and nutritious food for them.
~Aking M


Today we saw how the food was packaged. We also learned where the food goes and how they get to the school. They all take about a day to get made and they get shipped out the same day.
~Yeishalie R
Something that I learned today was that almost all of the food that the BPS in Buffalo have, Bridget controls what we have on our menu. Some of the workers at the place don’t have degrees. They have different rooms for different foods depending on the temperature. The workers have to make sure that the food is at a frozen stage in order to pack up and ship to the schools.
~Angelica

Win Returns!


By Win T

Hi everyone, I’m 15 years old. I am about to be sophomore at Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts. I am Burmese and Karen, so I am tri-lingual if you include English. In my free time I like to watch TC and sit outside. My favorite food is friend shrimp because I love seafood. I also love, love, love fruits. They taste absolutely amazing and are healthy. I like working at MAP because it gives me the opportunity to make my community a better place.

Meet Kayla!


By Kayla M

My name is Kayla. I like to be independent. Making my own money is very important to me because one day I’m gonna buy my way our of the hood. I come from the east side of Buffalo, and now I’m living on the west side. Math is also important to me because I would like to go to college for a business degree in finance and management. In my free time I listen to music or sleep. My favorite food is chicken fingers and fries with honey mustard or barbeque sauce. The best part of working at MAP is meeting new people. For the remainder of the summer I will be in Philly.

Meet Puja!


Hello, my name is Puja. I am from Nepal. I am 16 years old. I have my mom and brother. In my free time I like to watch Hindi drama and talking with my mom. My favorite food is salad and momo. I like to eat salad and momo because it’s for your health. I like to work at MAP because It’s dun and I learned more about plants, foods and fruits. My plans for this summer is working at MAP and spending time with my coworkers and friends.

MAP Youth visit Blue Hill Farm and Native Offerings



The dairy farm field trip was interesting. We saw different series of cows and how the milk are taken from the cow and stored in a big container. We also went to the farm where vegetables and crops were grown, such as cucumbers, peppers, and tomatoes. We learned about about how the food gets from the farm to the city!
~Peter M


We went to native offerings and learned about produce and looked at their farmland and saw what they were growing. We learned about how they grew everything.
Blue Hill was really fun. We saw cows and a really really cute farm cat. The baby cows were really cute and we learned about how we managed the cows.
~Frances W


When the MAP youth visited Blue Hill dairy farm, I know I enjoyed myself immensely. We took a tour of the farmlands, saw cows, petted cows, and met an awesome barn cat. It was radical, and it took all my effort to not steal the cat.
~Gabriel C



So last week we went to a farm and I learned how the yogurt and cheese is made and how they collect the fruit and vegetable. I found out that cows on a farm are cool to have.
~Daniel S

Meet Daniel!



Hi there, my name is Daniel, and I am 16 years old. I was born on August 4th. My original language is Spanish. My family is incredible. I have my mother, father, stepfather, stepmother, 5 brothers and 3 sisters. What I like to do in my free time is play basketball, ride my bike, eat, sleep and play video games. My favorite foods are pizza and tacos. I like them because they are really goof and easy to make. The best part about working at MAP is meeting so many good people that let me be their friend. I also like the games that we play. This work makes me feel like I am at home and I can be myself around people. My plans for the rest of the summer are to ride my bike and go see my sister’s soccer practice. I really like the sport!

Meet Angelica!



My name is Angelica. I have two younger sisters and one older brother. I just turned 16. What I like to do in my free time is sleep. My favorite hobbies are eating and sleeping. I also like cleaning and organizing when I’m stressed. I was born in Chicago, and raised in Puerto Rico. I’m known for my crazy curls and dimples (that are now fading) and almost always doing my eyeliner.

Meet Harriette!


By Harriette

I come from Puerto Rico. I have 1 older brother and 1 younger sister. In my free time I like to sleep and play volleyball. My favorite food is pizza. The best part about MAP is when we play games and get paid. For the rest of the summer I’m planning to do good at MAP.

Meet Myo!



My name is Myo, The three major parts of my identity is my humor, the sports I play and my education. These are important because they identify me. I play soccer because it was the sport I grew up with and it is fun. My education is important because it identifies our knowledge and what we do. My humor is really important because it identifies who I am as a person. My favorite food is Thai food. I like it because it tastes really good to me. The best part of working at MAP are the people in here. MAP is fun and we work well together.

Checking in with Ingabire!



By Ingabire A

I am 16 years old and am a junior at Emerson School of Hospitality. I was born in Congo and because of war my parents moved to Kenya where I spent most of my childhood. It’s now my third year in the USA. I started working at MAP in the beginning of the summer of 2015. MAP has influenced me in a lot of ways. I learned farming, being an activist and ho to communicate with people. I have made friends through MAP and went to places like NYC, Connecticut and Washington DC.

I want to graduate high school and go to a college of my choice. I want to dorm for college. I love clothes, which lead me to be interested in fashion. I want to be a blogger and a journalist and a model. I want to be able to travel one day around the whole world.

Harvesting peppers and onions


How to harvest green beans


By Pepper, Daniel and Yeishalie

Checking in with Birch



Birch K

Hi my name is Birch! I am 16 years old and I have been working at MAP since the summer of 2015. I go to City Honors. I spend most of my time photographing, hanging with friends, and listening to NPR. Choosing a favorite food stresses me out so… we not gonna go there. The Very Best part of working for MAP are the trips we go on. Whenever we go somewhere I meet incredible people. I’m excited to work in the kitchen all summer and expand my skills.

Meet Aking!


Aking M

Three major parts of my identity are music, peace and creativity. They are important to me because without music I would have no peace, and if I have no peace my mind cannot think creatively. Each respect of my personality has its role in balancing my life. In my free time I like to play the guitar or play basketball. My favorite food is mac n’ cheese. I like it because it’s so cheesy and warm and gooey. The best part about working at MAP so far is the games and the farm tour when we indulged in cherries. My plans for the summer and fall are working, publishing my book and getting out of high school.

Meet Nina!


Nina A

My name is Nina. I was born in April. I’m going to be a freshman next year. I live with 8 people – 4 sisters, 2 brothers and my parents. They are crazy, but I don’t even care. I was born in Congo with my other siblings. We came to the United States in 2013. I started working at MAP this year. I’m really interested in people who need help, like sick people. When I grow up I want to be a doctor and travel all around the world helping people.