A Day with Teens: Practicing Self Care

     When asked about the obstacles they face in being happy, teens will give you a big list. We are too tired, we are stressed, we are sad. If you even scratch the surface you’ll find the mind can be a jumble of insecurity and unhappiness. During sophomore year, I found the concept of self-care. But what was it? Could I simply change a couple habits and I’d be happy all the time? On Wednesday we at MAP explored and practiced a few concepts of self-care.

     Chevy started this conversation up basically by asking us what we thought self-care is. It essentially is when you set good habits so you don't lose control of yourself. They used the metaphor of a child with a balloon. You are the child, and the balloon is your inner state. The child gets the balloon and walks down the street but it sees a distraction! And suddenly it loosens control over the balloon. When we aren't making sure to make sure our inner state is secure, it makes us feel like our lives are out of control. But what tools are there to maintain control. Well, with what they call “The Wheel of Self Care”, Chevy introduced some tools. There was a picture of a wheel with 5 sections labelled: physical, emotional, spiritual, personal, and professional. Together, we brainstormed what taking care of ourselves looks like. Overall we saw that the goal was to intentionally do things to make ourselves feel good. Sometimes we have low self-esteem because we self-sabotage, and find that we believe what we’re saying. But to take care of of ourselves we need to change our inner narrative.

     With that introduced we moved to the classroom to talk about our inner dialogue and self-image essentially. Our inner dialogue is what we say to ourselves. On a board, we talked about the negative things we say to ourselves and what we should do about it. Essentially we should try to modify the negative statements to make them less harmful and even positive. So one statement was “my friends don’t genuinely like me” and a phrase to combat it was “my friends spend time with me and appreciate me”. We also discussed body positivity. We talked about where body shaming comes from, and ways to be better to our bodies, and how to have a better relationship with eating and not bullying ourselves over our size.

     The highlight of the day for me, though, was when we practiced mindfulness and yoga. The idea of mindfulness was that the only way we can take care of ourselves is if we know how we feel. And when you spend some time with your brain and yourself you can go into the world more informed about how situations affect you. Then Laura led us through about an hour of yoga. We were deep breathing all the way through. We ended with a small chat about how possible it was to practice self-care. There were misconceptions about self-care. Like the accessibility of it. Because not everybody can get the nutritious foods they need, and not everybody can be happy all the time. But Chevy reminded us that self-care is only what's in our power, which was a lot. 

     At the end of the Wednesday, you could feel that the air was a bit more peaceful. And for me, I felt really happy because it takes strength and maturity to have all the conversations we did about insecurity and wellness but we all did it. And I think MAP is a safer and more productive space for that.

The Market Specialists Reflect

Dakota's Reflections: My specialist position this summer was on the Mobile Market. What I do involved moving around most of the time. We count the cash box, drive around to the stop for our mobile market, and set up displays of different kinds of produce. I would tell the new youth what we do on the mobile market, and what the whole point of it is. My role is important because it helps people who don’t have healthy food access, and who can't afford high-end expensive food. This role influenced me by showing me that everyone needs access and more healthy stores by them.
Communication is a struggle I had to overcome. I’m usually very shy when talking to people so it was hard opening up more to people. I have learned you have to communicate to get somewhere in life. My favorite moment is every moment. When we help each other, when we laugh, talk, joke around together - those are my favorite moments. Seeing customers happy with what they’re getting makes me happy too.

Win's Reflections:
My specialist position is on the mobile market. In the morning I help load the truck
with the days produce and then drive out to the site. Our sites are very diverse and community friendly.
Once we get to the site, we unload the tables, tent, produce, and start to set up. Then we have the market,
where I attend to customers, which is fun but nerve wracking. Although, I’ve gotten the hang of selling to customers, I don’t think I’ll get used to meeting new people. After the market, we pack up and do inventory and calculate how we did financially.
This position is important to me because I get to help out communities in need. It makes me feel like I have a special role in the world. I have learned that some people actually do care what they’re consuming and want to eat “real” food. This has helped me for my future, because I might want to start a business someday and working on the market showed me pricing and the other logistics. I enjoy working on the market and I look forward to more.

How to Make Zines!

If you run in the circles of Buffalo artists who are enthusiastic about self-producing you might’ve heard the word “Zine” (as in magaZINE) tossed around. Otherwise, the zine might be an abstract word you happened across today. According to the dictionary a zine “is a small-circulation self-published work”. Oftentimes made in smaller photocopied batches, zines are about as diverse as the communities they come from. Zines can be collages, handwritten poems, or more like small photo books. This week, MAP’s Citizenship and Organizing group took on the task of creating pages about topics they feel strongly about. But how does one go about making a zine and especially how does one do a social justice-type zine?

One: Figure Out Your Production Capacity

Do you have a fancy printer, glossy paper, and enough colored ink to make mistakes?
Do you have enough paper to print 20 zines?
Do you even have a printer? Here at MAP we were each given two half size sheets of paper to work on and print. Don't have a printer? Make a little set of these - they're the most accessible method of zine making because you only need a sheet of paper and scissors. Don't attempt a project that needs color if you don't have access to it.

Two: Decide What You Want to Do!
After you’ve decided what you're reasonably able to produce, let that guide what you decide to put on your pages. In my experience, this has started with finding something that gets my heart pumping. Monday’s work shift ended with a brainstorm prompted by the question: “what makes you passionate enough to fill two half pages with art?” Since we had a literal guidelines with the half pages, everybody was able to visualize what would work best on that space. On Tuesday, topics like black fashion, bullying, and art as self motivation were all decided on. And we had slightly different styles too, which leads me to the last and most important step...

Three: Get Stuff on Paper!You know your size, you know your topic, and now you gotta put it all together! A lot of the pages were collages but not all collages are the same. Some pages were only pictures while others blended text and images to convey their message. And make sure you have fun with this part! Then (if you want to) you can make a little title and then boom! You have produced your own portable piece of art. Distribute them to your loved ones, sell them at a zine fair, drop them in your local coffee shop - they're yours!


Amida Visits the Reinstein Woods

Early in the morning, me and the rest of the MAP youth visited the Reinstein Woods
Nature Preserve in Depew, NY. I wasn’t expecting the woods to be how they were.
But as soon as I got there it was awesome.
The lilies that were growing in the lake were precious to see. In Reinstein Woods I saw animals
that I’ve never seen before and ones I am more familiar with.
Some of the animals I saw were snakes, chipmunks, deer, monarch butterflies, and caterpillars.
The expression that I got from being in the woods and able to see the animals was full of joy.

Reinstein Woods is also home to so many different kinds of trees. I saw the oldest and biggest beech tree in New York State, and I was so sad that it is dead now. What really captured my attention was how Reinstein, the man who first bought the land, cared about the environment and how much this world would be better if we had more people like him.

The history of Reinstein Woods made me feel important and grateful to have visited the woods. Every time I visit the woods, I feel grounded and happy and that’s exactly how I felt after visiting Reinstein Woods. It was a great experience!

Meet Birch!

Hi, my name is Birch and this is my 4th summer here at Massachusetts Avenue Project (MAP).

I started here when I was 14, I was just leaving middle school. I had a budding interest in sustainable agriculture and a big mouth. I didn't know the difference between bulldozing everybody in a group project and leadership. I thought using my silly screenname to share with professionals made me “unique” instead of unprofessional. Also, I was not self-aware like I needed to be. However, that has largely changed.

Since I’ve been here I’ve grown as a leader, activist, and person. I still love gardening but as I engaged with other events, workshops, and training I found my interests had evolved. My first school year I worked in the farming group where I learned how to work well within a team. I also learned that you can’t turn a compost pile alone, so I had to be more diplomatic. That year I began attending the annual North Eastern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (NESAWG) conference. At my first conference, I made small talk with people twice my age about the dairy industry. The next year I found chicken rearing techniques didn't peak my interest, but social justice did. At the 2016 conference I attended agriculture workshops, but I was empowered to attend workshops exploring identity and social justice. I was ready to put down my shovel and pick up my protest sign.

I became really interested in the connections between food justice and racial justice over the course of that year. It was also a year of personal growth: we began a lot of travelling and when I attended workshops I slowly became more mature and aware of my place in the world and the privileges I do and don't have. I joined the Western New York Environmental Alliance (WNYEA) as a MAP representative. There, I am honing my leadership, time management, and communication skills. I am improving my professionalism, such as creating a non-silly email and checking it regularly. Over the most recent school year, I was heavily involved with the WNYEA and was able to travel to California for a conference!

Now in 2018, I’m realizing how much I’ve learned and changed going through the MAP program. At MAP, you don’t just see how wide your horizons can reach, you are able to explore how far I can go.

Meet Pepper!

Hi, my name is Pepper and I’m 16 years old. I have lived in Buffalo, NY my whole life. I am a junior at City Honors High School. So far, it is going better than my previous years of high school. 

I enjoy playing the violin, and I have played since I was in 4th grade. I have worked at MAP in the summer since 2016 but this year is my first time working at MAP during the school year. Working during the school year has been a good experience so far. Sometimes it is a challenge to work and go to high school at the same time, but it has not been too overwhelming. 

I love working at MAP because I am always learning new things and I have fun working here. My favorite part of the job is when we work on the farm in the youth garden. I am not totally sure what I want to study in college, but I want to find a career that will interest me throughout my life. As far as food goes, my favorite vegetable is green beans and my favorite fruit is blueberries. I plan to work at MAP during both the school year and the summer until I graduate high school.

Meet Gabe!

My name is Gabriel and I have worked at the Massachusetts Avenue Project for two years.  Being originally from the Philippines, food has always been a large part of my life, which created a well-rounded view of food that is integral to a healthy lifestyle. MAP is an excellent place for me as it allows me to fulfill my needs for engaging in social justice, establishing healthy work relationships, and exploring new and diverse issues, all while enabling me to maintain my strong focus on academics. Currently, I am a graduating junior at International-Prep, where I am preparing to enroll in college. I hope to study some form on engineering, while still engaging and participating in some of the many wonderful endeavors MAP promotes. I hope that I am able to give back to my community a heightened level of importance regarding social issues most people ignore and a furthered sense of inter-communal co-operation.