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.

Meet Nina!

My name is Nina. I was born in the Congo and went to Kenya because of the war.
I finally came to the United States in 2014. When I arrived in the U.S., it looked different from everything I ever saw; the tall buildings, the people, and the food. I’ve been here for three years. I got involved with MAP when I started seeing my sister going to these cool events and saving money. I asked her how I could get a job too, and she said I have to be fourteen in order to work. Working at MAP was my goal. I turned fourteen and now this is my first year working at MAP. I love going to the speaker series and other field trips because I get to know more about what people are trying to do to help the community and also influence the world.

I’m a freshman at McKinley High School and I really enjoy going to school and working after school. I have good grades and I often finish my work at school. I want to be able to finish high school because my parents never got to graduate. After I graduate, I want to go to University at Buffalo and study medicines because I really want to feel like I impact someone’s life. I love jumping rope when I am not at school or working. I always feel like I am flying when I jump rope. Getting my education is the most important thing in the world because I feel like without education I have nothing. Having an education could give me more opportunities and will help me make money. When I earn money, I love to keep it for something special like buying my favorite snack. I love eating a donut.

Meet Lay Dia!

My name is Lay Dia and I am 17 years old. I was born in Thailand. When I was seven, my family decided to move to America to start a new life. Life in Thailand was great and lively but my parents wanted us to have a better future so they brought us to American. They have sacrificed a lot for me and my sisters so I am very thankful. I moved to Buffalo in 2007 and started a new life here. I continue to live in Buffalo and I have learned and experienced many new things here.

During the fall of 2007, my friend introduced me to her job. I told her I wanted to get a job and she told me about MAP. I went through the interview process and I am really glad that they saw potential in me and accepted me to the program. I have been working with MAP for almost four months. I love to work at the garden and draw. However, I don't always enjoy writing in MAP unless I am interested in the topic. 

I go to Hutch Tech and I am a junior so it is really stressful and important year for me to focus on my education. Sometimes working and going to school at the same time can be challenging because by the time I come to work I am already worn out from school so I get really tired. Tiredness and laziness is often a challenge for me so it is my goal to stay healthy so I don't get worn out.

School is the main focus of my life and I am really focused. My goal for my academic portion is to do really well so that I can have a bright future. I plan on graduating high school, going to college, getting a profession that I enjoy, and spending the rest of my life traveling. 

Outside of school, I love to sleep, watch movies, and babysit my seven month old baby sister. She is really cute so I really adore her. I love to feed her and carry her. 

My favorite food to eat are instant ramen noodles. I know it is unhealthy but it tastes so delicious. I love to purchase instant ramen noodles so I guess I am giving back to the community since my purchases benefit business people to help our economy. I spend I a lot of my money on food.

There are many goals I have in life. One of my most important goals is to give back to my community by helping others.When I become a doctor, I want to go back to my country and help improve the healthcare system. Another goal I have for myself is to grow as a person intellectually. I also want to  travel and cherish the memories and knowledge I learn while traveling. This is the reason why the money I earn from MAP is saved for my future plan. 

I love to eat and so does my family. When I was younger, back in Thailand, my family loved to plant bananas and pick bamboo shoots. We sometimes boil the bamboo and eat it with fish paste. My mom also cooks bamboo with pork and it is really unique and delicious. The memories of my family and our love for food is something that I really cherish.

I have lived in the United States for almost ten years and each day my experiences help me grow as an individual. I learn more about myself and those are details that I want to share with you guys.

Meet Thaint!

Hi, my name is Thaint and I am 16 years old. I’ve been in the United States for about 13 years now. Buffalo has been the first city for my family and probably the last for them, but not for me. My biggest goal is to definitely travel, whether it’s a million places or one.

I’m from Burma, well, the border between Burma and Thailand. My parents came here mostly to live a better life.

I’ve been at MAP for the last four years. To be honest, I first came for money, and I ended up staying for the staff and friends. I go to Hutch-Tech and have been there for three years. With the money I earn, I save for traveling purposes.

My favorite vegetable is spinach and kale right now. My favorite part of the food system is distribution.

When I was a kid, me and my family would sit around and make food and just chat over food. Lastly, my goal is to be happy and travel.

The most important thing in the world right now is togetherness. Working at MAP helps me get together with people from different cultures and collaborate.

Interior Work Begins in #OurFarmhouse!

#OurFarmhouse Construction Update: 
Interior Work Begins!

This is such an exciting time at the Farmhouse with "all hands-on deck" inside now that the building is weather tight. Windows and doors were installed last week and the waterproof membrane on the roof finished just in the nick of time before we got all that snow last week. Framing is near completion on the first and second floor, with the third floor finishing up next week. 
Farmhouse Construction Update:
  • HVAC, plumbing, and electrical rough-in is near completion.
  • Stairs to the third floor have been installed and framing is nearing completion.
  • Weatherproof membrane has been secured to the roof.
  • Boarding of interior walls has begin.

Photos of the construction progress are always available HERE.

Meet Win!

My name is Win and I was born in a little village in Thailand. I came to the United States when I was about two years old and I have stayed for almost 13 years with my family. I started working with MAP in 2016 so it has been almost three years. I initially started my work with MAP because I needed money but stayed because of what I learned. My favorite thing about working with MAP is learning. I love learning about the problems in the world and the solutions to them. As much as I like working at MAP, there are few things that I dread. The thing I like least about working at MAP is farming on a summer day and sitting in a long boring meeting. High school is hard but it's even harder with a job and being only 15, the biggest challenge/issue with that is time management. I go to Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts. I am a sophomore there and I cannot wait to get out of there. The goal is to graduate as a junior and get a head start on my nursing career. That's the most important thing to me at the moment.

Meet Aye!

So, who am I? To start off, my name is Aye. I am 16 years old. I am currently a sophomore student at Hutch-Tech. I speak Karen and English and I have lived in the United States for almost 7 years. To go deeper into my background, I was born in a refugee camp on the Thai-Myanmar border. My family fled from the civil war in our home country which led us to the U.S. I’ve lived and grew up in a refugee camp for most of my life. I love this country, the United States, dearly and look forward to becoming a citizen. I’m always thankful and grateful that my parents brought us to the U.S. because the people here are caring and friendly. This country provides me the best education I could ever ask for. It is hard to get an education in refugee camp. This is a little information about my background.

I started working at MAP in October of 2017. So far, I’ve enjoyed working here. My favorite part of the job at MAP is working in the farm, especially when we planted the garlic. I also encounter challenges on the farm, such as picking weeds, but working on the farm is still my favorite part of working here. MAP is my first step that will lead to my career job. Although I may not be sure what job field I would like to be in the future, I have some interest in working as a dentist, elementary school teacher and maybe a Registered Nurse.

Working at MAP gave me the opportunity to save up my money for my trip back to my home country. I always want to visit my family back home and brag about how wonderful America is.

There are a lot of things I like to do when I’m free. I like to research things about my background such as my language, country, and people. I also like to research and get to know more about other ethnic groups and their languages. I’ve been editing at Wikipedia for maybe more than a year. I only edit the S’gaw Karen language page so don’t worry about me messing up other pages at Wikipedia. I edit the S’gaw Karen language page because there was nothing on the page when I first discovered it. I speak that language and have knowledge about that language so I started adding information to the page. I look through other pages as an example to building the S’gaw Karen language article page. I have not added a lot when comparing to other languages articles but I added probably 10 times the information that it originally had in the article. I am proud of myself for doing that.

My favorite food is ramen noodles and spicy mango salad. My favorite vegetables are kidney beans and broccoli.

My favorite part of the food system is the producer or production because without them we wouldn’t have as much food as we have today. For example the farmers work so hard to produce many kind and many varieties of vegetables and raise a lot of animals for the community to eat.

So there’s a time when me and my family had to walk through the snow and get groceries and food. At the time, we were new to the country and we were not used to the new environment but we needed to get food. Our whole family walks to the store so we could carry more food home. The weather was also bad. It was a struggle but I don’t think it is as bad as running away from the soldier and crossing dangerous rivers to safety. This is an example of when me and my family encounter challenges when it comes to getting food. There may be challenges my family may had encounter in refugee camp in order to get food and survive but I don’t remember any.

Meet Adian!

Hello! My name is Adian. I am a freshman at Tapestry, and I am 15 years old. I live in Buffalo currently. I have worked at MAP for a year now.

The year I graduate I will plan out my future, starting with college. My goal in life is to be an engineer.

I have been happy to work at MAP because MAP gives teens a job that is great and we learn about food justice issues and the food system. We learned about climate change and we also went on tours to Ole’s Farm.

The goals after college are to get a steady job and help out by showing and informing people not to eat unhealthy things, but instead to eat something healthy like salad or carrots. As I said, engineering will be my goal if the steady job doesn’t go right. So in order for me to achieve my goals I will help by telling people to eat less unhealthy foods. I can also achieve my goal by finishing my education up and getting a degree in mathematical engineering.

Soliegh visits L+J Maple at the Elmwood Bidwell Market

During our visit to the [Elmwood] Bidwell Farmers Market, me and my partner interviewed the man at the stand for L & J Maple. His name was Jim and he and his wife, Linda, are the owners and workers for their maple syrup business. They own 260 acres of maple trees, each of which has about 10 trees. They collect the sap every day, and boil it down in their sugar shack. On average, it takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. They sell maple syrup in many different amounts, ranging from 1 pint to 1 gallon. They also sell maple candy, which is just sugar and maple syrup, pressed into maple leaf-shaped molds. they sell them on a table and have their other products on display in different types of glass jugs. I'm not sure about the particulars of how they produce their products since maple syrup production is pretty straight forward method that you can't make a lot of changes to and decisions on.

L & J Maple Farm is located in Alleghany County at 11593 Lapp Road, Fillmore, NY 14735. Their products are available exclusively at the Bidwell Market, on a seasonal basis.

Raising the Roof at #OurFarmhouse

#OurFarmhouse Construction Update:
Raising the Roof at the Farm!

Earlier this month the final roofing SIPs were set in place, which was exciting to watch! With the installation of these roof panels the construction crew will now have a weather tight building to work in. This will allow for a number of things to get going, including the installation of the windows, electrical, plumbing, and framing completion. 

Farmhouse Construction Details:
  • The roofing SIPs have been installed! 
  • The building is being completely wrapped in Tyvex weatherproofing material.
  • The crew has begun dry-walling the rated interior walls (i.e. the Kitchen), so that they can be furred out for electrical work.
  • Now that the roof is up the windows are getting installed.
  • Rough framing of the first and second floor are complete.

Photos of the construction progress are always available HERE

Farmhouse Construction: We are growing up to the sky!

  • A crane came to the site and they installed Flitch Beams (a compound beam made of a steel plate(s) between two or more slabs of wood) and third floor trusses.
  • The Tyvek Building Envelope is up on the building. This product is an essential line of defense against air, water, and wasted energy.
  • The roof SIPs (structural insulated panel) are expected to be installed this week.

This is a good week to drive by and check out the progress!

Rebekah Williams to Join HEAL School of Political Leadership

MAP's Youth Education Director Rebekah Williams has been selected for the HEAL Food Alliance 2017-2018 School of Political Leadership cohort.  This is HEAL's first ever cohort, which will support 10 talented individuals working to create inclusive, democratic food and farm systems.  Rebekah looks forward to this year, as she continues to work at MAP leading the effort to bring the Good Food Purchasing Program to Buffalo, while participating with HEAL to connect local food policy work and people to efforts going on around the country.