A Day For Us: Practicing Self Care

A Day for Us: Practicing Self Care
By Birch K   

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.

Shevy 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”, Shevy 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 Shevy 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.

Zucchini Scallion Frittata Cups


Cooking Spray
7 Egg Whites
3 Eggs
2 TBSP  Half-and-Half
2 CUP  Zucchini, shredded
1 CUP Green Onion, Chopped
3 TBSP  Parmesan Cheese, grated
Salt and Pepper, taste


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Prepare 12 muffin cups with cooking spray.

2. Whisk egg whites, eggs, and half-and-half together in a bowl. Stir zucchini, green onion, and cheese into the egg mixture; pour into prepared muffin cups.

3. Bake in preheated oven until set in the middle, 30 to 35 minutes.


1. Great grab and go meal for a busy morning.

2. You may add or remove vegetables to this mixture to create your favorite flavor combination.

3. Perfect as a low calories snack between meals.

Recipe adapted from: 

This recipe is brought to you by Massachusetts Avenue Project! Find MAP’s Mobile Market to purchase items on your ingredient list by visiting www.mass-ave.org or follow @massaveproject and #foodthatmoves on your favorite social media site.

Meet Lucy!

Hi! I’m Lucy, a rising freshman at Tufts University. This summer at MAP, I worked on the farm as a Farm Specialist, where we did tons of fun, mildly labor-intensive, and some not-so-fun work. There's a lot of weeding involved, but we also got to harvest, start seeds, and water! I love watering, so my coworker Myo and I would often go out and water "Big Winter" (one of our more sizeable fields). We had to pull water up from the cistern [underground] and then lug it in 4 watering cans to the other side of the field. By the end, we could get the whole lot watered by hand in only 40 minutes! The other day we were harvesting tiger eye beans, which was probably my favorite day. Most of the beans were orange with a few purple swirls but once in a while we discovered some “mutant beans”: all purple with a few orange speckles. I love biology and genetics so this fascinated me to no end. I was ready to start cross-breeding them to come up with a new Mendelian ratio!

I learned so much working with Katie, our Farm Manager. She's so knowledgeable about plant life, and willing to share it. From the differences between cabbage and lettuce to “troubleshooting” my dying dill at home, I was really enjoying working around her. I had a few struggles to overcome, such as needing to stop being a perfectionist and working on being efficient and she was very patient with me as I adapted to daily life on the farm.

 I also had a bit of a secondary role which involves working with the new youth. All of us specialists have been through the summer program before, so we know what it's like. It's our job to set a good example for the others, so I try to come in every day with positive energy and good attentiveness, and I think it's working! I try to be open and friendly to others and it definitely pays off.
Being at MAP again reminds me of my passion for nature and for forming solid relationships with others. I enjoy working and learning here so much that I considered I'm considering applying for an ABLE Leadership position next summer!

I Am Like the Tree

I am like the tree
By Lay Dia 

I am like the tree, big tall and green
I need nourishment to survive each day
and to push through.
Trees need water, sunlight, and their
food to help them grow each day to
become the brightest they can be.
for my physical appearance and growth but also
nourishments for my mind, my spirit, and my soul.
I need love, friends, and families. I need
a  protector, a hope, the light. I am growing
new each day with the help of all. But mostly,
I became the person I am because of my faith and
the love Jesus had for me. I eat each day to survive,
my skin stretch, my bones get taller, and i become
more mature. Just like a tree it has a stopping point,
and that's the end of my life. I thank all who is
part of my life and [look forward to] the day I reunite with

I am a tree tall and green and I have lived a great life.

The sky was dark like how a blanket covers a bed

The sky was dark
By Dakota P

The sky was dark like how a blanket covers a bed. Birds were flying in a group like a herd of flamingos. The moon was shining like teeth after a good brush. The stars were blooming like how a flower expends in the ground. You could feel the wind blowing through your hair as you stare out at the moon. The water moves slowly, gently along the rocks. Close your eyes and feel like you're in bed. That’s the end of your days. Day and night, peaceful night. Now wake up, and now everything’s gone. Nothing. You realized you were locked up this whole time imagining what it would feel like if you were free.

Summer Corn Salad


8 ears corn
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 red onion (diced)
1/2 red bell pepper (diced)
1 avocado
(seeded, peeled and chopped)
4 tablespoons olive oil
6 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 lime


1. Whisk dressing ingredients together and set aside.

2. Add 1-2 inches of water to a large skillet. Bring to a boil. Add shucked corn ears and cook for 3-4 minutes, rotating to cook on all sides. Drain water.

3. Heat grill on medium-high heat. Brush corn lightly with olive oil and grill for a few minutes, rotating it as it cooks, until golden on all sides.

4. Allow the corn to cool and then cut corn off of the cob and add to a bowl. Add remaining salad ingredients and drizzle with desired amount of dressing (you may not use it all). Toss to combine. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


1. This is a quick, exciting dish to put together. Great after a long day at work. 

2. You may add this curry paste to another of your favorite stir fry sauces to intensify its heat.

3. Any eggplant variety can be substituted, just make sure to cut into small 2” pieces to keep the cooking time the same. Pieces without skin make cook faster or lose their shape a bit but the flavor will remain delicious.

Recipe adapted from: 

This recipe is brought to you by Massachusetts Avenue Project! Find MAP’s Mobile Market to purchase items on your ingredient list by visiting www.mass-ave.org or follow @massaveproject and #foodthatmoves on your favorite social media site.

Potato Salad with Yogurt, Arugula, and Dill


1 ½  Lb New Potatoes, cleaned

½ CUP Whole Milk Yogurt

¼ CUP Mayonnaise

2 Shallots, peeled and thinly sliced

2 CUP Arugula leaves, roughly chopped

1 Small Bunch Fresh Dill, finely chopped


1. Boil potatoes in salted water until fork tender (15-20 min), remove from water and slice into quarters.

2. Whisk together yogurt and mayonnaise and toss potatoes in mixture.

3. Toss in the rest of ingredients and season with salt and pepper.

4. Serve after chilling for at least an hour.


1. Best to let sit overnight before serving to let the flavors meld together.

2. Try adding a splash a vinegar to add a little zing to the dish 

3. Not a mayonnaise fan, no problem. Feel free doubling the yogurt and mixing in a little mustard for a different spin on this dish

Recipe adapted from: 

This recipe is brought to you by Massachusetts Avenue Project! Find MAP’s Mobile Market to purchase items on your ingredient list by visiting www.mass-ave.org or follow @massaveproject and #foodthatmoves on your favorite social media site.

Meet Nina!

Meet Nina!

Hi! My name is Nina. I’ve been working with MAP for 2 years and this summer I was a Farm to Table Specialist. I really enjoy cooking in the kitchen every Friday and I love cooking with the new youth. Being a mentor makes me feel like I'm teaching somebody a new skill every day. Helping new youth in the kitchen and creating culture menu is one of the best thing I learned just taking a leadership role. This summer I learned a bunch of different recipes that I tried at home. My favorite moment was when I made Puerto Rican dish called Pas de Mallarco. It’s like a sweet bread. Working in the kitchen this summer was one of the best experience I had working at MAP. I can't wait for more fun in the school year.

A Rose and Me

A Rose and Me
By Jerika A

una rosa es bonito
una rosa tiene
yo y la rosa omo

similar porque la
rosa es hermosa y
yo soy hermosa la
rosa tiene espina
y yo me enfosono

Rough translation----

a rose is beautiful
a rose has a
thorn in it,
and a rose is similar,
because the rose is beautiful and
I am beautiful, the
rose has a thorn and I am enriched

A Day In the Life of Mobile Market Specialists

A Day In the Life of Mobile Market Specialists
By Dakota P & Win T
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.

Alize Reflects After a Day of Self Care

Alize Reflects After a Day of Self Care
By Alize Q

Today, I felt like a new person with a new attitude, I used to look at myself and frown. I used to think that what people thought of me mattered. Today I peeled back my skin and realized that I am beautiful, that I shouldn’t let what people say bother or confuse me. I even found new words to say when I feel burnt out. I brushed aside all the negative words or things I say when I’m sad, like: I’m overwhelmed, insecure, I can’t breathe - and replaced them with positive words like: I’m beautiful, powerful, and full of life.

Self care plan:
  1. Be myself
  2. Say positive things about myself
  3. Change my mindset when I’m angry or sad

What I will do if I reach burnout:

  1. Listen to Shawn Mendes “In my Blood”
  2. Listen to BTS
  3. Confide in my friends

Amida's Summer Experience

Amida's Summer Experience
By Amida A

My name is Amida. This is my fourth summer with MAP, since the the summer of 2015. This summer, I was a "Citizenship and Organizing specialist" at MAP. This is my second time as a Citizenship and Organizing specialist. This year, however, the Citizenship and Organizing position that I’ve been working is totally different from last summer.

The activities and the work I’ve been doing have affected me positively. Each morning, my work was to assist the Youth Education Director in different topics or activities that we were doing in the Citizenship and Organizing group.

We read news every morning and the youth gave different feedback about the news stories. We learned about justice and injustice. We had testimonies and all the people in our group told their stories and we had to actively listen. We also made zines in all of the groups of youth we had rotating through the citizenship and organizing group.

I was a specialist, which means I helped mentor the new youth too. It was a fun experience. It reminded me of when I first started at MAP! My favorite moment in Citizenship and Organizing was making zines and listening to music -- a playlist that we chose as a group. We got to listen to everyone’s music and learn what they like to listen to. Working as a Citizenship and Organizing Specialist made me learn that I like to be a leader and enjoy mentoring people.

An Introduction to Making Zines

InTrO To ZiNe MaKinG
By Birch K

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!

Check out pages from our zines HERE!


Aye's First Time at a Nature Preserve

Aye's First Time at Reinstein Woods
By Aye Kar

Today's experience was awesome. We went to Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve. The cool thing about today's visit was I finally know what Poison Ivy looks like and how to identify it. The most beautiful thing I saw today is the Water Lily. It is so beautiful. It was a little bit scary to walk through the wood because of Lyme Disease. The smell of the nature was not that bad, I thought it was going to be stink and smelly. I also like the peaceful feeling nature makes me feel. It was calm and quiet. Other things that we saw today were butterflies and caterpillar. Butterflies are so beautiful. I’d love to visit this place again. It is so sad that we did not to see any big animals.

Amida Visits the Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve

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, I realized 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!

View more images from our trip HERE

Orientation! What is it Good For?

Orientation! What is it Good For?
By Birch K

“Why haven't we done any real work yet?”
Not something you’d expect to hear from a teenager, yet it’s something I wondered just about every day for the 2 weeks of my orientation. I heard it from some of my peers too. I personally had come to get my hands in the dirt, others were excited to get ‘real life’ work experience. Yet here we were doing name games and getting lessons every morning. It was valuable for sure, but I say this in hindsight. At the time I wanted to know why the curriculum involves so much learning? Why couldn't we just jump right in? It’s been 3 years and I’ve observed folks employed at MAP with different levels of prior knowledge, the value of the 2 weeks quickly becomes evident.

So what is the orientation? Every year, MAP employs roughly 25 new youth for a six-week summer employment program. And every year, two of those weeks are dedicated to a "youth orientation." Essentially, we spend two weeks giving new youth the knowledge they need to be familiar with MAP; so they’re comfortable doing the work they will be responsible for in the following weeks. Most people coming into the program do not immediately know what food justice is, how to make a kohlrabi, or what organic really means. Working at MAP and within the wider food justice community requires vernacular you won't necessarily just pick up if tossed into the work. Maybe you know how to cut kohlrabi safely (hint: cut it in half, peel, and julienne with a sharp knife), but that’s where the learning ends. However in those 2 weeks prior to jumping in you get to see the context you're working in. New youth are introduced to the idea of food as a part of a wider system; full of many working parts that worked together to have the kohlrabi end up on your cutting board. The idea of your food not beginning with your plate, or even a seed but with people. So, in the first two weeks, we get to know ourselves and the people around us a bit better. This year that took the form of a writing activity, we envisioned ourselves as parts of nature. Later there will be exercises to envision a perfect farm and work on MAP's farm, and when it is time to cut up that kohlrabi, it won't be a meaningless thing. The experience will be an accumulation of 10 days of learning.

Just walking into a kitchen, identity workshop, or farm isn't going to give you the whole experience of MAP. One could easily engage with every part of MAP without understanding how cooking, growing and food justice are related. Knowing the value of a piece of produce grown without chemicals allows for a more enriching learning experience. So while 10 days may seem like a large time investment to some, it pays off when you can walk out and see your plate in a whole new way.

Meet Pepper!

Meet Pepper!

My name is Pepper. I am sixteen, and I am a farm specialist here at MAP this summer. I work with
three other Farm Specialists and the Farm Interns to do jobs on the farm like weeding, transplanting, or harvesting crops, as well as other general farm maintenance.

When new youth come to work in the farm, it is important to be a mentor for them, especially because many have never worked at a farm or garden before. The other specialists and I encourage the new youth to get their hands dirty and show them the correct way to water, harvest, and weed. I think my role as a far specialist is very important because I get to introduce teens working at MAP to an environment that might be new to them. The farm at MAP is a great real life example of a type of farm tey learn about in other MAP work areas.

Being a farm specialist has changed a lot of the way I think about food and where it comes from. I feel much more knowledgeable about the production of food crops in general than I did before I had this specialty. It has made me think a lot about where my food comes from and how it was treated. Working on the farm has also made me more interested in growing my own produce as well.
Working on the farm can often be physically demanding, which is occasionally a challenge. When I first began working on the farm, I had a lot of sore muscles. However, while the work is a lot of physical labor, it is often calming and relaxing mentally.

Overall, working as a farm specialist has positively influenced me and has been 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.

A Walk in the Woods

A Walk in the Woods
By Birch K
So today we went the Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve,  which happens to be my favorite nature preserve. A nature preserve is “a protected area of importance for wildlife, flora, fauna, which is reserved and managed for conservation." We got an hour-long tour. It was essentially a real long walk along wooded trails. It was a gorgeous day and my group had a lot of fun.

We began at an open play area which used natural materials like logs. From there, our guide Gabe told us what it meant to be a reserve on more technical terms. He asked us to imagine what this are looked like 300 years ago. Basically the land was not colonized so there were only Seneca Nation folks in the area. One hundred years later the place was farmland, and then in 1932, the land was purchased by a man named Victor Reinstein. So, he then planted around 30,000 trees, dug a pond and marsh system, planted native species and let the space flourish. Later it became a state-owned preserve and now folks like us are able to visit a relatively wild place.

My group took a route through some heavier woods around a pond and to the recreation center. We all enjoyed something unique about the trip. Nautica and Win were enthralled at entire ponds covered in an invasive lily species. Gabe was kind enough to fish one out for us. I enjoyed watching people who came to work at MAP less than a year ago answer Gabe’s questions. For example, when he asked my group what an invasive species is, without missing a beat Laydia correctly answered. Later on, my group talked and learn about how to identify mint’s relatives (square stems), invasive reeds (fuzzy stem fibers) , and how do I identify poison ivy (*you’ll know in  about 20 minutes). I found it really funny that we are trained to think of places like this as a waste of space and resources.  I loved being there with others to learn on an hour-long walk. You can walk and feel like you are by yourself yet you're among hundreds of healthy plants and insects. You can take the deepest breaths possible because it's all fresh air.

*I’m kidding, they look like little mittens and you can avoid the rash by washing with soap

View more images from our trip HERE

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.