Posted by anhptran on January 26, 2011
Last weekend, the workforce circle gathered for the program retreat. We gathered to assemble our vision boards, share our stories, and take steps to reach our personal goals. Over teambuilding exercises such as the trust walk, we learned to lean upon each other and everyone in the group.
We recognized the differences in the room, and found similaries in our cultures, languages, and backgrounds. We connected to each other through a diverse web of gifts and talents.
Join us on our journey as we learn and grow together in the next 6 months! We will be meeting weekly in Wheaton, building relationships, building workforce skills, and building our network in Wheaton.
Posted in Economic Empowerment, Wheaton | Leave a Comment »
Posted by brandnuheavy on January 25, 2011
The Action Team met last Wednesday at Piney Branch Elementary School to plan for an exciting upcoming school event. On February 3rd the school will be holding its MSA Night. The Action Team envisioned and implemented the school’s first MSA Night in 2010 and the Team is ready to pull it off again!
The MSA is the Maryland School Assessment–a standardized test given to 3rd – 8th graders for reading, math and science achievement. The test provides educators, parents, and the public valuable information about student, school, school system, and state performance. The test is important to individual students because it can influence placement.
Members of the Action Team recognize the impact (for better or worse) of MSA performance on the lives of students. The Team also knows it is essential that parents (the school’s partners in education) are informed and empowered when it comes to the MSA. The MSA Night event is about providing the communication and tools necessary for both.
Piney Branch’s PTA is partnering with the Action Team to plan and carryout the event not only at the school, but also in the community at various apartment complexes surrounding the school.
Listen to Lusetha Taylor, the NAACP Parent Council Rep for the Piney Branch PTA, talk about her first experience as part of an Action Team meeting.
Posted in Long Branch, Piney Branch Action Team, School Transformation, Silver Spring | Leave a Comment »
Posted by meganmoriarty on January 24, 2011
Nathalie with her blank check
During the second week of the ESOL class at the Fields Apartments, our teachers Nathalie, Emily and Byron focused on really practical English — like filling out a check!
Nathalie made a large check for the class to look at and handouts for residents to practice writing on themselves. These types of skills are in high demand and the students were excited to learn more from Byron (since he works at Bank of America!).
We’ll have posts from our teachers later this week.
Posted in Community Network Building, Empowerment Circles, Wheaton | Leave a Comment »
Posted by brandnuheavy on January 18, 2011
More than 20 Long Branch residents participate in Network Night!
More than 20 residents (representing more than 9 countries of origin!) were in attendance at the Long Branch Network Night held at the TESS Center on January 13th. Newcomers and regulars came together for another evening of getting to know one another and practicing how to care for each other through mutual support.
Network Night kicks off with greetings in the "Hello Circle."
In the mutual support circle, people are given an opportunity to either request support, make an offer, or share an announcement. It is a moment of authentic exchange that works best when everyone puts energy into brainstorming for those requesting support and effort into finding opportunities to utilize and share offers and announcements.
Viviana shares into the mutual support circle.
In the circle, Viviana (originally from the Dominican Republic) shared that she and her family are in need of affordable housing. They are currently renting a home that is more than $2000 a month. They would like to buy a home, but the expensive real estate market and the need for large down payments make this a difficult dream to realize. Yemny, a Community Connector at the TESS Center, provided information on a program with the Housing Opportunities Commission that might be helpful. Brian, a Takoma Park resident, suggested that she consider buying a home that would also have space for her to take in a boarder and generate rental income. Genet, originally from Ethiopia, requested support around helping a friend secure a much-needed winter coat. Viviana offered that Progress Place has a Clothes Closet that provides winter clothing to men, women and children.
Participants browse info on available jobs and apartments.
Carol, a Takoma Park resident, had an offer and a request. She is a volunteer at the Electric Maid which bills itself as a community storefront. She shared that the venue would like to provide space for community meetings like the Long Branch Network Night, but is in need of more volunteers.
All of the mutual support moments provided opportunities for residents to receive from the pool of collective community knowledge and to give to that pool as well. El Salvador native Mario said, “I’ve lived here for 10 years and I’ve never been to a meeting like this!”
Posted in Community Connectors, Community Network Building, Long Branch, Neighbors Exchange, Silver Spring, Stories | Leave a Comment »
Posted by irakowler on January 13, 2011
After our introductory meeting last month, the Fields of Silver Spring English Class officially began last night in the community party room! We had over 30 community members take part– we even ran out of chairs by the end of the night. The first lesson focused on simple greetings and the alphabet. After practicing how to introduce ourselves, we all learned how to pronounce the letters in English. An intense game of hangman helped everyone remember the proper pronunciations.
Nathalie's team pulls out a victory in the final game of Hangman. The word? Snow!
Thanks to our great volunteer teachers, Nathalie, Emily, and Byron, the class was a rousing success! We will be meeting every Wednesday and Thursday from 7-9pm. Feel free to drop by!
See everyone again tomorrow!
Posted in Community Network Building, Coordinators, Economic Empowerment, Wheaton | Leave a Comment »
Posted by brandnuheavy on January 9, 2011
Solomon studies a picture from an Atlanta photo project.
Long Branch Neighbor Corps met on January 6th after a two-week hiatus. Even without formal meetings, members managed to stay in touch over the holidays through, of all things, CAMERAS.
LB Neighbor Corps is in the first phase of a PhotoVoice project. PhotoVoice is a method of storytelling using participatory photography. PhotoVoice projects have been conducted throughout the world to help community members represent themselves and achieve positive social change.
Corps members discuss the potential power of a PhotoVoice project in Long Branch.
During the holiday break, Corps members worked together to document their lives in Long Branch. Pairs of Corps members shared cameras and experiences over a two week period. At this evening’s meeting they brought their cameras (full of pictures to be printed) and an eagerness to learn more about the possibilities of photo-documentation.
Ronnie closes his eyes and listens as a picture is being described.
Ronnie told the group about a PhotoVoice project that he participated in in Atlanta, Georgia called Dirty Truth. That project had downtown Atlanta residents document the city’s vacant property challenges through pictures. Ultimately, the photo exhibit was the catalyst for $35 million dollars in investment in those same challenged neighborhoods.
The next step for the LB Neighbor Corps PhotoVoice project will be to have each member choose a single significant photo from among the pictures they’ve taken and tell the story behind it. As more and more stories are told, emerging themes will be identified. Those themes will be used to shape the targeted issues of the Long Branch PhotoVoice exhibit.
Keep checking this blog to follow the progess of the Long Branch PhotoVoice project and to see some of the pictures taken by Neighbor Corps members!
Posted in Community Network Building, Empowerment Circles, Long Branch, Neighbor Corps, Silver Spring, Stories | Leave a Comment »