Olivia Holcomb and I were lucky enough in the Fall to have gotten ourselves involved in the same internship, and now that we are deep in the planning for it (the internship consists of managing the already existing vegetable gardens at Rockridge Retirement Community, designing new raised beds for more gardening, and creating a guidebook including plant information and a comprehensive management plan for the gardens) I am incredibly thankful for having a teammate as great as Olivia. We have been able to get together at Rockridge, coffee shops, and our homes to work together, and then also put in time individually to make progress on a project that has us both really excited.
Just a couple of days ago we convened at Olivia’s apartment, with the broad goal of working on the project. This seems to me the way the internship has gone of late for the both of us: each of us having a serious desire to put time and effort towards developing plans for the gardens, but feeling like we didn’t know where to begin. On Monday when I went to her place, we shuffled around from the living room to the kitchen, taking on pieces of the project together and individually, and without a doubt feeling like we were doing good things. However, there was still a feeling of squirminess that was apparent in each of us. Thank the Heavens at some point Olivia looked at me and said something to the point of “Ian I need something real, something I can hold and write on and touch.” Her statement was in response to the fact that a lot of what we have been doing has been on the computer. We have been in email contact with the Volunteer Director at Rockridge, Abrah Dresdale at GCC and now have multiple Google Docs that contain most of our planning and guidebook efforts to date. What happened after she said that was kind of hilarious, and incredibly productive all at once. We each finished the tasks we were working on and then proceeded to grab a stack of computer paper and spread out across her kitchen floor creating a sort of storyboard/outline of the guidebook and all of the individual pieces of our larger mission.
When she proposed the idea I thought it was really great and could tell it was exactly what she needed, so naturally I was all for it. What I didn’t realize is how invaluable it would be to me. It was EXACTLY what I needed too. The outline we created is amazingly quite thorough. Not that I didn’t expect it to be, but rather I didn’t have any specific expectations because it happened so fast. We were planning on taking 20 minutes to finish what we were already doing, then move to the storyboard. Less than ten minutes later we were spread out across the kitchen floor 5 pages in to what became an organized and nearly complete “guidebook” for ourselves to create a guidebook.
Sometimes all it takes is a shift. Sometimes all it really takes is trying something different, and then fireworks go off (appropriately we were listening to a musical group named “Explosions in the Sky”). Sometimes all it takes is a friend, a partner to collaborate with, someone to shake you and say “this way isn’t working! Let’s try this!” Boom before you know it you’re making more progress in 45 minutes than you have made in three weeks. Teamwork is beautiful. It’s enjoyable, it’s tough, it’s inspiring (Olivia blows me away with her creativity) and it’s helpful. I really feel blessed. Since the beginning of this internship Olivia and I have been dumbfounded by this opportunity. I couldn’t think of a better culminating project for either of us. I just graduated and she is nearing the end of her Farm and Food Systems Associates Degree, and this endeavor brings together all of the things we have been learning about and allows us to practice them in a setting where we can give back. It feels appropriate. Since I started at GCC I have found myself increasingly becoming a part of a larger community. One that is really, really beautiful.