When I was in 8th grade we received a letter in the mail from the Durham Public School System saying I’d been granted admission into the district’s art magnet school, Durham School of the Arts. I was furious. I hadn’t applied, it was my mother’s idea, and the idea of losing my friends and all the work I’d put into socializing myself the past three horrible middle school years was devastating. I tore the acceptance letter up and fumed. I had struggled to make friends when we’d moved from southern Florida back to Durham, and I couldn’t imagine starting over at a new school. Fortunately for me, the decision wasn’t mine to make and in August of 2000 I started high school at DSA.
That same year my younger brother, Reid, started 6th grade at DSA. It was over the next 7 years that he (both of us, really), fell in love with DSA, the culture, the teachers, our fellow students, and the community. It was also over these years that he formed close friendships with Ellen Duda, Dylan Hammond, and Eliza Bordley. And it was with these friends, many moons ago, that a plan was hatched to take a country wide tour in an old school bus.
Just a few weeks ago, almost twelve years after they all began their DSA journey, they started that bus tour. Their nonprofit organization, Sol Food, set off on a 6 month tour of the continental U.S. that will cover much of the states and many, many miles. They’re stopping in communities big and small throughout the country, creating square space gardens, working on farms, giving workshops, and exploring.
Their third stop was Baltimore. They came at the end of June and stayed for a whole week. The Museum hosted a few events in their honor (including a community day) and then they launched into a week of different projects. They build raised beds and decorated at the Jonestown community garden, Exeter Garden. They spent a day at Kayam Farm helping and learning and teaching. They went to the Catonsville 4th of July parade. They visited the Baltimore Free Farm and helped celebrate my birthday.
It probably goes without saying how amazing I think Sol Food is and how proud I am of their choice to do this service project. I’ve known all of them for a long time (Reid, obviously for all of his 24 years) and it makes me so happy that they’ve found a way to follow their dream and create something valuable. They’ve overcome odds, found funders, organized a massive service project and trip, and are still smiling as they do it. I strongly encourage you to check out their website, solfoodmobilefarm.org to follow their progress and if they’re coming to a town near you, check them out. You won’t regret it.
from left: ellen, dylan, eliza, reid
Emily17.07.2012 at 09:27
Whoa, when you mentioned Sol Food in your birthday post, I totally didn’t realize it was these DSA kids. Amazing! Off to check out their website — thanks for sharing!
Hope19.07.2012 at 16:08
I love alternative/charter school type educational options! This is the perfect story of how non-traditional education should be available everywhere! Great post, and I’ll be following you!