Public Spirit, March 2015

April Showers Bring May Flowers!

…as well as more service projects, training opportunities, and let us not forget – SUNSHINE! Here at the InterCorps Council we thought we would focus on just that, and bring you articles on gardening, outdoor activities and upcoming events with the InterCorps Council. A few other hidden gems hidden within this edition of Public Spirit include pranks to pull on April Fools Day (best of luck, friends!), and an AmeriCorps Week recap. While mother nature might still be playing tricks with our sunshine-craving minds, we promise to give you yet another snazzy Public Spirit this month. You can count on that !

 

AmeriCorps Week:

The Good, The Great, The Success! 

After 1,000 cups of coffee were drank. Numerous emails were zapped back and forth. Friendships were made, and alliances were forged. All the joy, heartbreak, and eventually, glorious celebration was to bring AmeriCorps members quite possibly thebest AmeriCorps week ever featured in Minnesota.

Once all was said and done, this past AmeriCorps week was the best one yet.

The celebratory week started Monday with an all-day professional development conference featuring sessions on leadership, social media, financial literacy and creativity. Burritos were eaten, learning took place, and attendance was through the roof! Later in the day, Food Grouplocated in New Hope, Minnesota was able to reap the rewards of service from 10 members. In a mere 2 hours, 1,580 pounds of bread was packaged. What should really impress you is the bread is going to feed 4,213 people.

Tuesday brought a grant writing workshop where attendees learned the ins and out and tricks of the trade. Who knows, perhaps the next Great Grant Writing King or Queen was formed during this workshop?

On Wednesday, AmeriCorps partnered with Dress For Success in Saint Paul, Minnesota. This incredible organization collects donated clothes and gives them to women going back into the workforce who cannot afford the proper attire. Seven members and two alums were able to attend, and those nine members/alums worked hard for two hours. In that time, they sorted through 17 boxes to find fashionable clothes and shoes so these ladies can walk into the office feeling confident and lookingfly. Later in the evening, the competitive spirits of numerous AmeriCorps members and friends were running free at the Trivia Night hosted at O’Gara’s in St. Paul. Did you know Muhammad Ali turned 73 this year? Trivia night attendees now do.

Dodge, dip, duck, dive, and…dodge.These five words were the basis of the strategy used by nine teams in our Dodge for Hunger Dodgeball Tournament held onSaturday. The athletic talent on display rivaled that of an NBA Championship game (or close to it). The best part? The tournament doubled as a service project, and a total of 215.4 lbs. of food was donated (189 individual items or $1,077 worth of food) to Volunteers Enlisted to Assist People (VEAP)! Attendees gave it their all in the attempt to bring glory to one’s team. Two teams throughout the day proved they were at the pinnacle of the sport; Team GFF and Anishinabe Team both went undefeated. The championship game was electrifying! The strategy in play was minimal, the dodging abilities were above par, but the hearts of the players were clearly beating (because they are alive). In the end, Team GFF was able to outlast the strong barrage from Anishinabe Team and take home the trophy!

The InterCorps Council would like to thank all of you awesome AmeriCorps members for helping make this week of recognition and service a huge success.As the year of service continues, keep your head and remember, you are making a difference!

 

Sun’s Out, Minnesotans Out!

Sunshine…remember that? How about lakes you can’t walk on, and what it feels like to not have to wear socks? As us Midwesterners slowly begin to wake up from our months-long winter hibernation, we may have forgotten what it’s like to be outside without shaking in our winter boots. Don’t you worry, the InterCorps Council has you covered! Included in this article are ideas for those days the sun decides to give a sneak peek of summer. It’ll get here eventually!

The sun’s out-let’s go outside and get active!

  • For those of you who have been able to stick to a new year’s resolution to get healthier, it’s time to test it out! Check out this link to see an upcoming list of races around the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota!
  • If you’re looking for something less competitive and cheaper, try out one of these hiking trails!
  • If you’re looking for volunteer opportunities that will let you also soak up some sun rays, check out these opportunities with the DNR. Volunteer activities include stream clean-up, plant removal, and working the booth at upcoming events!

Let’s get creative!

  • Let your inner child come out and play-buy sidewalk chalk and create a masterpiece similar to the picture on the right!
  • Read a book outside.
  • Buy some colored pencils or paint and recreate the nature you see outside!
  • Grab your camera and go on an impromptu nature/city photo shoot.

 

Let’s get social!

  • Call up someone you haven’t seen for a while and go for a stroll!
  • Join a community kickball league (or other sports!) as an individual or with a team and make new friends!
  • Call up some friends or family and have a potluck picnic-everyone brings a dish to share!
  • Go make some animal friends at the Como Zoo! Admission is free, but a donation of $3 is recommended.

Just like Journey tell us to, Don’t Stop Believing spring weather will come and stay! Have fun with these ideas, and look out for an article next month featuring going to the theatre on a budget.

 

Upcoming Events!

Service Projects

Volunteer with Second Harvest Heartland Saturday, April 4th from 12:30-2:30 pm.

Assist with repackaging bulk foods and into consumer size packages, sorting and salvaging damaged products or food items, sorting food from food drives and donations, or labelling cans.

Click here to sign up!

Trainings

Attend the AmeriCorps Alumni Panel Thursday, April 16th from 6-8 pm.

This panel will include AmeriCorps members from a wide range of programs (College Possible, Promise Fellows, VISTA etc.) to share their lessons learned and experiences post-AmeriCorps. The evening will begin with a panel focused on the transition to whatever is next, the job search, and tips for sharing your AmeriCorps experience with non-service members.  It’s a time to get your questions answered by those who have been in your shoes. After the panel there will be the opportunity to have small group discussions with panelists and to review resumes. Be sure to bring your resume!

Click here to sign up!

Mayor’s Day of Recognition for National Service 2015!

To highlight the great impact of service programs contributing to the vitality of Saint Paul, Minneapolis, and our region, and to honor and celebrate Mayor’s Day of Recognition for National Service, the City of Saint Paul is compiling a video snapshotof a single day of service shot completely by national service members.

What do you love about service? Who do you serve and what keeps you motivated?From March 26-April 2, 2015, we’re asking all service members in the Twin Cities and the region to send us a snapshot of their service year. Use upload password MDOR15. On Mayor’s Day of Recognition for National Service, we’ll reveal “One Day of National Service” with your incredible entries, as local businesses also share the love by giving away small treats to thank you for your video submission and your service!

Questions? Contact us at ariel.sehr@ci.stpaul.mn.us and be sure to visit our website for more information.

 

April Fools-The Joke’s on You!

The start of April not only brings warmer weather, but also the one day of the year where the pranks and jokes are on an all-time high…that’s right, April Fool’s Day! Some people dread this day, while others rejoice in its presence. The InterCorps Council sent out a survey to find out some pranks people have done; here are a few of the best:

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“I told my dad that I dropped his super expensive camera off a balcony in Florida during spring break when I was only 10. I learned quickly not to joke about expensive technological devices with him.”

“They put a rubber band on a sink hose so when I turned on the faucet I gotwater sprayed at my face.”

“My sister, mom, and I would always team up on my dad every year for April Fools when we were growing up. We would even get his boss and coworkers in on the jokes. He expected it every year, so one year we decided to use the expectation as a joke. We planned nothing, but had people walk up to him at work throughout the day, looking concerned, to ask how things were going or how he was feeling. I called him to make sure everything was alright before my sister quickly grabbed the phone so I didn’t ‘give anything away.’ We never actually did anything to him that day, but his expectation and fear of what was coming was so great that it’s still the best April Fools we ever did.”

Many people expect April Fool’s Day to be one big joke, so when something important actually happens, people don’t believe them; for example:

“Two friends of mine got engaged on April Fool’s Day. It was the best prank because no one believed they were actually engaged!”

“A family friend of mine was born on April Fool’s Day, and when she was born, her parents called their families to tell them they had the baby. No one believed them until a couple days later.”

Are you wanting to do something this year but still aren’t sure what to do? Here are a few ideas the likes of Ursula and Cruella de Vil would be jealous of:

  1. Get Skittles, M&Ms, and Reese’s Pieces and mix them all in one bowl. Set the bowl out for your friends or coworkers–when they grab a handful of the candy, they’ll have a mixture of all three flavors in their mouth (gross)!
  2. Line a whole hallway with paper cups that are close enough together that no one can get through without stepping on them.
  3. Make signs that say “[Insert famous person who has a distinct voice] Contest” and put your friend’s phone number on it (Chewbacca is our favorite!). Have the sign say “leave a voicemail with your best impersonation” and say there is a reward for the best one. Post them at random locations, and your friend will get a bunch of weird messages. See the picture on the right for an example, and let the hilarity ensue!

Even if you don’t normally play jokes on your friends and family on April Fool’s Day, it is never too late to start. Just be sure to keep it safe and respectful, and stay on high alert throughout the day!

 

A Beginner’s Guide to Gardening

Spring has sprung! This is an exciting time of year for those wanting to grow plants. Not only that, Earth Day is just around the corner (April 22nd)! and we want to devote some of our time, and your attention, to gardening and greening projects.

Beginning Your Garden

To begin any gardening project, here are some things you’ll need:

Seeds

Soil

Containers/Space to Plant

Water

Sunlight

Decide what you want to grow. Are you planting herbs/vegetables to supplement your cooking or looking out for brethren bee by planting beautiful pollen plants? You can obtain seeds from produce by washing and letting them dry (e.g. peppers, squash, or pumpkins). You can also buy them at grocery stores, home-improvement depots such as Menards or Home Depot, or local garden shops. Hard-to-find or heirloom seeds can be found at online seed banks and many local co-op grocery stores.

Many plants can be rooted from clippings by placing them in a cup of water. Some that work well include cabbage, lettuces, cilantro, basil, green onions and rosemary.

Don’t forget about edible tubers and bulbs such as potatoes, garlic, carrots and onions. They store well and begin to grow with no care whatsoever. You’ve probably noticed garlic starting to sprout when kept at room temperature. Nature is truly amazing! Just toss them into the ground and keep them watered.

Gardening with Garbage

You will need potting soil and containers (if you decide to start seedlings indoors).

An easy thing to use are empty food containers for seedling and herb containers. Here are some items to get started with:

  • Soup Cans – Carefully remove lid, rinse, and poke holes in bottom for water drainage (such as a nail and hammer).
  • Egg Cartons – Plastic is great for retaining moisture.
  • Milk Cartons – An easy way is to half-gallon soy milk and use the carton to start seeds by laying them on their side, cutting out one side using a box-cutter, and filling with dirt.
  • Dairy Containers – Seeds can be started in small yogurt cups, while quart-sized yogurt/cottage cheese containers are full-sized pots. Plastics retain water well (important for hot, dry summers), where clay pots breathe well.
  • Produce Bags – When starting seeds you need to keep the soil moist – place seed starters inside produce bags to retain moisture. Saran wrap also works.

Healthy Watering

Water is essential for all life. But remember, where a little water never hurt anybody, a lot can kill your plants. When watering plants in containers, allow soil to dry to the touch in between watering sessions, and then water liberally. Plants in yard gardens shouldn’t have an issue with over-watering, as there’s generally good water drainage.

Watering is best during the early morning or late afternoons when the sun is least bright. Life adapts to nature, and little sun is available while it rains. Plants evolved in such a way that they absorb sun when available (midday), and rain/moisture when available (early morning/late afternoon). Water on leaves with bright light can burn them, as water acts like a magnifying glass.

 

Here are additional sources to further your gardening/greening projects:

The Old Farmer’s Almanac

Pollen Plants

http://feedabee.com will send free seeds for a bee-friendly garden!

Online Seed Bank

Earth Day Celebrations!

Pinterest: for all of your DIY/Upcycle garden projects.

With that, we’ll leave you to your gardening. Just remember: be creative, and if you have any questions, the internet is a tremendous source for all your gardening questions. Happy Earth Day!

 

Have You Heard the Big News?!

Two Minnesota programs are part of a national campaign to raise the awareness of national service – College Possible and Reading Corps.  Two members from each corps traveled to California this week to be part of the launch – and the Public Service Announcement seen below is part of the campaign! 

The campaign, called Serve a Year, is an effort that is uniting an unprecedented group of partners from Hollywood and tech leaders to social media and television stars to finally make a service year a mainstream idea.

Check out this hilarious Public Service Announcement featuring Jimmy Kimmel and Chelsea Clinton!

To view the list of all ICC members, including the names of the Communications Committee who bring you your monthly Public Spirit, click on this link.

That’s all, folks! Let’s all keep our fingers crossed for some sun, and until next time, stay classy!