Public Spirit, February 2016

Love is in the Air

Not only because Cupid will be taking aim the 14th, but also for those who helped make the InterCorps Council’s first major event – MLK Day – a success! We had 131 AmeriCorps members put in over 440 volunteer hours on MLK Day at 5 service locations. Together, we sorted, organized, and packaged over 75,000 pounds of food, organized 5,000 pounds of clothing and household items, and helped set up an event that served over 800 people! In other words, we made a definitive impact and helped answer the President’s call to service and make it a day on, not a day off! And this is only scratching the surface of the power of community organization and the impact AmeriCorps members have on a daily basis. Thank you again to our volunteers – this one goes out to you.

Check out a couple pictures from MLK Day below, and keep reading to find cheapways to have fun this winter, how to deal with the highs and lows of a service year, the Greek’s many different forms of love, and an AmeriCorps highlight!


Check out the rest of our MLK Day photos on our Facebook page!


Love, the Greeks, and AmeriCorps

As Valentine’s Day approaches, love seems to be on our minds more. In modern times, we use the word love freely. We love a certain movie, love an outfit, and send our love via email on a regular basis. In contrast, the ancient Greeks had over 30 different words for love, and spent a good amount of time debating the characteristics and expressions that accompanied them. The most common terms for love in ancient Greece were AgapeErosPhiliaLudusStorgēPragma and Philautia: many are present in your AmeriCorps service!


Agape stands for brotherly love, charity; the love of God for man and of man for God.Selfless love. This was a love extended to all people. As an AmeriCorps member, the work you do to improve communities is an expression of Agape love. Whether teaching a child to read, helping the homeless, or serving meals to the hungry—agape is a bigpart of what AmeriCorps volunteers do every day.


Means “affectionate regard, friendship,” usually “between equals.” The bonds we build with others in our AmeriCorps cohorts as a result of shared experiences are an example of Philia love. In fact, the name Philadelphia comes from Philia, which is why Philadelphia is called the city of brotherly love. In ancient times, Philia described deep comradely friendship that developed between brothers in arms who had fought side by side on the battlefield. The experience of overcoming challenges, showing loyalty, sacrificing in company with fellow AmeriCorps participants may well develop into Philia, or brotherly love.


Ludus describes a playful love. For example; the affection developed between children, or teacher and student.


Refers to common or natural empathy, such as what is felt between family members, for pets, companions, or colleagues. Storgē differs from Philia in that rather than being brothers in arms, those feeling Storgē may in fact BE brothers or sisters.


Or love of the self, expresses the idea of self-respect and care. In order to give the very best to others, you must remember to love yourself. As you may encounter challenges and stress in your AmeriCorps experience, take the time to care for yourself by exercising, eating properly, and building emotional supports. If you like yourself and feel secure in yourself, you will have plenty of love (of all kinds) to give others.

Éros and Pragma

Pragma refers to the longstanding love commonly experienced between long-married couples, and showing patience and tolerance through life’s ups and downs. Meanwhile, éros was seen by the Greeks as a dangerous and passionate form of love, as it was associated with falling in love and the irrational behavior they believe went along with it. Both forms of love refer to more romantic relationships, which some of you may be familiar with (especially with Valentine’s Day drawing nearer!). Regardless, we all have a chance to experience love of our community and country through our service.


Fun and Cheap Winter Activities!


Hello and happy winter to all! While our friend Cold Temperature delayed its arrival, it’s surely here now! However, a little bit of chilly air shouldn’t get anyone down especially with Cupid’s favorite holiday around the corner. If you’re looking for a funactivity to do with your significant other or even a good friend, here are some CHEAPwintery suggestions. Many of our more specific ideas center around the Twin Cities but many more are available wherever you might be located!

Show off your academic side:

With museums dotting the Twin Cities and beyond, a little cultural outing can help spice up your winter! Many are completely free to visit or have special discounts or free admission on certain days.

The Minnesota Historical Society: With a plethora of historical sites all around Minnesota, admission to various locations is sometimes reduced. Admission to theMinnesota History Center is free and offers free admission on Tuesdays from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. 

The Minneapolis Institute of ArtsFree admission every day with additional free events (Like Third Thursday) happening frequently! Check out more here.

Cathedral of St. PaulFree guided walking tours begin at 1 p.m. every Monday-Friday. 

The Museum of Russian Art: General admission is charged but university students can show ID for a discount.

Not enough? Check out some more free museum ideas here

Celebrate winter!

In 1885, a reporter from New York described St. Paul as “another Siberia, unfit for human habitation” in winter. We can’t really comment on the validity of that statement, but we do know that St. Paulites set out to prove the reporter wrong by beginning one of the nation’s longest-running festivals and showing that winter can be fun! The Winter Carnival includes a multitude of events like THREE parades, a winter run, a treasure hunt and ice palaces! 

 Get outside:

The Twin Cities have nearly 200 parks22 lakes, and the banks of the Mississippi River to explore. All are free and great for visitors to use no matter the temperature.Free events and natural beauty draw visitors to places like Minnehaha Park, seen to the right (where Minnehaha Falls inspired “Song of Hiawatha” by Longfellow), St. Anthony Falls (the only natural waterfall on the river and historic birthplace of the city) and theMinneapolis Chain of Lakes and Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway (50 mile loop of trails around the city), there is no shortage of scenery and things to do. Or simply go outside and get in touch with your inner child and go sledding, build a snow fort or a snow man

Check out this article for more activity ideas from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Learn Something Together!

Having fun isn’t hard when you’ve got a library card! Local libraries host plenty of freeor cheap classes. Check them out all across the state! Hennepin CountySt. Paul, and the Twin Cities Metro.

Want to learn how to make a great plate of food or explore a brand new artistic endeavor? Community Education Classes are a great way to try out something new in the Twin Cities and your own community! Most school districts have a link to their Community Ed page on their website. Check out St. Paul’s hereMinneapolis’ here, and one for the Grand Rapids area!

Check out even more fun and cheap things to do around the Twin Cities here, andhere for the the entire state of Minnesota! 


The Life Cycle of a Service Year

Community organizing is not glamorous, nor is it easy. Any service year has its ups and downs as we navigate our service sites, our projects, and the communities these projects serve. But how do we deal with those rougher patches of a service year? This article discusses the typical cycle one goes through in a service year and how to deal.

0-3 months

The first three months are spent settling into the host site, learning about your service area and acclimating to the community. For some this may also mean settling in to a new home. This phase of the service year is filled with anxiety and excitement in varying degrees. Ideally, positive relationships with colleagues and meetings with key stakeholders begin as early as possible.

3-6 months

Service members become acquainted with their service and begin to contribute their talent and knowledge to those in need. While there is still a lot to learn, some of the anxiety from being a new person is replaced with the confidence to effect change. Some of the initial excitement and novelty has worn off. Self care is always important, but it is especially important during this phase of your service to prevent early burnout.

6-9 months

This part of a service year is a time of feelings of both accomplishment and frustration. Especially at the six-month mark, service members are feeling very comfortable with their positions and feeling far more confident in what they contribute. They take on more autonomy and delve deeper into their service and communities.

These feelings of progress are often coupled with feelings of frustration. Progress and momentum are addicting, and when your service stalls for any reason (as it inevitably does), it’s easy to become anxious about the pace of the year. It is easy to think that a year is an impossibly short period of time.

In order to not get bogged down on those bad days, it is important to put your service in a broader context. Simply having someone dedicate their time is an incrediblyvaluable thing. Learning what does NOT work is part of the process and almost as useful as learning what DOES work. Service, like life, consists of a series of trial and error, and failure is necessary for success. Take a step back every once in a while, take a deep breath, and know that what you’re doing is important.

9-12 months

Service members should spend time recording everything they have done to pass on to another service member or to an employee. Summarizing your accomplishments of the past year will also help you to put that information on a resume and hopefully instill a sense of pride in all that you have done. Take some time to think back, contribute in the present, and look ahead to the future. A year goes very fast and with these tips, you can make the most of it.


AmeriCorps Highlight

AmeriCorps Member Name: Alida Moore

Site: College Possible, St. Paul, Minnesota

Project Focus: College Access and Success

Mission StatementCollege Possible makes college admission and success possible for low-income students through an intensive curriculum of coaching and support.

Why did you make the choice to serve a year as an AmeriCorps member?

I chose to serve as an AmeriCorps member because of the goals and successes at my program – College Possible. The organization serves students all across the nation, working to make a college degree accessible and affordable.

What are you working on this year?

CollegePoint is second year pilot program at College Possible. We provide virtual college advising for high-achieving, lower-income students, with the goal of making college both accessible and affordable. Each of our advisors works with a caseload of around 100 students, guiding them throughout the entire college application process.

Share a story of success that you have experienced through your service this year?

Working in college access means that for most of our students, the biggest successes is still to come—college acceptance!—but that doesn’t mean we haven’t had other successes already. They range from one student’s Early Acceptance to Stanford with a full ride, to another student’s massive improvement in his essays the week before they were due, to another picking up the phone and realizing she had tons of questions about the FAFSA that needed answering.

What do you hope to do in the future and how is AmeriCorps supporting that?

While I don’t know the exact shape my future will take, I feel secure that the skills I have learned during my time with AmeriCorps and the support I have received from my supervisors will continue to serve me even after I complete this year of service.


Do you have any questions or suggestions for Public Spirit? Do you have an inspiring story of service you’d like to share, or are an AmeriCorps alumni who would like to tell us about your service experience? Please email us at

That’s all, folks! Stayed tuned for the mid-month update, and until then-stay classy!