Sustaining Way July/August Newsletter 2022

July/August Newsletter

VISTA Program Update:

We’re official! Sustaining Way was approved as an Americorp VISTA host! AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) is an anti-poverty program that provides full-time service members to nonprofit organizations and local agencies that serve low-income communities. The program’s purpose is to strengthen efforts to eliminate poverty by encouraging people from all walks of life to engage in meaningful volunteer service. 

We will have four VISTA Positions starting this fall: 

  1. Food Security and Agriculture VISTA
  2. Community Engagement VISTA
  3. Marketing and Development VISTA
  4. Adult and Youth Development VISTA

This is a major accomplishment and will provide increased capacity as we move forward.

Help Sustaining Way Win up to $100K!

We are so excited to announce that we were selected to participate in USA Today’s A Community Thrives fundraiser challenge! From now until August 12th, we are aiming to raise $8,000 to support Sustaining Way’s mission and programming. If we meet our goal, we will be eligible to receive up to $100K in grants! This is a huge opportunity for us, and donating as little as $5 can make all the difference! Will you help us make Nicholtown Free to Thrive?

Become a Sustainer Today!

Become a Sustainer of Sustaining Way! By giving any amount, whether $5 or $500, monthly, you will be providing essential support for our life changing programs, and provide us consistent income so we can better focus our efforts on our mission. Our goal is to reach 50 Sustainers by September 1st and we need your help to reach it! So far, we already have 28 Sustainers so we are more than halfway there. These monthly donations make a huge difference to us and can gain you benefits like a produce card to use at our garden on site, reusable and sustainable goodies or even a free energy home visit!

Steward Fellows Program Update:

The Summer Steward Fellows Program at Sustaining Way is a paid 80-hour fellowship for high school students and rising ninth graders. Participants are provided job readiness training, sustainability education, and hands-on-skills in the garden. Each week this summer was dedicated to a different area of sustainability, including Food & Landscape, Energy & Energy Efficiency, Consumption & Waste, Healthy Lifestyles, Environmental Sustainability, Social Sustainability, and Advocacy. Our Fellows went on 8 field trips, had hands-on training in 4 different gardens and learned from 35 different topic experts. Some of our favorite lessons were bike riding with Momentum Bike Club, Pasta Making with Half Acre Holistics, and visiting Lake Conestee.

The Fellows graduate from the program on August 5th and then have an opportunity for an internship with Sustaining Way as a Steward Leader which includes exploring a topic of sustainability deeper and a few months working with a mentor in that field. In years past our Steward Leaders have worked with LS3P architecture firm to learn about sustainable architecture, Prisma Health doctors to learn about the medical field and impacts of climate change on community health, and Earth Designs to learn about developing sustainable landscapes.

Meet Our Summer Interns:

Amanda (Steward Leader):

“I started my journey with Sustaining Way about a year ago. I was new to sustainability. Fortunately, I was able to secure a position with Sustaining Way as a steward leader. Then as I progressed in the program as a sustainability education intern. I was able to dive more into sustainability all while bonding with amazing Steward Fellows. As they learned; I also broadened my horizon in the world of sustainability. I am very glad I joined this program.”

Mia (Sustainable Agriculture Intern):

“Through my internship with Sustaining Way, I was able to gain more experience with gardening and working outdoors in general. I thoroughly enjoyed being able to meet community members and give back to them through the Meals and Masks program. Overall, I was able to feel accomplished at the end of each day, acquire numerous valuable skills, meet very nice people, and expand my knowledge on sustainability during my time as an Agriculture Intern.”

Sydney (Sustainable Agriculture Intern):

“This internship has been a great opportunity to get my hands dirty while learning about sustainable gardening and its impacts on the surrounding community. It feels good knowing that by taking care of a backyard of plants, I am also helping out a neighbor or two!”

Carmen (Marketing Intern): 

“Working with Sustaining Way has been a rewarding experience through which I have learned more about my community, sustainability, and working in the environmental field. I enjoy working for a nonprofit, knowing that my work will help those around me and bring sustainability to the forefront of our community”

Vivian (Education Intern): 

“Through the hundreds of emails and phone calls that I made during my internship, from others at SW to complete strangers, I found conversing with people to become more second nature. Besides working with other staff, fellows and parents, and topic experts to ensure that our Steward Fellows summer program ran smoothly, engaging with potential partners helped me realize the importance of team effort to ensure smooth operations!”

Backyard Garden Program Update:

Our Backyard Garden Program got off to a great start in late May. We were able to assist five members of the Nicholtown Community kick off their summer gardens. With a variety of vegetables, herbs, and flowers being grown at different homes, our gardeners are learning the joys and tricks of growing your own food. We are looking to expand the program to more participants this fall and next summer. We would love to continually reach our maximum limit of participants and support and educate as many members of the community as possible. There is real value in growing your own food, and we love that others see that too.

Volunteer Opportunities and Giveaways!

We deeply appreciate all of our volunteers at Sustaining Way. We can’t thank you enough for coming to Work and Learns, Service Days, and farmers markets. Looking to volunteer with us? We offer many opportunities to get your hands dirty and make a difference in your community. We hold Work and Learns every Wednesday from 4:30-6:00pm and Friday from 8:00-9:00am at Annie’s House. These are excellent opportunities to volunteer in the Annie’s House Garden while also getting all your gardening, composting, and sustainability questions answered by our amazing staff. We also hold Service Days every 3rd Saturday from 10:00am-12:00pm. Volunteers are always welcome at any of our events. See you in the garden soon!

Volunteer of the Month: 

We recently started doing monthly volunteer gift giveaways! Each month, we enter in all of the volunteers from that month into a randomized raffle for gifts generously donated by local businesses. Our first winner, for the month of June, was Janice! Janice is an amazing volunteer who comes out every week to our Friday Work and Learn. We appreciate all she does for Sustaining Way and are proud to have given her some REI merchandise. Want to win a volunteer prize? All you have to do is come out to volunteer with us!

Open House Events

This is Oscar Bennett, Engagement Coordinator at Sustaining Way. I wanted to update everyone on how our Open House event schedule has changed and the topics we have discussed so far this year. This year we have decided to make our Open House events bi-monthly to make sure we have time to spread the word around the community as well as give plenty of time to collaborate with our partners to ensure a great event. 

Our most recent July Open House was focused on The Greenville Infrastructure Bond/Land Management Ordinance. Greenville county received $36 million from the federal government to update neglected roads, bridges, medians, signal lights, and more. They also discussed the ways that communities in Greenville will be setup going forward, meaning where, and what types of builds will be in certain areas. For this meeting we had two great speakers, Clint Link, the Director of Public Works and Shannon Lavrin, Assistant City Manager. This discussion allowed us to decide on our next Open House event topic: Affordable Housing – What it means, What it really is, and How we can get more of it in the community. 

We thank you all so much for your time and support for Sustaining Way and the Nicholtown community, and we hope to see you at the next Open House! Details to follow.

Upstate Forever Award

Sustaining Way was honored to receive the 2021 Environmental Equity and Justice award during the ForeverGreen Awards ceremony hosted by Upstate Forever in June.

US Climate Action Network Conference

Sustaining Way was thankful to be back in person at the annual conference of the United States Climate Action Network! Throughout the week we were able to connect and collaborate with new and old friends from throughout the country that are all fighting to provide a sustainable and equitable path forward for our planet and all its inhabitants. As Collete Pichon Battle, Gulf Coast Center for Law and Policy, stated, “We’re not going right. We’re not going left. We’re going up together. Up to the surface where we can all breathe.” After multiple workshops and updates on a variety of topics, the week culminated in the network voting on what the focus of the network would be for the coming year. The four focus areas with corresponding action teams for 2022-2023 will be: 

Breaking the Fossil Fuel and other Extractive Industries Subsidies and Tax Break

It is time to move beyond fossil fuels. How can we rewrite the rules when it comes to fossil fuel subsidies and tax breaks? How can we highlight how much these industries are benefiting from this while people suffer and climate change is further accelerated? 

Centering People and Climate Impacts

After decades of inaction, climate change is hitting us hard, and this is just the beginning. People are facing losses and damages that there is little support to recover from. From tornados in the dead of winter in Kentucky, to debilitating drought and fires in the Southwest, to floods decimating villages in India. This is not the world we want, and we need to work together to center the people who are being impacted the most. 

Grassroots Campaign for Vision for Equitable Climate Action (VECA)

Now that VECA is well defined it is time to spread the vision, specifically grassroots communities and organizations. How do we develop a communication campaign, actions materials, specific outreach & partnership, and hone our demands to promote this vision? How do we publicly mobilize people towards our Vision for Equitable Climate Action (VECA) with an emphasis on ensuring a just social & economic transition?

Building Power from the Grassroots Up

COVID has exposed the baseline inequities in health, employment, etc. – across race, class, gender, age, ability, etc. It also continues the current negative trajectories in minority education, child welfare, and hazardous working conditions for marginalized communities while providing tremendous relief to those communities who already are least exposed to COVID-19 risks both domestically and abroad.  Moments like these lay bare the importance of simultaneously addressing needs/issues WHILE fighting the systems that exacerbate them AND building new, more just ones.

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