VISTA Stories: NOVEMBER 2009

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The Many Hats of an Americorps VISTA

By Lizzy Fox, Garden/CheVista Internship Coordinator at El Puente

I wear many hats at El Puente. I am the coordinator for the Espíritu Tierra Community Garden. I am the facilitator for our high school internship program, the CheVistas. (CHE = Community, Health, and Environment. Vista= a Spanish ending that shows an affiliation or job title; for example, an activista is an activist; a puppetista is a puppeteer. CHE also stands for Che Guevara. Vista can also be translated to the word “vision.” So, our interns work for our community, health, and environment under the vision of Che Guevara. We’re very creative.) Every once in a while I take a break from my regularly scheduled duties and help choreograph a dance or coach a student’s poetry performance. At any given moment, you can find me emailing gardeners, making lesson plans, teaching my interns to hammer pallets together for a compost bin, or planning events to spread the word about our work.

On November 2nd, I planned one such event. I, along with my CheVistas, my garden members, and coworkers throughout El Puente, organized a garden celebration for Día de los Muertos. Día de los Muertos is a Mexican holiday honoring loved ones passed on. We chose to celebrate it in the garden to re-inaugurate Espíritu Tierra as a vibrant community space. In order to put on this event, I had to wear all of my hats.

Hat #1: Garden Coordinator: The Garden Coordinator must identify engaged community gardeners who are willing to help plan events. She must meet with them and figure out what they have to offer.
Hat #2: CheVista Facilitator: The CheVista Facilitator must get ideas for games, raffles, and performances from her interns. She must delegate her interns to make these activities happen, prepare hosts and performers for the stage, and make sure interns help her clean the garden.
Hat #3: Stage Manager: The Stage Manager must book all performers (including those from her interns, other El Puente arts programs, and outside performances). She must run around like a crazy woman with a clipboard throughout the event.
Hat #4: Events Planner: The Events Planner must make sure that all of the equipment and materials are set up, fliers are passed out, emails are sent, and people are coming to the event.
Hat #5: Performer: This is not an El Puente Hat. I just thought I deserved to perform a poem after doing all that work.
Hat #6: The Hat of Eternal Gratitude, which is what I wear when I think of everyone that passed out fliers, worked the night of the event, helped set up, met with me to make sure we had all of our security forces and logistics in place, donated and served food, made our fliers, and did all of the other networking and nitty gritty details that I couldn’t fit on (or in) my head.