May 7, 2021 | ACTIVE LIFE | By Alanna Jackson | Photo by Patil Khakhamian
On April 22 and 23, BreakOut — a student-led organization that focuses on trip-based community service and leadership activities — held an event in conjunction with the Collaboration for Community Engagement (CCE)’s Week of Action.
This annual week-long initiative featured activities, both in-person and virtual, that were created and sponsored by the CCE’s Co-Op and Issue Organizers.
BreakOut’s event was called Colorado College Farm Volunteer Day with Food to Power. Food to Power is a local organization whose mission is to “cultivate a healthy, equitable food system in the greater Colorado Springs community.” Formerly called Colorado Springs Food Rescue, the organization is one of the CCE’s valued High Impact Partners.
Located right off the Tiger Trail along Monument Creek, the Colorado College Farm was the perfect place to host a sustainability-focused activity for students to enjoy the sunshine and celebrate Earth Day.
The Catalyst spoke with both Maddi Schink ’23, an environmental studies major and education minor, a part of the CCE Co-Op, and the Assistant Director of BreakOut, and Kylie Orf ’24, another environmental studies major who is a Community Engaged Scholar and a leader of the CC Farm Volunteer Day.
When asked how she plans BreakOut events, Schink said, “I often just begin by reaching out to community partners to see what their current needs are and how a group of students might be of assistance. My goal is to always have a mutually beneficial experience that is rooted in what best serves a local organization.”
The event was also a part of a larger collaboration between CC’s Office of Sustainability and Food to Power through their Soil Cycle Program.
The group got their hands dirty while rotating the compost bins, aerating the soil, removing trash from the site, and completing light construction work around the property.
Orf emphasized it was inspiring to see Tanvi Lad, Soil Cycle Operations Manager at Food to Power, working alongside the CC students and sharing her own experiences, especially from her reforestation work in the Peace Corps.
While shoveling the soil, the group of six students dove into conversation about the meaning of community and the need for a critical, multivocal approach to sustainability work.
The group talked about how often community work can be romanticized, but it is important to remain critical, listen to the needs and wisdom of the community one is serving, and understand how action needs to be tailored for each community.
The conversation centered around the complexities and interconnectedness of environmental systems and the importance of getting to know the earth.
“There is so much complexity in the earth beneath us that we fail to recognize,” Orf said.
She took this insight further by explaining how we also fail to recognize the interconnectedness of people and societies. To Orf, this event broke those boundaries as the group became their “own little community.”
Even after the event officially ended, the group wanted to continue chatting. They gathered around the picnic tables behind the trees by the CC Farm.
Orf said that the best moment for her was when a CC maintenance worker, who was filling in a hole by the CC Farm fence, spotted the group sitting at the tables. He was beyond excited to see students hanging out together at the tables because, years ago, he built them.
This moment goes to show the tremendous impact community work, such as building a picnic table or shoveling compost, can have on how people relate to and care for each other.
All of us are interconnected, and our efforts live on to enrich and better the lives of others. Not only were the students giving back to the earth, but they were giving something very special to each other, especially now: friendship.
Look out for more BreakOut activities! The group hopes to continue collaborating with Food to Power and a wide variety of other community partners in the future, including organizations concerned with houselessness, poverty, sustainability, and youth engagement.
The group has events every Saturday, block break, and spring break. It is a great way to engage with local organizations and meet other students. If you want to join BreakOut’s email list, email Schink at firstname.lastname@example.org!