Roosevelt’s Strong Women Strong Girls service project has been fine-tuned! I think I can speak for my fellow mentors in saying we are extremely proud of the design. The background of the project includes an educational portion: for the past few weeks, the girls have been reading announcements on the loudspeaker about the perks and utter importance of recycling (which their school does not do). They have assumed their roles as educators, an exciting position, and have been doing a great job. Then, as far as the actual service projects goes, the overall plan is a three-part model in which the girls will transform a dead, weedy garden into a friendly, bright atmosphere to relax in during recess. Although the girls are graduating to middle school this summer, our hope is that this garden will flourish and return every spring (especially considering our choice of annuals). However, besides the actual experience of building a garden, there are many lessons we hope to transfer. For one, many of these girls doubt their abilities and power, either because of their social status, race, or gender. Transforming an entire garden using only Girl Power should definitely prove this untrue. This is an empowering opportunity. Also, the importance of planting a garden is not solely for aesthetics, but also to improve environment conditions; in general terms, make the world a better place.
Here is the step-by-step process: (excluding the planning steps… which were definitely vital.)
Week One: Pinecone Bird Feeders
The girls spoke about an interest in having butterflies inhabit the garden. Although this would certainly be beautiful, such a task is difficult to achieve. We did consider the type of plants butterflies are attracted to, but creating a butterfly garden on a budget is near impossible. However, we decided to bring another form of life into the garden – birds! Pinecone bird feeders are a great way to remain environmentally friendly while helping out our flying friends. If you have never made them before, the only supplies you need are peanut butter, pinecones, and birdseed. The process is simple but fun, especially if you start to see results! After spreading a pretty thick layer of peanut butter on the pinecones, roll them in birdseed and hang them in a garden or other outdoor area. The only complication: carrying a 20lb bag of birdseed around campus for three hours.
Week Two: Cement Stepping-Stones
When we went to inspect it, Roosevelt’s dilapidated garden area had three random stepping-stones miscellaneously placed… we knew we had to do something about this. Therefore, when we came across this possibility, we were very excited; it is an all around great project to do with the girls and it is CHEAP! The idea is to mix your own cement and make stepping-stones out of it. “Quickcrete” is the best option out there: it is about three dollars for a 60lb bag (which I refuse to carry!!). After mixing the powder with water, you basically pretend you are making a cake – we plan to use 15 aluminum pie plans, differing in shape. While the cement is still wet, you can put other pebbles into it or make handprints etc. We bought a bag of goldfish pebbles, pink of course, to spell out SWSG. This aspect of the project allows the girls to leave their “legacy” behind. The stepping-stones will be there for years, and they will have made them.
Week Three: Weeding
This will probably be the most difficult part of the process: not only will the girls hate doing it, but we will too! However, hopefully the explanation of the importance will be enough to convince the girls to just get through it.
Week Four: Planting
To recover for the morbid and boring reaping from the week before, we will be planting! The mentors met for about two hours to discuss the types of plants we should plant. We had a lot to consider: skill level, difficulty, life span, and growth period (since the girls will not be there for July and August). We were lucky to find a secret gardener was among us – her guidance was fundamental in our choices. We decided on several easy seeds, like wildflowers, which are both pretty and low maintenance. We also wanted to be sure the girls would see results, so we purchased several bulbs as well as bushes. Hopefully the weather permits, and everything grows and flourishes into a garden as strong as it’s parents.