Tuesday, March 31, 2015

DAY #3
Ferguson, MO

Today (March 30)  we started the day handing out flyers all over Ferguson, we handed out many flyers for the city council forum that night. We also got to go to a local burger joint that had really good burgers. If a small local business, which the organization we are working with Operation Help or Hush tries to support as much as possible. After lunch we continued to hand out flyer and we had the opportunity to pass by the memorial of Mike Brown. As our group of us student past by we slowly started to get silent and stopped for a couple of minutes to pay our respects. The scene  was full of teddy bears both in the street and on the side walk.
(Memorial of Mike Brown)
(Students paying respect to the memorial of Mike Brown)
(Cross located on the side of the street)
After that we continued to hand out flyers having had a reminder why it is important for people be informed and vote on the local government. The city council that is to be elected can change a community drastically. The local government select the city manager, police chief and create new programs and establish local policies. So we went to every door to hand out flyers and we were able to talk to some residents that were really friendly and always said hi to us. Ferguson is just like your ordinary town only it is much warmer than Minnesota at this time which was a nice change. 

When we finally finished all handing out our last flyers we started walking back to meet up with the rest of the group and for the most part you would never be able to tell that something tragic happened in Ferguson, however the evidence of the incident after August 9th still were visible in some areas.
(A gas station completely burned down)
(image from a closed down business)

However the community here is resilient you can tell by the dedication of their residents and even more by the voices I heard at the city council forum where candidates from all 3 wards of Ferguson were voicing their concerns on the issues that any other city has. The debate was pretty intense and got very heated at some points. But I personally feel I learned a lot by of the community I would be working in for the next week.

(Candidates for city council for Ferguson)
I learned a lot of things today and even more from the reflection we had when arriving at our motel. The organizers and us started to have a to reflect of the forum and overall issues that affect black men in this country. The reflection lasted until one in the morning and we still had much more to say but it was time to call it a night.
(Picture from Ferguson: "The opposite of war isn't peace, it's creation.")

Monday March 30th. We woke up really early and were out the door at 7 am out to door hang fliers in different parts of the Ferguson neighborhood. The flyers had information about the council candidate forum that was happening this evening.  During a 4 hour span we walked over 10 miles and over the past couple days we hung around 2,500 flyers! Since we were out in the neighborhood so early, we interacted with more people as they left their houses for the day, seeing the faces of the community. We spent the afternoon hanging more flyers in apartment complexes. We then attended the council candidate forum that we had spent so much time advertising. It was so cool to connect the faces of the candidates to the signs in peoples yards while postering. Several questions concerned the police and how to move forward to create reconciliation within the community. Being at the forum reminded me that I should attend forums like these for candidates in my own community since it's who we as a community vote into government positions are the ones who can create changes in our communities. After the forum we had a reflection and discussion, lead by a Ferguson resident, Tasha, who is also a leader in the Operation Help or Hush organization. She was able to give us perspectives on the candidates since she was a resident and more knowledgeable about the candidates. One candidate boasted about all his door knocking and conversations with people, but Tasha told us her short interaction with this candidate when he came knocking on her door. The conversation naturally progressed to the larger issues of how police perceive brown and black bodies and issues of power in general. I cannot say for everyone, but I believe everyone felt uncomfortable at some point in the conversation, if not throughout, but it's from this place that we learn about ourselves and the issues that are affecting us and/or those around us and the reason we all are here.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

I woke up this morning , the sky still black from yesterday and butterflies in my stomach. We packed this eleven person van in route to Ferguson to empower the community. Four hours into this trip- we sleep, the sound of the tires pressing against the concrete begin to create this common sound makes us like babies. Iowa has arrived ,the University greets us from the street an Chipotle settles our stomachs. We sit for about an hour only to be grateful that we finally get to satisfy this craving we've been trying to ignore. The city was small it looked like , it had a college town feel with restaurants and bars lined up along the main streets. After we eat and relax  its time to keep pushing, our destination is only another four hours away so Jenni pushes forward. We are finally here and Charles (one of the organizers) greets us at the door of the Days INN. We got settled and started right away, we split up to hand out flyers about a forum for city council and picked up trash. We get back to the hotel have a humble meal and set ground rules for all of us present including others students that came individually. Charles also tells us a little bit about himself, he use to be a Solange's stylist and a stylist for the USA Olympics team. He came from Texas to help a friend and ended up staying here for the last couple of months and is one of the co-founders for Operation Help or Hush.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Welcome to our blog!

This blog will chronicle our experience on the Ferguson Catalyst Alternative Spring Break Trip. We can't wait to share what we learn. Check back for updates! We'll be in Ferguson March 28th through April 4th.