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Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service Reflection – Alec Arditti

By Alec Arditti, SNAP Member at The Sierra Fund

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Beep-beep, beep-beep. My cell-phone’s grating alarm went off and I warily opened my eyes. After 3 days at the Wild and Scenic Film Festival, running around to different film venues and hanging out with friends until late in the night, the 8 am portrait my gray, rainy window painted was one of trepidation. I hastily yanked on some rain pants, grabbed some granola bars and Americorps pins and sped off towards Placerville, trying not to be too late.

As I pulled into the dirt parking lot at Wakamatsu Colony farm, the sun broke through the clouds and I strolled towards a circle of volunteers standing on a grassy hill. It was a beautiful moment. We discussed the importance of the day and significance of diversity. As I looked around the circle, I couldn’t help notice the uniformity of race. There was one Indian mother with her son amidst a two dozen Caucasians. At first this disappointed me, but then I considered how minimally diverse the Sierra Nevada are in general. Martin Luther King would have been proud to see the celebration of racial equality and positive discussion, regardless of locational diversity. I snapped out of my musings as a 6 year old aptly explained how Martin Luther King ended slavery and we all giggled. I was glad to be working with other progressive humans to better serve our communities, than treating this Monday as a holiday, which is what I had done for the past 22 years.

We split into different teams which worked on different agriculture related projects. My group worked together to dig holes and plant fruit trees.  Then we moved on to weeding and tilling the ground. The time flew by and by the time I knew it, our workday was over. It felt amazing to be working with such enthusiastic volunteers in the long-awaited sunshine. They gave up their day to help restore a culturally significant farm in their community and that was motivating. I also greatly enjoyed catching up with the other Americorps members, some of whom I hadn’t seen since our initial training. Performing service alone feels intrinsically good, but when performed as team it feels powerful, as if you can make the world a better place. The hypothetical tense should be excluded- it shows me we can make the world a better place.

The day concluded by goofing around on a hike around the farm. We made friends with the chickens, attempted some cartwheels and developed a makeshift baseball game out of sticks and buckeye pods. As I looked around at my fellow Americorps I thought about what had brought us all to this place. We all loved positions that allow us to work amidst nature and to have fun, but the other half of the career paths we chose, stemmed from our commitment to the land, to performing service to the Earth for the rest of our lives. People don’t enter the environmental field to make a lot of money or to have cushy jobs. They do it because what they are doing feels inherently good. As the stewards of tomorrow, we’ll work every day to keep our world healthy. Service days remind us that we are all working towards that same goal. That as we filter down different paths in the future, the cumulative influence of the all of those individual ways we serve our planet is making a difference. And if we have to play outside in the mud and the sun, that’s just an added benefit.

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