Monday, June 30, 2014

Iskashitaa would like to welcome our newest member of our staff - Tyler! Read all about him below.

My name is Tyler Gonzalez, and I am a full-time student at Pima Community College. This upcoming spring I will be graduating and transferring to my currently undecided university of choice. I will be transferring with my Associate of Arts degree with a psych concentration and minor in Spanish. So far I have worked at Iskashitaa for one week, and I will be here for another month. I am a temporary full-time intern who is having a wonderful time working with the community in such a helpful way. Working with refugees is great and being able to help the community contribute to good stewardship regarding natural resources is also a wonderful opportunity. It is great to know that I am making a difference and helping those who need it. Most importantly, in relation to God, it gives me peace to know that there are people and organizations in my community who are contributing to be God’s Good Stewards. 
Iskashitaa would like to simultaneously welcome and say farewell to Micah Hadley, our signature male intern! It may be a little late to introduce him, as he leaves tomorrow, but Micah has brought a lot to Iskashitaa in the past month and it's important to share him with everyone else. In typical Iskashitaa fashion, he never remembered to write a bio, so it is only making it onto the blog today!

Thank you, Micah!

I hail from Nebraska Wesleyan University, where I am a senior majoring in Sociology-Anthropology and Spanish, with a minor in Global Studies.  After what was, for me, a whirlwind six months working with HIV+ families in Cambodia and an equine therapy program for at-risk youth in Bolivia, I landed in Tucson last January to spend a week with Iskashitaa.  Utterly humbled by the ideas and individuals surrounding Iskashitaa, I felt at once a world in sync; hands that held, and a walk that walked.
With the help of several long phone conversations with Barbara, the warm home of Cadie McCarthy, and the openness of the other staff, I have found myself back at Iskashitaa for a terrific yet terrifyingly brief 38 days.  My time here is focused on gathering food security narrative data from refugees and dynamically assisting staff wherever I can.

Gina Gresham
PR Intern

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Sustainable Tucson

Last night, I attended a Sustainable Tucson meeting and listened to a number of speakers talk about heat emergencies and survival techniques. According to a fact sheet released by the White House (see below), climate change has brought increased warming, drought, and insect outbreaks to the Southwest, which has increased wildfires and damages to people and ecosystems. Heat emergencies can cause electrical blackouts and disrupt water supplies, and as the climate situation gets worse, these disruptions can last longer and longer. Arizona is expected to get hotter and significantly drier, and Tucson could potentially go a whole week without electricity - no air conditioning, no phones or internet, and no refrigerator or freezer to keep perishable foods - which becomes dangerous fast.

I had never heard about the 1995 heat wave in Chicago that left over seven hundred people dead (more than twice as many as the infamous Chicago fire of 1871). Having lived the last three years in the Windy City, this shocked me. What saved a lot of the people who survived the five days of 100+ degrees was their sense of community. The neighborhoods where people knew and interacted with each other regularly were more likely to make it through, because these people helped each other.

At this point in the Sustainable Tucson meeting, we discussed our own neighborhood community with those sitting around us. Having been in Tucson only a week, I didn't have much to contribute, but I ended up sitting next to Robby, one of Iskashitaa's board members. When the speaker later touched on how during a heat emergency, grocery stores wouldn't be the ones to feed people, she turned to me and nodded. In this kind of crisis, organizations like Iskashitaa would play a bigger role.

The refugee population is one of the most vulnerable groups when temperatures climb to dangerous heights. It's important that these people are given opportunities to become integrated in their community, that they have neighbors and contacts they can check in with, or friends that will check up on them. When (and not if) Tucson faces a week-long loss of power, it will be up to these people to help each other survive.

Gina Gresham
PR Intern

Monday, June 9, 2014

Reflection on Food For Thought Potluck Dinner

~May 28, 2014
I would have never imagined growing up in my little town that I would one day be sitting in a room with at least thirty people from all across the world, sharing stories, laughs, and food. Yet, there I was. It was the night of the Food For Thought Dinner that I had spent the past couple of weeks hearing about and watching Stephanie put together.  I arrived early with Stephanie and Micah. We had decided that we would get there at around 5:00pm to set up even though others would not arrive until closer to 6:00pm. Set up went rather quickly so we went about making sure everything was accessible and easy for people when they arrived. A few people arrived to the kitchen early to cook their meals. One lady, named Justina, was had a lot of character and a fast talker. The three other ladies (two being refugees) were helping Justina out in the kitchen and learning about the rice dish she was making.

My main job at the event was to take pictures, and taking pictures is what I did. I started off with the girls in the kitchen, getting photos of their prep work as well as their finished product. While the girls were cooking and people arrived I took pictures of the dishes being brought out and the little cards with the descriptions of what the food was and what was in it. So many different kinds of food were brought and all of them tasted amazing. There were foods from Iraq, Nepal, Russia, and many other places.

While walking around and taking pictures I did not mingle much with people, besides those who I sat with when eating all the amazing food. I am not really one who does well with interactions, so just being able to walk around and listen to the way people spoke with one another was really great. When I did sit and talk while eating, I sat down with a lady who was from Mexico and her family, as well as Justina. Everyone was really nice and we had lively conversations about where we each were from. I learned about how the lady from Mexico ended up coming to the states and marrying her husband. Talking with Justina was also very eye-opening. She is a transgender woman who only recently decided to come out, and hearing her talk about her life and what it was like growing up as a boy, yet feeling like a girl, made me see things a little differently. Watching the way people interacted with one another, people from all kinds of places and backgrounds, really made me feel special. I felt like I was seeing the real America: the idea of this giant melting pot. I was able to taste and see all these cultures blended into a beautiful tapestry that was the Food For Thought Potluck Dinner.

~Elizabeth Office Intern with Iskashitaa

Friday, June 6, 2014

Market on the Move

Market on the Move’s June locations are now available! 

Market on the Move is an organization that collects unwanted produce from Nogales, Arizona, and redistributes it. The leftover produce consists of what grocery stores won't take, even though it is perfectly edible (and delicious). For only a ten dollar donation, one is able to get up to sixty pounds of fruits and veggies. That money goes towards Market on the Move's various programs, which include food rescue and disaster relief.

Many families and individuals cannot eat all sixty pounds of produce before it begins to go bad, so Iskashitaa would be grateful for any extra that can be delivered to 1406 E. Grant Rd. That produce will be redistributed to food insecure families in the Tucson area.

Click on the link to find the Market near you!

Gina Gresham
PR Intern

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Surge of Migrant Families Arrive in Arizona

Migrants dropped at Greyhound bus stations

Planes full of women and children migrants have recently touched down in Arizona, their passengers released to Greyhound bus stations in Tucson and Phoenix in order to cope with the large numbers of incoming migrants in Texas. Casa Mariposa, one of Iskashitaa's partner organizations in Tucson, has been helping the arriving parents and children navigate the Greyhound bus system and has given them donations to ease their transition. These families have relatives elsewhere in the United States. They are sent from Tucson to various destinations around the country in order to unite with these relatives, and Casa Mariposa is helping to facilitate this process with tips on purchasing bus tickets and taking the Greyhound. Before leaving Tucson, the families are given a bag of food, as well as any diapers, clothes, or simple medication that is needed. They are then required to meet with ICE in their destination location two weeks after their arrival.

Casa Mariposa appreciates Iskashitaa's work and uses the fresh produce they receive from us for the hot meals they serve every night to these families. Grapefruit and oranges that come from Iskashitaa are also often included in the food bags the families receive.

Though Casa Mariposa is dealing primarily with these families, it's important to note that the amount of unaccompanied minors, mostly from Central America, has grown exponentially in the past six years – this year, the government estimates that 60,000 children could be caught trying to cross the border. The demographics of these minors have changed as well: there are now more girls and more children under the age of thirteen. These young immigrants attempt to cross in order to escape crime and poverty, and often to reunite with relatives already in the United States. President Obama asked Congress for $1.4 billion last week in extra funding in order to house, feed, and transport the surge of children, and appointed Craig Fugate, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to handle the situation. This increase is a growing logistical problem for the U.S. government.

Link to article:

Gina Gresham
PR Intern

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Iskashitaa Welcomes Gina

Iskashitaa invites the community to join us in welcoming our newest intern, Gina Gresham! 

My name is Gina Gresham and I will be a senior in the fall at Loyola University Chicago. I grew up in Minneapolis, and am a true Minnesotan at heart, so the heat in Tucson will be a challenge for me! I am majoring in International Studies and Spanish, with a minor in English, and have a passion for reading (especially the news). I lived and studied in Santiago, Chile, for six months and returned with fond memories and experiences that fueled my drive for international work. I am interested in the world and hope to grow a career with a non-governmental organization. I thrive on meeting new people and hearing about their experiences, and am so very excited to be joining Iskashitaa for the summer.

Gina will serve as our PR intern, she will participate in harvests, workshops, volunteer trainings, and community events including a Food for Thought dinner, in order to get to know refugees and volunteers, as well as to experience Iskashitaa’s organizational culture.  Gina’s main role will be to systemically evaluate our current web presence, develop, and implement a plan to help us reach new audiences and thereby expand our work.  With direct input from Barbara, Gina will assist the Network in increasing their social media presence as well as presence on partner agencies’ websites.  Further, Gina will seek publication opportunities in content related print and online media.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Organic, Locally-Grown Produce

Angela Pittenger's desire to avoid pesticide residues on certain types of produce led to her search for healthier fruits and veggies that wouldn't break the bank. Pittenger consulted two lists put out yearly by research and advocacy organization The Environmental Working Group. These lists, termed "The Dirty Dozen" (apples, strawberries, and grapes, to name a few) and "The Clean Fifteen" (asparagus, avocadoes, and cantaloupe, and more) consist of produce with the most and least amounts of pesticide residues, respectively. Instead of spending more money to replace all non-organic food with organic, Pittenger recommends focusing on substituting only the fruits and vegetables on "The Dirty Dozen" list. And as a general guideline, she adds, thick-skinned produce that is peeled before eaten is less likely to be contaminated. This will ensure a healthier diet, even for those on a tight budget.
In recent weeks, Iskashitaa has harvested a lot of organic produce, such as small Sonoran peaches, sixteen varieties of garlic from Forever Yong Farm, figs, grapefruit, and kumquats. Iskashitaa's harvests are essentially free, unlike the produce Pittenger found in her survey of grocery stores, and are an important contribution that both creates and benefits the Tucson community.

Gina Gresham
Borderlinks Summer Civic Engage