Our train from Wilmington arrived in Washington D.C at 11am today. We walked eight blocks from Union Station to our hostel, heavy suitcases rolling behind and bags weighing down our shoulders. As soon as we arrived, Brad – the place owner- greeted us with a smile. William Penn House is not just a lovely and cozy community home tucked in a corner of Capitol Hill, the economic and political center of District of Columbia. It is also a Quaker hospitality center that sponsors programs and seminars on social justice and community service, targeting issues at the heart of Quaker values such as social and economic justice, sustainability and community building. Through the William Penn House network, our groups will connect with many non-profit organizations that address these concerns. Today, we spent a chunk of our time getting acquainted with two of them: Groundwork Anacostia and Capitol Hill Village.
Groundwork Anacostia DC- also called “the center for green urbanism” – is a part of Groundwork USA, a non-profit organization that works to renovate public lands through sustainable environment care and enhancement. Their hands-on programs have made tremendous improvements in the area’s landscape, fostering a much safer and healthier environment for the community. Groundwork reminds me of another “green” NGO founded by Majora Carter (she was a Shoemaker at Westtown last fall if you remember) called “Sustainable South Bronx” where she started green-collar job training programs that get workers out of their underemployment status, an approach that pairs together economic and environmental solutions. Even though they differ in their approach and vision, Groundwork also aims at building and improving community through tackling environmental issues.
Capitol Hill Village is a non-profit organization that takes advantage of volunteers in order to provide senior citizens the means to live comfortably in their own homes as they grow older. Today we helped clear out the weed-covered path in front of Capitol Hill Village building. As we raked through the dead leaves, the brown surface was gradually replaced with green shrubs. Little by little, our minds are also transforming, filling themselves with new realizations and understanding of the world around us.
During two weeks, how many “weeds” from our mind could we get rid of and replace them with budding life?