Breaking Out of the Tulane Bubble by Meredith McInturff

When my cohort entered the Newcomb Scholars program, we were excited to engage within a community outside the classroom. The greatest benefits of this program is the strong academic engagement through the seminar classes, and the opportunities presented to us to get to know our fellow scholars outside of the academic realm.  One of our strategies for getting engaged was the creation of specialized committees that would engage our extracurricular interests.  We were determined to break the confinement of the “Tulane Bubble”; from the abundance of academic and social events and commitments on campus, it is easy for students to become complacent and never leave the comforts of our campus to pursue new opportunities in the greater New Orleans area.20141108_122511

Therefore, the community service committee was created. Our mission is to provide opportunities for the scholars to temporarily disengage from the Tulane community and to immerse ourselves in another community within New Orleans by providing direct services and advocating for an organization that combined our individual interests into a collective project. Over the past year, we became interested in working with the Treme’ Community Garden after a member of the group had worked in this garden during Martin Luther King Day of Service. After the initial planning meetings in the fall, the group of scholars visited the garden in late February for a tour of the agricultural initiatives within Treme’ and developed a list of potential projects that the scholars could initiate. With the help of the garden director Heidi Hickman, we will be working to create an internet presence for the garden and to redesign the main entryway to the garden.

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Creating an Online Presence – Today, the scholars see many successful initiatives beginning through online platforms like Kickstarter or Indiegogo, where a community can rally behind a cause or an organization without direct interaction with the projects. We hope to create a website for the Treme’ Community Garden that includes:

  • A garden newsletter about the current plants growing and other major announcements
  • A photo gallery of updates being made to the garden seasonally
  • A list of volunteering opportunities to connect community members
  • An events page to engage the community within the garden
  • A donation page for people to contribute to the operational costs of maintaining a garden

 

Through this project, we hope to increase the Treme’ community’s knowledge of this local landmark, as well as creating a support system that expands to the greater New Orleans area. By updating community members about the progress and needs of the physical site through this website, we hope to increase in-person participation through volunteering and event opportunities within the space.

Redesign of Garden Entrance – The Treme’ Community Garden is conveniently located in the middle of the Treme’ neighborhood, across from the New Orleans Treme’ Center and Joseph A. Craig Charter School. It has the opportunity to draw in many students and their families, therefore the scholars want to assist in making the entrance look more engaging and inviting to the community. We are currently drafting designs that can be painted on the front fence to draw attention to the garden. We hope to incorporate the character of the neighborhood with the mission of the garden, to provide a communal space for growing fresh produce and educating community members, within our design.

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The scholars are very excited about the opportunities that this new project will bring to the individuals within the Tulane and Treme’ communities. It will promote connections between local community leaders and motivated college students to benefit both communities. We hope to continue this partnership over the years, so that scholars will feel comfortable in another community outside of Tulane and will feel more empowered to discover other projects around New Orleans.

If you are interested in our efforts, look for updates on our progress as we continue to build these initiatives and find other ways to get plugged in to the community! 20141108_105304