Category Archives: Corps members

Communal Self: Love Your Boundaries and Beyond

By Amanda Hoffman

10189552085_eddf4f00cb_mHave you ever been punched in the stomach by twenty people in the space of twenty seconds? Simply said, this metaphor sometimes serves to describe my experience of living in New York City.

I love people. This love may contribute to the daily affront I feel, as I try to keep my eyes and awareness open to the teeming throngs, that I might access individuality among the effluvium. When this effort is thwarted, I suffocate in the muteness of averted eye-contact and cannot claw out of the clear film sucked to my skin that separates me utterly from others, hand heart and breath. I take another leap at connection, and do find a groove of air that supports me and, somehow, another. Connection occurs when I speak bravely, when I trust my voice and thoughts to make meaning, to invite care, and carry each other.

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Next Year in Freedom

By Dana Krimker

KRIMKERWell, of course there would be free Wi-Fi, healthcare for all, an endless supply of frozen yogurt and it would be spring all year long. If I could really have my ideal world, everyone would adhere to a set of community norms, resources would be easily accessible for everyone, and the “system” would value people over money.

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A Different “Order”

By Benjamin Altshuler

benjWith preparations for Passover underway at this time of year, my thoughts turn to the elements that underpin community. During our AVODAH house meetings these last few weeks, one topic has been of primary focus. This subject is found at the centerpiece of Passover Seders, as well as other Jewish holidays, and the festivals of every faith and community. I am referring to food, of course.

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Stories Within Stories

By Dena Franco

dena francoOne night a few weeks ago, we had our first AVODAH programming lesson in advocacy. We were all sitting in a circle, expecting a discussion about social justice, as was the norm. But the facilitator began by asking each of us, one by one: “How did you get here?” After some confused responses such as “I took the bus” or “I walked,” it was clear that the question was meant to be interpreted in a broader sense: what is your story? Why AVODAH? Why social justice? Why intentional community?

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A Tale of Two Mardis Gras

Part One: Rayza Goldsmith

rayzaMy post-graduation move to New Orleans was by no means an accident. The summer before my senior year of college, I found myself ruling out job opportunities and programs if they weren’t available in New Orleans. So I changed my strategy and began searching for ways to move to the Big Easy. And here I am. But until about three weeks ago, there was something missing from my experience. The locals would talk about their green and purple shoes, their coconut collections, and their big trips to the recycling center after Mardi Gras. I was confused and overwhelmed. My co-workers told me, “You’ll understand once you see it for yourself,” and I hoped they were right. Frankly, I had no idea what to expect, and was afraid of doing it wrong. What ensued during the two weeks of Mardi Gras celebrations was both utter nonsense and utterly miraculous. Thus far, I’ve failed to actually capture the experience when describing Mardi Gras to friends and family, but I can certainly provide the facts.

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Making Education More Accessible

By Ivan Porto

“Open the email”
“I can’t–I’m scared. What if I didn’t get in?”
“Well, If you don’t open the email, we’ll never know. Just open the email and we’ll find out!”

rsz_img_2527A calm Friday morning suddenly became nerve-wracking. I had been working with a high school student named Nadia on her college applications, and little did we know that her life was about to change in an instant. An Eastern European immigrant who has spent the past five years changing schools while traveling between New York City and her native country, Nadia was about to find out that her dream school had accepted her. Her essay, letters of recommendation, and the countless hours spent on homework had paid off. She was one step closer to achieving her dream and I was fortunate to share this moment with her.

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Building Communities that are More than “Fair”

By Jenn Pollan

jenn pollanI make it a point to try to remember to kiss my roommate Kira on the forehead every morning before I leave for work. Though Kira and I both work for projects run by the Center for Court Innovation, her commute to the Crown Heights Mediation Center is around 20 minutes, while my commute to the utterly inaccessible Red Hook Community Justice Center takes me almost an hour. Every morning at around 8:00 AM, I tiptoe around the mounds of clothes and shoes that cover the small double room we share, trying not to wake a peaceful, sleeping Kira, who will not stumble out of bed for at least another half hour. Unfortunately for Kira, quiet exits aren’t my forte and she almost always wakes up. When we inevitably make eye contact, I open my mouth to utter an apology for once again waking her up, but she always just smiles and mumbles some version of “go get em girl” or “have a great day Jenn.” Recently, we decided it would be cool if we both held up three fingers, a symbol borrowed from one of our favorite movies, The Hunger Games, indicating respect and love (yes we do on some level realize this is quite weird). Despite the fact that we live quite literally on top of each other, lacking storage space, amenities, and any semblance of privacy, Kira and I have built a mini home together brimming with love and support.

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