Hella Bus Blog
Here in Seattle, we share a great deal with our Portlandian neighbors to the south. Eco-friendliness, indie music scenes, politically-minded mass transportation vehicles - both our cities have a lot to be proud of.
But there's one thing I always want to stick in my pocket and take home with me every time I visit Portland. It's this:
It's safe to say my pockets are a little slimy.
Both of these delicious food-stuffs, from Potato Champion and Sweet Pea's Brulee respectively, are the work of Portland food trucks. While Seattle has some pretty fantastic food trucks of its own (notably the incredibly tasty Pai's), they can be hard to find en masse. In Portland, you can't turn around without stepping in food pods.
However, Seattle, your pod wait may be over. Every Saturday night, at the corner of Harvard and Pike, there is now a fantastic pod of trucks waiting for you from 9:00pm to 3:00am. The balsamic fries and ice-cream-cookie sandwich I devoured there last weekend were fantastic, so I encourage everyone to get in on the action. Drool-proof your keyboard, then check out your options here.
Written by Genna Watson and Will Canine
"Food connects everybody. If you have an issue with someone’s gender, someone’s sexual orientation, someone’s religion – it doesn’t matter – y’all eat."
- Cristina Orbe
Eating. We love it. And when great, healthy, and sustainable food meets great young people? Wowza. That's why when we heard about FEEST (the Food Education Empowerment and Sustainability Team), we hopped on the first bus around (our own, of course) and raced over to get a taste. This latest installment of our ongoing youth-focused series Who Do You Love? looks at the epically delicious foods, youth empowerment, and community development that FEEST cooks up on a weekly basis.
FEEST is a youth-run organization/collection of culinary geniuses housed in the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center that builds community by gathering once a week to prepare and devour a delicious meal made with ingredients from their own organic garden. The group also trains youth to educate their communities about making healthy and sustainable food choices.
Mariana and FEEST's fearsome collection of chickens
First, the Bus toured the FEEST garden and talked to superstar gardening intern Mariana Morales, who showed us some freshly planted onions and beans. “I think that more people should have their own organic gardens instead of buying other things,” Mariana says. “It’s hard to have a garden, but there are just so many benefits.” She often takes home the skills that she learns at FEEST. “At home, I tell my mom, “Here’s this new recipe I learned, you should try it out!” Mariana has also started a garden at her own school clueing her fellow students in to the world of sustainable agriculture. She hopes it will someday become a part of the school’s biology curriculum.
After the garden tour, we sat down with Cristina Orbe to discuss FEEST and the ways its programs put food, education, and empowerment around one communal table.
What is FEEST?
“Here, [youth] learn not only to cook food, but to be in the community and have a positive environment where their voice is really important, where their ideas are really important, and where they can see the power of their ideas turn from “I really want to cook some potatoes” into this amazing dish that satisfies a group of people.”
“The other element [of our program] is a youth leadership team where we hire eight interns in four different areas – journalism, event-planning, gardening, and kitchen. Those youth go through a training program where we build them into young leaders that do stuff like advocate for different issues that they think are important in the community... They promote FEEST to their friends through outreach, they plan a summit, they do projects like taking what they’ve learned and sharing it with a pocket of the community they think could use the information.”
How else do you interact with the larger community?
“In this past year our youth were asked by the Delridge District Council to come ask questions of the Mayor at the Town Hall. We brought them together and just started talking about what issues are facing the community and what it looked like the Mayor had on the table… They asked the Mayor questions and he was so impressed that he invited them to his office for further discussion. In that discussion they tackled school food, and they had him explain more in depth what his levy was, and also said “You need youth on a panel for oversight and creation of those levies. Because we’re the ones experiencing it, and we need to be heard!””
FEESTers cooking up a storm
How does food relate to empowerment and sustainability?
“Food connects everybody. If you have an issue with someone’s gender, someone’s sexual orientation, someone’s religion – it doesn’t matter – y’all eat. So it's incredible how food can be a binding thing, how people so different from each other can connect over food… I believe that food should be a part of all movements that you want to last, because it's the one thing that will keep people together – breaking bread together. Tribes are built on that idea, cultures are built on that idea. The Bus can steal that idea!” [laughter]
“Empowerment is key for people to be able to recognize the places that power is pushing on them, so they can go, “Who am I in this, and who else do I want to be?” It's about being able to look at each other and walk with people hand in hand toward what you want the future to look like. And it could look like more of the same, but you have to protect that. Or it could look like the next level of what they want to achieve.”
“I think that building strong communities is key to sustainability. One of the ways that we try to do that here is we grow food in the garden, we cook that same food, we compost that food, and then we use that compost. We have a circle here. I think true sustainability is not looking at each other in competitive ways and instead looking at the ways we can have mutually beneficial relationships with each other.”
What movements do you consider FEEST a part of?
“I think we’re a part of the healthy food movement. I think we’re also past of the urban farming movement, and the youth empowerment movement... Though not overtly, I feel like we’re also an anti-racist and social justice kind of group… We don't appear at protests, but we have Muslim and LGBTQ and Jehovah’s Witness kids all in one room, all getting along with each other.
What are you working on right now?
“This year we’re working with YMI, Southwest Youth and Family Services, and Highpoint Community Center, collaborating to form a youth summit. The youth summit is totally planned by youth... The whole point of us having this workshop is to get youth to feel empowered to critically think about what’s occurring on in their community, and come up with creative solutions in a community environment, and to look at policies – to begin to get a youth voice together, and to put a spotlight on the type of youth engagement we do in this community… Adults are facilitators, but youth are the minds and the hands.”
For more info and how to get involved with FEEST, contact Cristina Orbe at email@example.com.
That right there was our third installment of our new series, Who do you love? (find the first two here and here) A lay-o'-the-land of sorts of some of the most active, innovative, and inspiring young people in the state. This is a chance to highlight amazing work, give credit where credit is due, and begin to evaluate the state of youth-engagement in Washington and where it can go in the years to come. Know a great group that deserves a spotlight? Send ideas to alex [at] washingtonbus [dot] org.