My first impression of our Alameda apartment is that it feels warm. In the evenings we hear the kids who live in the neighborhood playing outside and it’s such a nice and welcoming sound to hear. During our first tour of Alameda Point Collaborative’s grounds I was so surprised to learn about all of the different people, opportunities, and programs that are found here. Doug who gave us our first tour was so welcoming and knowledgeable. I love the sustainable practices of the farm and the rest of APC’s programs. I thought that Doug’s explanation of how the farm’s sustainable practices were done using low tech equipment coincided with simplicity—one of the facets of the MICAH experience. Their sustainability demonstrates how we can practice social responsibility without using large amounts of money.
After my first official day as a Guest Services Intern a St. Anthony’s Dining Room my first impression of the space is that it is dynamic and constantly changing from the guests that walk through the doors to the volunteers and staff. There are several different groups that make up the staff at St. Anthony’s including the Coordinators, the Guest Services Interns, the security staff, the social workers, the clinic staff, and the kitchen staff enrolled in the rehabilitation program. Based on my first interactions and observations I noticed that each group has its own dynamic within itself and in relation to the other groups. And each person working there has an interesting story of how they got there and what they bring to the St. Anthony’s community. I’ve found that it feels very much like a family and the staff really care about each other, so to step in as someone new I feel very lucky to already receive that kind of care from everyone. The guests as well each have a story of how they came to St. Anthony’s. Today as I walked around I was able to introduce myself to some of the guests as they ate their meals. I found that many of the people that I met were very willing and excited for me to listen to their stories and for me to ask how they were doing. I’ve met a very diverse group of people in the first few days, and I’m surprised by how diverse the backgrounds of the people St. Anthony’s serve are. Just today I’ve met San Francisco natives, immigrants, a biologist, veterans, grandparents, and children. I’m most excited hear the stories everyone has to share.
My work a St. Anthony’s is already shifting my thoughts and understanding of what simplicity is. I think I would define simplicity not by its physical properties, but rather by distinguishing it from excess. I think we have simplicity when we have a true appreciation of the material and nonmaterial things that we have. We have excess when we lose that sense of appreciation. Simplicity requires being conscious of the things that we have and respecting their value. One of the ways I think we can practice simplicity is by being conscious of the options we have and our privilege in being able to choose what we want to wear or eat or buy and making decisions with this privilege in mind. My initial experiences at St. Anthony’s have shifted my thoughts of simplicity partly because I have found that many of the people I serve do not have the options in their daily lives that I take for granted. One of my duties is to create options for them so that they can have some more control in how they live their daily lives. Realizing this gives me a greater appreciation for the small choices that I can make in my daily life and pushes me to be more conscious of both the material things that I have and the nonmaterial things such as options in how I want to live my daily life. I think the experiences to come in the next seven and a half weeks will further my understanding of simplicity.