Category Archives: 2014 Emily Klingenberger

Serving at Alameda Point Collaborative

On Justice

I found the reading by Michael Sandel to be both interesting and frustrating. Perhaps because the section we read was taken from a much larger work, I found some of his points and comments to clutter his overall argument. Such discussions would make sense to include in a book but not so much a critical essay, which was the style in which I was reading it. Despite this, I think that the crux of Sandel’s work is clear and which is best described in his own words, “A politics of moral engagement is not only a more inspiring ideal than a politics of avoidance. It is also a more promising basis for a just society.”  What I think Sandel means is that it is ignorant to believe that we can separate morals from politics, and in fact morals need to be a part of politics so that the systems in which we live in can be supported by a backbone of morally defined justice. I agree with Sandel to a point, especially when thinking that how we define justice, what we consider to be just, is inseparable from what society values. To create a just society, we need to work in collaboration to define what is valuable to us as a society and that cannot be achieved without the inclusion of every individual’s morality because morality for the most part is intrinsic.  I think that this reading connects to the work I am doing at APC because I am working towards moral engagement. I am creating a definition of justice that includes the voices of those who need it the most.



Physical Labor but Mental Exhaustion

This summer I am working at Alameda Point Collaborative as their curriculum building intern for their Farm2Market program. Alameda Point Collaborative (APC) is a supportive housing community for families affected by poverty and homelessness. Residents work with on-site case managers and counselors to break down barriers to stability, while adults in the community may participate in their workforce development program and take advantage of one of their on-the-job training opportunities.  Of the 500 people living at APC, 300 are children and youth who can get the help they need for academic success through APC’s education programs. The specific program I am working with is the Farm2Market program which is a paid On The Job Training (OJT) program for up to twelve formerly homeless individuals residing in APC’s supportive housing community. Farm production, produce sales, managing volunteer groups and practicing personal accountability all give our trainees a wide range of highly transferable skills to help them find meaningful employment. My role working with this program is to work on the farm and gather information about the duties of the trainees while developing a cumulative trainee handbook that covers important, generalizable workplace skills as well as specific information about the workings of the farm.  My favorite part about my job so far is being able to work on the farm and talk to the members of the OTJ training program. I love being outside and working with my hands and being able to do so while listening to the stories of my co-workers who are members of the community we are living in together is extremely special.

I think a challenge to me, which I didn’t realize was a challenge until dinner tonight, is not having the support from our supervisors I was expecting. I listen to the other Micah members’ descriptions of the conversations they have with their bosses about race, and privilege, and the issues affecting the community they serve and realize that those conversations are something I am lacking. The work on the farm is difficult and challenging too of course, but it’s not the most shaking challenge for me right now. I need to be able to talk about what I am seeing and hearing and feel comfortable asking questions to these people who have been here and worked here the longest and  I know I can learn so much from. I think that if I had that support, not only would I be better able to understand my place here, but my service, and the effect of it, would be benefitted as well. I just don’t feel that safe yet. I hope that this will change.




There is something primal about moving to a new place. That little bubble of anxiety that rises in your throat when approaching a room, which until moments before was so empty and owner-less, pops when you pass the threshold, releasing animalistic excitement.  It fills the space, every crack and crease, until all those feelings of vulnerability that had been lingering around your fluttering heart melts into soft flutters in your stomach.  That’s how I felt upon entering Stardust Place. It was natural and jolting like a change in heartbeat and as magical as its name implies.  The apartment was bigger than I imagined, but it’s perfect for the six of us. Only four days after moving in, I sit on an orange beanbag chair on the living room floor and marvel at how lucky I am to be in a space that already feels like home.

The farm is another place I didn’t expect to become so attached to already. I have never been the gardening type. I’m a serial potted plant murderer and the succulents I’ve tried to keep on my porch are only still alive because my roommate remembers to water them. However, the moment I began picking scallions my first day outside, sitting with my coworker and peeling off the roots, listening to his easy chatter about movies he has seen and the music he likes, I felt an overwhelming sense of rightness. I think that to me when I think of simplicity I think of happiness and that moment in the sun when we harvested something that had grown from the ground. I’m learning everyday what this simple happiness is and where it comes from. So far I know that because the purpose of this place is good, to provide for and protect those people who have been given so much less than they deserve, the complexity of any logistics doesn’t take away from the meaning of our work here. I think that at the root of it all (no pun intended) if we pursue what makes us happy, truly, wholly, happy, we’ll find simplicity a part of it.


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