Intern Update: Jeremy Creates Social Change from Coast to Coast

Jeremy Blackman was an intern with My Wonderful World during the summer of 2008. He is well remembered for his interests in food, art, and creative combinations of the two (ever heard of a Happy Meal pizza?) A native of Turlock, California, in the Central Valley near Modesto–he grew up on almond farm–Jeremy recently completed his undergraduate degree at UC Berkeley. I caught up with my old buddy “Jerms” to find out how life’s treating him, and to glean whether or not his internship had a lasting impact on his post-grad plans. I’ll let you be the judge.

Well hello all you My Wonderful Worlders,

I know, I know, it’s been too long since you last heard from me. Honestly, I cannot believe that an entire year has nearly gone by since I began my summer internship at National Geographic and wrote my first blog post for the My Wonderful World campaign. I really don’t know where all that time went. One day I went to sleep a happy-go-lucky guy, interning and living it up in our nation’s capital (as happy-go-lucky as anyone subjected to unbearable swamp-like humidity could be!) and the next I awoke right back here in good old Berkeley, California, enjoying my last few days as a Cal undergraduate (amidst sunny, beautiful, not-humid-one-bit weather).

woman.jpglaundrylogored.gifSo what have I been up to these past months? Well, after departing from D.C. last August I made my way north to New York City, where I spent the rest of the year interning with a small art non-profit called The Laundromat Project. The organization works with artists in the Bedford-Stuyvessant neighborhood of Brooklyn to construct engaging art exhibits in local laundromats to engage community members in new ways. Anyone who tries to argue that geographic knowledge is not important in today’s world obviously hasn’t spent time working with projects and organizations such as these. In order to understand how art could be used as a tool to spark social change, it was essential that I spend a lot of time both researching Bed-Stuy’s unique past and conversing with neighbors about how drastically the community’s urban landscape is evolving as more and more people of diverse ethnic and financial backgrounds move in.

Long story short, the time I spent in New York left me with a lot of
time to reflect on life and on my future. I returned home to California
in January even more uncertain of what I wanted to do or where I wanted
to go after graduation. For some reason, amidst all my confusion, my
gut was telling me that returning school for one final semester was not
what I needed to do. Having already completed the requirements to earn
my degree, I set my sights on continuing my real-world educational
journey. I became involved with Three Stone Hearth, a progressive
cooking business based in Berkeley that models itself after community
supported agriculture (CSA) programs.

For those of you who haven’t heard of these, they consist of
individuals who subscribe to local farms, much like one would subscribe
to a magazine. Each week, members receive a box filled with fruits and
vegetables–basically whatever is in season. Instead of produce,
however, Three Stone Hearth expands upon the traditional CSA model by
using seasonal ingredients raised and grown by local farmers to make
healing, nutrient-dense meals that members pick up each week. The hope
is to reconnect people to food–where it comes from, how it’s prepared,
and its importance in bringing individuals together. In fact, many
members actually come in to help in the kitchen and learn new cooking
techniques. And to throw another geographic aspect into the mix, the
menu, which changes weekly, is always based on a different cultural or
traditional diet, be it anything from Korean, to Peruvian, to East

Now I know all these experiences might not seem to go together all so
well–working for a summer with National Geographic, followed by an
internship in a New York arts project, and then cooking at a local
business in Berkeley–but, in a roundabout way, they do. Each of them
is driven by a desire to bring people together and to increase
awareness of culture, diversity, and the need for human-to-human
relationships. I don’t know where I’ll be in five years from now. I’m
definitely less sure of my future than I was a year ago. But, in a way,
I’m more excited about having that big question mark in front of me,
because I know that no matter what I end up pursuing, I will be
bringing with me knowledge and an appreciation for connecting with
others from diverse geographic and social backgrounds. And in my
belief, that’s the only way we can, as human beings, begin to create
real and beneficial social change.

Inspiring, no? Thanks for the update, Jeremy! Look for more on community supported agriculture next week in our June newsletter, themed “go local.” We’ll have a step-by-step guide for planting a garden in your backyard and tips for eating, shopping, playing, and investing in your local community. If you’re not already a My Wonderful World campaign member, subscribe to the newsletter today!

Sarah Jane
Images courtesy the Laundromat Project.

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