Chinatown community leader Mr. Lee and Head Gardener of M’finda Kalunga Garden Bob tour Soil Born Farms, an urban agriculture project

From October 17 to 20, AAFE staff, students, and residents participated in NeighborWorks America’s Community Leadership Institute (CLI) in Sacramento, California. CLIs aim to strengthen the voices and skills of community, resident and volunteer leaders. Furthermore, the training serves as a vehicle for learning and a forum for discussing community issues and sharing best practices and solutions to the problems faced by low- to moderate-income communities. Three staff members, two community leaders, and three students from Flushing High School attended on behalf of AAFE.

Flushing High School students join AAFE in developing an action plan

The theme for this CLI was “Building Communities Through Leadership Development.” Community leaders are challenged with the increasingly difficult task of stabilizing and revitalizing their communities in the face of diminishing resources. Residents in communities everywhere have been personally affected by these conditions that are both national and local in scope. To develop their grassroots leadership abilities, AAFE participants took courses such as Developing Leadership Potential and Community-Based Planning. Furthermore, they visited Soil Born Farms, an urban agriculture project whose mission is to empower youth and adults to discover and participate in a local food system that encourages healthy living, nurtures the environment, and grows a sustainable community.

Dan Ping He, one of AAFE’s AmeriCorps VISTA members, stated, “As an aspiring grassroots leader, the courses helped me examine what skills and strategies I can utilize to better organize the Chinatown community.” She added, “While the course materials were very informative, I learned even more by talking to other NeighborWorks community leaders from across the country.”