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Living Lab Hosts Visitors from North Dakota

The Living Lab hosted a group of volunteers from Cavalry Lutheran Church in Grand Forks, North Dakota, on July 31 who were participating on their yearly mission trip.  Headed by youth ministry leaders Nichole and Aaron Bye, the group consisted of 28 high school students of various grade levels, along with six adult chaperones, who participated in a Living Lab workday.  A previous group of Cavalry volunteers visited the Living Lab six years ago.

“The Living Lab is absolutely beautiful.  I remember how much fun we had when we were here six years ago, and I really wanted to bring our current group of students back to experience this space.  We’re doing God’s work,” Aaron said while enjoying the view of the Bay Area from the CES.

The group began the workday in the morning, standing shoulder-to-shoulder in a large circle in the amphitheater exchanging warm introductions. O’Dowd’s Annie Prutzman, Devra Laner and Jeremy Pearson explained the multifaceted history and import of the Living Lab.  Then it was time to tour the space, stopping by our active bee hives, spying out the small mosquito fish in the pond, experiencing the gravity of the Memorial Circle, and saying hello to our flock of chickens.

Gathering at the arbor in the veggie garden, O’Dowd Living Lab staff quickly outlined the day’s tasks, small groups were formed and work began.  The students from Cavalry Lutheran impressed all with their spirit and drive, tackling every project with a smile.  Some re-mulched paths and reset marker stones to prepare for impending O’Dowd student traffic, while others painted benches to waterproof them for the winter.  A particularly passionate group played the role that fire naturally does in our drought-adapted ecosystem, clearing away tons of old brush on the hillside and sheet-mulching the space to regenerate soil and make room for new growth.  Our veggie garden was heavily weeded, onions and tomatoes were harvested, and a few people even managed to visit the Oakland Zoo to retrieve some of the free compost they give away to Oakland schools.

It was a particularly hot day, and as the afternoon came to a close all were sweaty and tired. But a feeling of satisfaction and sense of completion permeated the group.  The group circled up again, gave prayers and thanks for the unique and memorable experience that was shared, and then the Calvary students and chaperones were off to a well-deserved night of rest.

Their week-long mission trip took them all over the Bay Area, with a different organization hosting them each day, and their experiences included working with the homeless in San Francisco to participating in environmental cleanup with Save The Bay.  We’re glad they got so much out of their experience with O’Dowd, and we hope to host Cavalry Lutheran Church again, preferably in less than six years’ time!


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