Monthly Archives

September 2014


CREATE Community Meal

“They began arriving hours in advance. Over 400 volunteers–farmers, cooks, drivers, mobile art kitchens, dance choreographers, spoken word poets, food servers, food runners, zero waste managers, and table hosts. And when the bell rang, nearly 2,000 guests followed the signs in Somali, Spanish, Hmong, and English and took their seats on Sunday, September 14–at a half-mile long dinner table along Victoria Street in St. Paul, Minnesota–to take part in the performance.

Welcome to CREATE: The Community Meal, the ambitious and jubilant public art event by nationally acclaimed artist Seitu Jones that has placed the urbanFrogtown neighborhood and Public Art St. Paul in the forefront of the nation’s growing conversation over food justice, and access to healthy food and farms.” –Jeff Biggers, Huffington Post.

Jeff Biggers was the reporter for the Huffington Post sent from Iowa to write about the CREATE community meal here in St. Paul. I was one of the table host volunteers at the event. Jeff sat at an empty seat at my table, there to interview and learn about the event.

He asked where all the people came from, some from Minneapolis, some from St. Paul, many from Frogtown, where the meal took place on Victoria Street. It was a community meal, so most everyone was from nearby, except for the reporter. I think he came to the event expecting to be an outsider, and removed himself from the meal and casual conversation. But everyone was there to meet and discover not just how this community meal would function, but the diversity of the people attending. The people at my table gladly answered his questions, but required him to also answer theirs. Everyone there was interested in getting to know one another. No matter who you were or where you came from, you had to tell your story. Jeff quickly discovered that the best way for him to understand this community meal was to take part in it and experience it first-hand.

The idea of this project was to promote talk and understanding about food justice and access to healthy food and farms. This topic was discussed, and if you’d like to learn more about it you can see it in Jeff Biggers’ post, but I most enjoyed hearing where all of these people came from. I really enjoy meeting new and interesting people—and these people were interesting. There were spoken word artists, radio hosts, and all sorts of community entertainers or leaders. And even better, people that are generally viewed as “normal”, but the best discovery in getting to know these people is to see that none are “normal”. Everyone there had an interesting story, a “cool” background, or just some way of living that was unique.

These are the types of events that bring a better understanding of what it means to be a part of a community, and to understand the benefits of diversity. I greatly enjoyed being a part of this 250 table long dinner, and am excited to look into more projects like this one.


Erin Smith~ Facilitator


Why the UST Mission Statement Matters

One of the important features of working with Business 200 is that the volunteer sites must comply with the UST Mission.  A question which many of us facilitators are asked is “why does it have to be this way, isn’t it just service hours and then some journals and I’m done?”  This is a question that has taken much reflection and research into the diction of what the UST Mission truly means.

The mission statement of the University of Saint Thomas reads, “Inspired by Catholic intellectual tradition, the University of St. Thomas educates students to be morally responsible leaders who think critically, act wisely and work skillfully to advance the common good.”  Now if broken up this has many different parts that are all substantial to the development both of the individual and of the school as we all move forward as students at UST.

For starters, “Inspired by Catholic intellectual tradition,” tell us that the non-profits we show support to should be in line with Catholic intellectual tradition.  This does not mean that the non-profits have to be Catholic themselves but that they should follow Catholic teachings such as being inclusive in its entirety.  It is for reasons such as this that we do not allow volunteers to clock in hours at organizations such as the Boy Scouts of America, who do not allow homosexual troop leaders as part of their organization.  By not being entirely inclusive the Boy Scouts of America does not follow Catholic intellectual tradition and is therefore ineligible.

Next, “the University of St. Thomas educates students to be morally responsible leaders who think critically, act wisely and work skillfully to advance the common good.”  This section of the mission statement applies more to the learning objectives all Business 200 students fill out for their first journal entries.  Although any service is welcome, to complete Business 200 a student should review their professional and career goals.  By finding a service site that will inspire the student to “think critically, act wisely and work skillfully” the student is building up skills that will hopefully help them in the future.

While every student is entitled to his or her own interpretation of whether they accept the UST Mission or not, it is important to correlate it to the Mission of the service sites in order to engulf the students in an inclusive environment that will give them the opportunity to grow and succeed.


By: Dylan Bakken-Facilitator


Charity in Islam

As long as the needy are in need and the helpless need help, community service/charity is a civic responsibility. Community service is not only beneficial to the recipient, but also to the giver. The act of service promotes personal growth and the acquisition of skills and knowledge. Service changes people, mentally, emotionally, and often times spiritually.  
Some component of every faiths encourages the giving of charity and the involvement in service. Islam in particular, considers community service or voluntary charity (sadaqah) a virtuous deed. Charity is considered a means of cleansing oneself spirituality. The prophet Muhammad peace be upon him (p.b.u.h) said, “Charity is proof of one’s faith” (Muslim, 432). By expressing one’s love of God into good-hearted actions,  Muslims strengthen their faith and relationship with God.
Muslims are encouraged to partake in service  frequently. Sadaqah (voluntary charity) is not constricted to the giving of wealth or material possessions. In fact, Islam considers all good deeds as charity. The prophet Muhammad p.b.u.h says, “To smile in the company of your brother is charity.  To command to do good deeds and to prevent others from doing evil is charity.  To guide a person in a place where he cannot get astray is charity.  To remove troublesome things like thorns and bones from the road is charity. To pour water from your jug into the jug of your brother is charity.  To guide a person with defective vision is charity for you” (Bukhari).
Every Muslim, in whatever state they are in, is obligated to give back to those in need. The prophet p.b.u.h says,  “Charity is a necessity for every Muslim’. He was asked: ‘What if a person has nothing?’ The Prophet replied: ‘He should work with his own hands for his benefit and then give something out of such earnings in charity’. The Companions asked: ‘What if he is not able to work?’ The Prophet said: ‘He should help poor and needy persons.’ The Companions further asked ‘What is he cannot do even that?’ The Prophet said ‘He should urge others to do good’. The Companions said ‘What if he lacks that also?’ The Prophet said ‘He should check himself from doing evil. That is also charity” (Bukhari).
In conclusion, by allowing various action, small and large, to constitute as charity, all Muslims, young or old, rich or poor, are capable to partake in charity and giving. By focusing on charitable actions for the sake of spiritual growth, we are able to distinguish the worth of material things and those of eternal value.
By: Anisa Abdulkadir, BUSN 200 Coordinator