COLUMN: Ask Ashley

“Ashley, after hearing about you changing up what you’re going to talk about I’m very excited, I love that idea. I saw that you went on the immersion trip over spring break, what’s one concept or idea you took away from the experience?”


Hope your week is going well, today makes the official start of the updated “Ask Ashley” column. Thanks for sticking with me as I transition into writing about new topics, I really hope you are able to gain something from it. 


Let’s get right into your question, I spent my first week of spring break in Detroit, Mich., with 18 fellow students exploring, learning, and immersing ourselves in the environmental injustices and sustainability issues these communities deal with. The group of students was made up of a multitude of majors, passions and future aspirations. It allowed for many perspectives to be shared and diverse dialogue. In addition, the combination of students lead to some of the most authentic, thought-provoking conversations I’ve had. 


Let’s make one more thing clear, I could write about this trip in much more depth but that’s what my final project for the class is for. Today, I want to focus on the aspect of community.


When I hear the word community, I used to think of individuals coming together under a common goal or purpose, now when I hear the word I visualize the Urban Renaissance Church in Flint, Mich., that changed my perspective. T


he Urban Renaissance Church introduced our class to a mindset their community lived and served by. The word is “ubuntu,” meaning “I am because we are.” The African philosophy behind this word highlights the importance of the relationships an individual has and how relationships form the individual. In comparison, to the individualistic society, we live in today worrying about yourself first and putting relationships with others second. 


When it should be flipped, you can only go so far by yourself, it takes those you're working with or those whom you consider being in your community to shape you and complete the journey with you. Take that how you want but I think it is evident today, and this concept goes well beyond just our relationships with other human beings, it could also include our connections with nature.


Equally, I will never underestimate the power a community has ever again. Seeing these resilient individuals throughout the places we visited in Michigan exemplified when you can organize, make your goals clear and articulate them to the public, things will get done. We met with a multitude of community centers such as the Grace Lee Boggs Center and many coalitions of individuals advocating for urban agriculture and environmental sustainability. 


All the work these individuals are doing truly shows your voice does matter in your communities even if you get ignored, the power of coming together is greater than the power of one. I’ll leave you with that to think about. Imagine the work you’re doing by yourself and how much you could flourish if you adopted a mindset that promotes and welcomes working with other individuals to be one unit, to be one community. 

The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily of The Torch. 

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