Flowers and Bullets Collective finds new ways to grow community during COVID-19
The Flowers and Bullets (F&B) crew started the year filled with workshops on the calendar, evaluations, training, murals, and other projects. By March, as the pandemic began developing, the team quickly recognized that they needed to shift priorities if they wanted to follow the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. They canceled all the training workshops that they had scheduled and postponed other hands-on projects at their Midtown Farm headquarters, including the Youth programming set for early June. The cancellation of the Youth programming this summer devastated the team since they anticipated a great response from the youth living in the surrounding barrio.
The team quickly evaluated and debriefed on how the pandemic affected each of them and their family members. Following CDC procedures, they met via Zoom, analyzed their alternatives, created group chats, and phone lists to support each other and others in the community, and share essential resources. They created a Covid-19 response team dedicated to the new priorities established as a collective and decided to strengthen their collaboration with other organizations, including the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, UArizona Community School Garden Program, Thunder Canyon Brewery, and Pivot Produce. They put in place health and safety protections for their farm Crew and volunteer workers and established protocols for produce handling.
On May 14th, the F&B team started distributing a COVID-19 kit that included reusable masks, hand sanitizer, and information on how to keep safe and connected. They handed out the kits through a drive-in system set at the Midtown Farm. They adapted the pay-what-you-can plant sales program to the drive-in system, and now they are providing free seeds to the community as part of their collaboration with the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona. Silvia Valdillez said that "Listening to the community that you are serving and being ok to shift priorities" was critical in helping the team deal with the challenge. "To prioritize awareness, we will post share-skill on on-line platforms and increase crop production to continue to serve our community while continuing a sustainable model," Silvia added.
F&B collective has increased its social media presence, and it's using a video platform to communicate more regularly with collaborators and the community they serve. Watch their videos here https://www.facebook.com/FlowersBullets/. For more information about who they are and their activities, visit flowersandbullets.com. If you want to donate, please go to https://givebutter.com/flowersandbullets.
Flowers and Bullets Collective, in partnership with the UArizona School of Geography and Development, received a three-year Challenge Award in 2018 from the Haury Program. Learn more about the project here.
Photo credit: Flowers and Bullets Collective