Somehow, it is already October and we are almost two months into the year of service with LVC. The leaves are changing, the air is getting chillier, and I am still getting used to my new life here in the Twin Cities!
My name is Bex Klafter, I’m originally from New York City (yup, I grew up in Manhattan), and I graduated from Carleton College in June with a BA in Environmental Studies. Through LVC, I’m living with 5 other volunteers in “Redeemer House” — right across the street from where I work at Redeemer Center for Life! RCFL, for short, is a non-profit focusing on inclusive development in North Minneapolis through affordable housing, health equity, youth leadership, and much more. My role at Redeemer Center for Life is titled “Neighborhood and Park Liaison,” meaning I serve as the connection between Redeemer and North Minneapolis at large and Theodore Wirth Park. Theodore Wirth Park is about the size of Central Park in NYC (my home city!) and is currently under utilized by its closest residents in North Minneapolis. Additionally, the Loppet Foundation–an outdoors activities organization offering adventures like mountain biking, cross country skiing, canoeing, and more–just built a beautiful new Trailhead in the park. My role is to connect RCFL and the Loppet Foundation so North Minneapolis residents can enjoy the assets the Trailhead and the Loppet Foundation brings.
With all of these changes in my life–a new city, new work, and new friends and housemates– I have been taking it one day at a time. Thus I thought it might be useful to give a little insight into my average day.
A Day in The Life
8:30 AM: I wake up and make myself a slow breakfast (and lots of coffee!) while listening to a news podcast. Slow mornings have been one of the true gifts of this year–I’ve never had time to slow down and prepare myself for the day ahead. I often take time to journal, read, or just sit and enjoy my coffee.
9:30 AM: Off to work – across the street! Redeemer House is directly across the street from RCFL so my commute could not be easier! First stop: Venture North, RCFL’s bike and coffee shop. As an important community space, and resource, for my neighborhood, I love starting my day at Venture North and chatting with my neighborhoods, coworkers, and fellow LVC Volunteers at RCFL! And, of course, who could pass up an opportunity for MORE delicious coffee??
11:30 AM: I head over to the church offices to check in with our Director of Individual Donations. I have been working with her for the past month to plan RCFL’s 20 Anniversary Gala, conveniently held at the Trailhead! We review our plan for event publicity, finalize the program schedule, and divide up remaining tasks.
2:00 PM: I then switch gears and help in RCFL’s garden. Although assisting in the garden was not originally in my job description, RCFL is flexible and after learning about my passion for sustainable agriculture, I was encouraged to get involved with the garden! I love spending time out there, harvesting tomatoes, greens, and peppers and freezing them for the upcoming Soul Food Dinner, where community members come to RCFL to cook lots of delicious food and break bread together.
4:00 PM: I then bike over to the Trailhead to meet with Loppet staff about a bike ride in November, starting in North Minneapolis and riding to the Trailhead. Following the ride, there will be a reception at the Trailhead with snacks and an opportunity to learn more about the Loppet Foundation and the resources available to North Minneapolis.
5:00 PM: I then bike home and go for a walk in Theodore Wirth Park with a few housemates. I love admiring the bright autumn foliage, feeling the crisp air, and chatting with my housemates about our days. With the challenges of LVC, this park has become a place of repose and solace for me. I come almost everyday to walk or run, with others or alone. While I walk, I sometimes talk to family and friends on the phone, listen to music or a podcast, or just alone walk with my thoughts, decompressing. I am so grateful to have this green space only ten minutes walking away from our house and the time to spend in it.
6:00 PM: After the walk, I cook dinner with another housemate. We have enjoyed many types of dinner foods–traditional ethiopian food, curries, chilis, and plenty of yummy desserts! I love cooking and eating communally, so house dinner is one of my favorite parts of the day.
7:00 PM: As we sit down to enjoy our dinner, we answer a check-in question such as a high and low for the day. After this check-in, we begin our house meeting–a weekly meeting we have on Mondays to discuss house topics like our groceries, chores, and upcoming events, such as a free produce market, house game night, Mpd150 police abolition art exhibit and panel, and community mentor night at a brewery. I love how we all bring our own interests and backgrounds and get to invite each other to events that interest us and learn about new topics and explore new activities that we otherwise might not have had the opportunity try.
8:30 PM: After house meeting, we clean the kitchen and settle down in our living room to watch Shrek. As a collective childhood favorite, we loudly sing along and giggle at the movie that is truly enjoyable for adults and children.
10:00 PM: Once the movie has finished, I return to my room to read my book and get ready for bed. I like to joke that I haven’t consistently gotten this much sleep since I was 10 years old. But with such full days, I have to rest and rejuvenate to get ready to do it all over again!
The past few months have been a time of transition. Through the ups and downs of all the new in my life, I have felt so grateful for friends–new and old–who support me. I can’t wait to look back on these first few months and laugh, remembering the confusion and excitement of this time. I look forward to deepening my relationships at work and in Redeemer House, attending more social justice events, and getting to know North Minneapolis even better.
Even with the challenges of these first few months–getting lost on my bike, getting lost on the bus (I’m not very good with directions…), and navigating new work and new relationships–I can’t imagine a better way to spend my first year out of college!
By Bex Klafter, Twin Cities