First day was great. It’s amazing how the group has come together. They all received power tool training today in the morning as we will be spending most of our time working on a house that was built in 1918 and has been purchased by the Turkey Creek Land Trust. This afternoon while one group worked on constructing a scaffold/work bench for the group to use while at the worksite, another group visited the local high school to inventory and clean-up their science lab. Believe it or not they haven’t had a science teacher or for that matter a science class in the school for a while. Very strange!!! Tomorrow the group will learn how to hang sheetrock and spackle.
We had the honor of meeting Miss Rose Johnson, the founder of the North Gulfport Community Land Trust and found her to be a well-spoken, engaging and loving woman; such an inspiration. It was the perfect sendoff to hear from her before we were to begin working on helping with the restoration of this historic home.
~ Mrs. Hanrahan and Mr. Drossel
Today is a very tiring day. In the morning, I was so cold that I woke up during the sleep 2 – 3 times. But today is the first day that we really learned something new in our working place, a beautiful, small house. So we went to the house first and found that the house itself is just like a “skeleton” without any decoration and boards inside the house. So Mike started to teach us how to work, how to construct a house. He first taught us how to use those tools, but most of them, if not used properly, are really dangerous. So I wanted to try first with the drilling and cutting. I wanted Mike to point out what I might do wrong. Surprisingly, I learned so fast that I met only a little trouble, and Mike said I’m a good learner. Later, when we finished training, we started a real job. To be honest, even thought it was the first time I got to learn these things, I was curious rather than fearful. Maybe it is because I have learned everything from Mike already. During the process we worked so hard and concentrated so much that we did not even notice the time passing so quickly. We made 2 tables by the end of the workday. The first one took us a long time since we did not really know how to cooperate swiftly and use tools effectively. However, the second table only took us about half an hour to finish (the legs were already constructed); everyone knows his or her own job. What an interesting day I had!! I had never even thought about working on building houses, but now I do. After working, we also visited Turkey Creek, the place that we need to protect even thought it did not interest me as much as the job of building at the house did.
~ Guorui (Bob) X.
Construction of Scaffold/Work Bench
Today I woke up at 6:30am and feel so cold because last night I did not have any things to cover my body so I got a lot of nightmares. After eating breakfast, we took 5 minutes to drive to the house that we will be working in. Mike, who is very good at building houses, teaches us different names of different machines and of course the skills needed to use the machines. Then he told us our goal today is making a bench in a day. We learned how to use the cutting tools (hand, miter, circular, jab and hand saw) and how to read the measurements on the measuring tape. Then, we used the cutting machine (miter saw) to cut different lengths of wood that we need. Then, we use the drill to set the nail on the wood and correct each other step by step. In the measuring step, we should read the measurement accurately because if we make a mistake, we have to fix it or cut the wood again. We have to be very careful. With Mike’s help, we took 3 hours to build one and a half tables in a day. We felt so tired and exhausted. But, it’s very interesting to know how to build the bench and, for me, it is a very good experience.
~ Yinru (Jason) S.
Turkey Creek Hike
We went on a hike along the Turkey Creek right after we came back from work. My feet were freezing cold and I was really tired because I haven’t slept well for days. The entry was not easy to find. The whole park was like some secretive base. I felt like I was walking through the closet in the story of Narnia. I had no idea of where I was going. I went hiking in Saddleback Mountain in California several times, but Turkey Creek was different. Turkey Creek was heavily polluted. It was supposed to be a habitat for migrant birds, but I didn’t see any of them. The bridge was falling apart (a couple of pieces of wood on the railings need repair) and there was trash on the road. I hope that Turkey Creek’s environmental problem can be solved as soon as possible.
~ Yingqi (Ingrid) Z.
After a long day of travel, with pickups starting at 3:15am at the houses with temperatures at about -3 degrees F, leaving MacArthur airport in Islip, New York at 7:10am, arriving in Fort Lauderdale, Florida just in time to board our connecting flight to New Orleans, arriving in New Orleans, Louisiana (with temperatures of about 43 degrees F) to take two vans another 1.5 hours to our destination, we found ourselves in Gulfport, Mississippi!
We have settled in at our quarters in the Mount Pleasant United Methodist Church and all is going well so far!!
We are looking forward to the adventures that tomorrow will bring.
~ Mrs. Hanrahan and Mr. Drossel
Finally, we are traveling. I hope not to begin our trip at first, but when the time comes, I have to go. I woke up at 3:00am to wait for the transportation to take us to the school first. I remember nothing but the heavy luggage on the bus and the tired emotions on everyone’s faces. I understand that nobody may feel happy about the trip, but since Drossel said that the trip would be fun, I have to trust him. During the pick up, we missed two girls along the way, which might be a bad sign to begin with. Every trip should begin with a good sign, I guess. Therefore, I choose to drink coffee on the flight, because coffee is my favorite thing to drink and I believe that it will bring me good luck.
When we finally arrive at the airport, it was so cold outside that I could not even feel my heat in my body. I’ve never experienced cold like this. And I thought that Mississippi would be very hot, so I did not bring any thick clothing. A bad sign again! Hope the God in the Bible would bless me for the entire trip. There was nothing much needed to say during the flight. I slept all the way since the time I got on the airplane until the time I got off the airplane. Martin lost his contacts during the first plane flight, which is interesting I think; another bad sign. And then I switched to another plane, which only takes us about one and half hour to our destination. After arriving in New Orleans, Louisiana, we had lunch at Subway. I had a foot-long club, which I guess is the last meal we would have in a modernized world.
At the house in Turkey Creek, we played some games to decide who would be responsible for cooking dinner. Jason tried to beat Mr. Drossel, but mistakenly let him fall. Seeing Mr. Drossel have so much energy in his body, I felt so proud of my Ross School.
It is policy to collect all of our phones and laptops. Cutting down the connections from the outside world is just like rejecting modernization. I don’t think this policy will work, but let us see in the future.
~ Bolin Y.
Today we watched a powerful documentary film about the struggles of Turkey Creek and the community’s efforts to overcome them with the help of Derrick Evans who shows how a great leader can make a difference. “Come Hell or High Water: The Battle for Turkey Creek” was created by filmmaker Leah Mahan and illustrates both social and environmental injustices that were imposed on this community. Many thanks to Leah Mahan who made the viewing of her film possible.
Tomorrow, we begin our adventure!
~ Mrs. Hanrahan and Mr. Drossel
Reflection on Film
Most people in Turkey Creek are Afro-American and they are trying to defend their land from the government. The government is cutting down trees and making the surrounding town more commercial. Government wants to make the town more modern. People in Turkey Creek are unsatisfied because the government is taking away their neighborhood.
Derrick Evans is a Boston teacher who moves home to Mississippi when the graves of his ancestors – former slaves who settled on the Gulf Coast in the 1860s, are being desecrated to make way for the sprawling city of Gulfport. He’s trying to help the people of this community preserve their heritage. His role is a leader in the battle to save Turkey Creek. In order to help save the town, he decided to fill out an application to ask for his and others’ homes to become a part of the National Register of Historic Places. He invited representatives of the local and state government to attend a town meeting and talk to people who live in the community. One of the things they discuss is the disregard for the wetlands and their environmental purpose. Wetlands are important for proper drainage. However, many in the government are just interested in progress, not believing this is true. Flooding from the river destroys some communities.
The state of Mississippi received funds from the Federal Government to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina, but instead of rebuilding people’s houses, the government used the money to build some big buildings for profit, for the economy. The government will be able to gain a lot of benefits from this. If they cut down the trees, the environment will be destroyed.
~ Chengzhi (Martin) M.
Interesting link: Bridge the Gulf Project
Finally M-Term is here. As the most interesting and exciting term at Ross School, this year’s M-Term came much earlier than last year. For this year’s M-Term, I selected a community service trip to Mississippi state. We are heading to a local African-American community named Turkey Creek.
This is the first day of M-Term. We are not going to Turkey Creek until Wednesday, so all we are going to do today is to do some research on Mississippi State and Turkey Creek. As I’m doing my research, I realized that this trip to Turkey Creek is going to be so different than my last trip to Panama, which we didn’t really do much for Panama. Turkey Creek is a community established by slaves that are freed due to the Civil War. Although they were freed, people in the country, especially in Mississippi are not accepting them as a part of the community so African-Americans have to build their own lands to live. They bought 320 acres of land in North Gulfport and named it Turkey Creek. This is the origin of Turkey Creek. Turkey Creek is in a self-sufficient system that isolated them from the outside world. As Gulfport kept developing, the city started expanding to the North. As soon as an airport was built next to Turkey Creek, this land became much more valuable and the Federal Government started attempting to take over the land. However, this attempt is failed for sure as members of Turkey Creek community are so strongly united that the Federal Government cannot persuade them in any way.
Not long after people celebrated the success of saving their community, Hurricane Katrina heavily attacked Turkey Creek. Turkey Creek is not a highly developed community. In fact, it’s a self-sufficient community so people have to ask the Federal government to rebuild their homes. The government took this chance to build a market and toxic factory in the community.
What we are going to do there is to learn about the society there as well as help the community to do whatever they need. This the first time I ever participated in community service and I am really looking forward to it.
~ Hainiu (Johnny) X.