1. Accepted a management position with Reliable Street’s garden, as a volunteer alongside SHEPH
In October 2021 I was asked by Lockwood Cafe’s Owner if I would like to be put in management position for the garden on their property. Because she was on the property more often than the President of the non-profit Reliable Street Inc The garden was built by the local high school club SHEPH (Students Helping to End Poverty and Hunger), however students had limited time to work on it. I was asked in part because I was a regular customer who got along with staff and the community, and because I have extensive experience with gardening and appliedethnobotany. The owner of Lockwood Cafe offered me 50% discounts on everything I ordered in order to contribute toward the garden efforts, and two Lockwood employees expressed interest in helping as well (henceforth “Employee #1” and “Employee #2”). Both employees attended multiple meetings with SHEPH and myself, and one of them volunteered in the garden a few times. After discussing the topic with SHEPH and some Lockwood staff members, I submitted a proposal to install native tallgrass prairie surrounding the garden. Nissen approved the proposal on October 27, 2021.
I worked approximately 20 hrs/week for 6 months volunteering for Reliable Street. Volunteer work I performed includes:
Arranged for three prairie restoration professionals and one composting specialist (from ISU) to assist with on-site consultation and planning in order to formulate a workable plan. Also coordinated with the Ames Fire Department to ensure our plan complied with regulations (for prairie burns).
Per Nissen’s request, set up, co-hosted, and hosted multiple open mic events.
Regularly informed Nissen and the owner of Lockwood regarding garden/prairie updates. Remained open to feedback, and integrated ideas from involved community members.
Employee #1 remained actively involved in the garden and prairie restoration, but she was very busy she didn’t have time for hands-on work in spring 2022.
I want to say that up until the incident (described below), I honestly felt respected and cared about by Lockwood’s staff. Several of them went out of their way regularly to let me know I was appreciated and welcome. About every time I went in, various employees would write on my cup or my to-go box. I used to cut out the messages they would leave me and hang them on my fridge:
2. Volunteered to help set up and perform outreach for open mics:
At the first open mic I attended at Reliable Street, only a few other people arrived. It was a sparse crowd, but the space they had created was amazing. It reminded me of my favorite open mic of Ames past – the Boheme; just really amazing people creating fantastic, often avant-garde music together to create a scene where everyone is welcome. The President of Reliable Street (henceforth, President), welcomed us all graciously, and asked if anyone would like to come in a half hour early to help set up open mics. I live close and love playing music (guitar/vocals), so I volunteered. From that point forward, I showed up early at nearly every open mic, and was asked by the President on more than one occasion to host or help host events when she wasn’t present. I was under the impression we were friends, and never knew she harbored negative feelings toward me.