Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Grandest Festival in Town

Intern Post Two
The vendors stand by as the deluge of locals streams through.  This is the Park Avenue Festival: by far the single most densely populated event that I've attended on behalf of the Friends of Ganondagan.  The sensory cues are just as charmingly pervasive as the people, I learn on my break while I'm walking through. Because the street is closed to traffic for several miles, and our stand is located roughly in the middle, it takes almost half an hour for me to walk to one end and back. Still, I savor every minute of my experience.

As I walk down toward Berkeley Street, I can smell the tantalizing aromas and take in the illustrious sights. All around me are market stands selling everything from delicate pieces of colored glassworks and various articles of clothing, to hallowed sandwiches, ice cream, and (virgin) piƱa coladas. I settle upon a baggie of cinnamon roasted pecans that I have been pining for from the moment I first laid eyes upon the booth. As I continue walking toward the end of the street, I gleefully dig into my treasure trove, stopping only when my mouth begins to feel dry. Fortunately there’s another booth on my right that’s selling one-dollar water bottles for charity. I gratefully purchase one with my spare change before making my way back to the Iroquois White Corn Project (IWCP) stand, where our immensely popular cookies have already run out for the weekend. 

Despite the shortage, we still get plenty of curious customers coming up to ask about the IWCP, though most of them with little to no knowledge of our mission or products.  I don’t mind; this gives me more opportunities to practice and improve upon the delivery of our marketing pitch while reaching out to more people.  Important as our sales are, the Friends is as an organization that seeks primarily to promote the vibrant living Native American culture that thrives despite the numerous struggles and hardships that its people have sustained throughout history.  Already it has been almost a month since I’ve been working with them, and I’m still learning how to integrate the gentle attitude of the culture into my approach to weeding, sorting, packaging, and selling, among other tasks.  I am happy to report that I’ve made substantial progress in all of these endeavors.

Just please don’t ask me to give away my roasted pecans.  

Incoming: A Bostonian Intern in Western New York

My name is Leah.  I’m a rising junior at Boston University pursuing a Psychology major and Communication minor.  I am currently interning with Friends of Ganondagan and have already learned a great deal about Native American history and culture.  I first started out two weeks ago with no prior knowledge of or experience with this nonprofit.  I’ve spent most of my time working with the Iroquois White Corn Project (IWCP), a business of the Friends.  Since then, I’ve gotten acquainted with everything from the process of weeding out ugly corn kernels to assisting at the sun-kissed farmers markets where the employees and volunteers sell products from the IWCP, including Hulled White Corn, White Corn Flour, and Roasted White Corn Flour.  

The Friends of Ganondagan’s IWCP has already gained local recognition for its gluten-free, non-GMO corn, the likes of which, in my humble opinion, has greater integrity than any comparable product in the mainstream market.  The average person who comes up to our stand has some awareness of the nutritional deficiencies in the typical varieties of sweet corn, thanks to the recent media spotlight on corporate-owned agriculture.  However, since the power of nostalgia-based food choices cannot be understated, I suggest you read up on the issues surrounding the origins of the food in your grocery bags.  If nothing else, you’ll develop a greater appreciation of the farmers and vendors who drive into the market at five and six in the morning to sell their wares.