Week 3

Week 3: Navigating Conferences 

Images from the HAND conference website.

Housing Association of Nonprofit Developers

While my main focuses at work has to do with food security and community gardens, I am also given many opportunities to learn about the development industry, especially having to do with affordable housing. This week I had the opportunity to attend the HAND annual meeting. HAND is an organization which brings together development, construction, architecture, lending, and insurance firms to make it easier for affordable housing projects to take place. This conference stood as an opportunity to meet many people from a wide range of fields, and to have an honest dialogue about the need for and hindrances facing affordable housing in the D.C. area.

Staying afloat as an intern in these massive groups of seasoned veterans of your industry can be really difficult. The second day of my internship, I had an opportunity to attend a much smaller conference than the HAND meeting, yet had a much more difficult time. What I learned from that experience was that walking around a conference with someone who already has a lot of connections is the most useful strategy to learn from these giant meetings. As I quickly learned, these are mostly networking events, and many people already know each-other at these conferences. Therefore, having someone who has been in the field for a while is a useful person to be near. They can make introductions, give explanations, and be an overall guide as to how to get the most out of a large conference.

Raised Beds from the Dead

Raised beds at Webster Gardens.

On top of the conference this week, I still got my fair share of gardening done. My goal for work has been to seriously establish a garden at each property every week. This week, I focused on Webster Garden’s raised beds. Before I started my work, they were overgrown, low on soil, and lackluster. I amended the soil, weeded the beds, and planted tomatoes, beans, herbs, and pollinating flowers. At this property, there is a need to introduce children to the vegetables that can be grown and eaten. Now I want to take part in educating the summer group of kids to teach them how to manage a garden, and how to make the most of harvesting fresh herbs and veggies.


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