Indirect vs. Direct Service
Mar 23, 2016 by Stuart Haruyama
Tara Gupta is a member of the Leadership & Community Engagement [LACE] Fellowship, which is a 300-hour leadership program combining community service, critical reflection, and leadership training. Over the second half of the year, the LACE Fellowship students implement a personalized Capstone Project that connects their service experiences and leadership training to the RISD community in a meaningful way. Read about Tara’s Capstone Project and service reflections below.
Dear RISD Serves,
We’re past the hump of the year, and I’m getting into the second half of my time at Southside Community Land Trust. I think that a discussion we had between the LACE Fellows recently on direct service versus indirect service best explains my expectations of Southside versus the reality. It’s probably true that most of us, when we think of service, think organizations like Southside are focused primarily on helping people through hands-on activities and direct service, which refers to service that has volunteers interacting with the audience they are trying to serve. However, most of Southside’s work, and all of the work I’ve done while there, is indirect service. My duties include tasks such as data entry, sorting seeds, and mulching, but put in the context of the mission of SCLT, this work is invaluable. Southside enables, giving people the means to grow rather than giving away grown goods. And the maintenance of such an organization is more centered around tasks like entering and analyzing data and writing grant reports, rather than the artistic and farm-oriented work an environmental artist might idealize. While not as glamorous, or fun, I’m beginning to see how much more important indirect service is than direct service in solving community-based problems.
I hope to use my understanding of the structure of SCLT to organize sustainable programs of my own, combined with Film and Design. One such project is Floating Beds for the canal, which I am working on the maintenance and installment of, with teammates Grace Knight and Karsten Goodwin, ID ’18 working on the design. Another is the reinvigoration of the RISD Farm, which I hope will garner large student support! Already, our own campus’s farmable land is being destroyed by the chemicals that leech into the soil from a nearby golf course. But if we begin the project now, starting with raised beds then working over time to heal the soil, RISD may have a flourishing community farm of its own!
As my career develops from RISD student to whatever paths I take after college, I hope to keep connecting communities around me to food and sustainability. But for this moment, thanks for lending me your eyes.
-Tara Gupta, FAV '18
Interested in learning more about Tara’s work, the experiences of other Fellows, or the LACE Fellowship as a whole? Please join us on Wednesday April 27 (6:30pm-8pm, Met A) for the LACE Fellowship Showcase. The entire Fellowship cohort will be on hand to present their work to the RISD community.