Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors

A Reflection Through Theory U: Where I Started and Where I am Now


By Jenna Augustine, Cohort 7

A journey through the U. 

First, there are threads of possibility. Potential, good intentions, and uncertainty.  Threads leading in one direction, threads that lead up and down, some that weave together, and others that are so different they stand alone. Which one to choose? Which one is right? Be still, all is coming. Listen and identify the problem. Who has the answers? Where do I look? Confusion, contemplation, meditation, work, hard work. Pause. Deep breath. Let go and ask for guidance. Breathe deep. The answer emerges. Ask the people you want to impact. Ask the people who matter. First ask the children, always ask the children, then ask the community. 

Wonder and listen. Listen with genuine curiosity. Leave assumptions, privilege, and ego. Find an answer. Unexpected, shocking and so deeply important. Food. Food is a right of all people! Children who are hungry cannot learn, cannot grow, cannot thrive. Food is the foundation for health. 

Next is fear. Fear of the unfamiliar, fear not being the right person to help. What do I know about food? How can I impact food systems? Ask, ask more, wonder. Realizations. Let go, privilege, assumptions, and more hard work.

Dig deeper, what is calling to you? The unfamiliar is scary and yet inviting, calling. Sit quietly, roots spread, ideas grow. Research. Keep the community at the heart of your work and dig deeper. Deeper still. A tiny seed deep in the earth, planted in the dirt, covered in darkness. It struggles and yet it is quiet. Waiting for water, waiting for warmth, waiting for its moment. Then it comes completely apart, and a new life emerges pushing roots deeper into the earth and a tiny delicate, powerful sprout reaches out to the sun. Then it happens, a crackling of an idea, a knowing, like a seed exploding to life.

An answer, an idea, a tiny seed of possibility. At first it is delicate and new, so you protect it and hold it close. Nurture it, explore it. Wonder and delight in the microscopic growth. Tend to the seed, care for the seed. Can a child learn to grow their own food, can families feed themselves, what does it take to provide a basic human right? Pause. Listen. Just like the seed my heart explodes open, my mind is open and my eyes open last. Revelations. Intentions, crystallizing. Together, community will grow, culture will emerge, and food will feed us. Together we will thrive, learn and dig deeper.

Crystallizing is the end of the story for this U, but is just a beginning.


The Leadership U:

I am deeply rooted in food access and ensuring that all young children and families have access to healthy and nutritious food. I am currently working at the City and County of Denver in the Office of Children’s Affairs on our Healthy Food for Denver Kids grant as an Early Childhood Program Coordinator. I also teach Health, Safety and Nutrition at the Community College of Aurora and University of Colorado Denver. That is a lot of words that really mean I work in food access. I sit at tables now and think about one of the most basic human needs, and how some people have access, and some don’t. 

February, on the surface, is the worst month to write about the garden, but under the surface seeds are planted waiting, waiting to spring to life. Leadership was the seed planted by the BECLP. The seeds of my leadership were planted by instructors who were patient, open to new ideas and possibilities. Instructors who were tough, but loved fiercely. None of this would have happened without them, instructors turned mentors. I often feel I’m the weed sprout in a full-blown garden of leaders. I’m hopeful, yet widely unaware of when and how I will be plucked from the garden because I do not belong. 

In the winter the garden sleeps, at least that is what it appears on the surface. It appears dead and lifeless, but every gardener knows that below the surface there is much happening. Organic materials decompose making food and room for future seeds and plants. What makes a leader? Tending to a garden so that all may grow. Planting seeds of possibility. Problem solving, creating a safe environment, re-imagining, re-planting,  and starting over. Sometimes we need to innovate, research,and tap into expertise re-discovering old ways. We have to trust that seeds and plants know how to grow, sometimes all we need to do is give them the space so they can grow and thrive. Leadership is taking care of yourself so you can take care of the plants. Planting seeds in hearts and minds and tending to what you can.

We cannot grow without food. Like plants, people need to be tended, watered, supported and most of all fed. Tiny seeds of leadership were planted, advocacy, lead from any chair, listen, think about who’s at the table, let go to let come. Like a garden, leadership is different every year, there are triumphs and failures. Sometimes I see myself just as I am, other times I feel the weed, a hopeful imposter. Leadership is not a destination or title, it is a million tiny seeds planted in our hearts and minds. Opening to possibility is the path, pausing and tending to what we can is the only way forward. Leadership is taking a seat at the table, listening and opening your heart and mind. Wondering what is possible and sharing the bounty of what you know. I am not the boss, I am not in charge, and yet I am a leader.

What seeds planted in your heart do you need to tend to? What seeds are you planting in other’s hearts and minds?