Volunteering at the Fredericksburg Food Bank- Kam Tavarez

It is no secret that all over the globe, including in the United States, people go hungry. Not the simple my stomach is growling type of hunger, but the type of hunger that it closely related to starvation. Although many people all over the nation are aware of the hunger problem, it is still alive and well, even in our own backyards. For this second research project, Kelsey and I decided to go volunteer at the Fredericksburg Food Bank in effort to help put a dent in fighting hunger.

Upon arrival at the food bank we did not know exactly in which way we would be helping. Due to the fact thanks thanksgiving was around the corner, I thought we would most likely be helping pack boxes for families or sort out food for those boxes. I imagined walking into a small building and working in a small confined space. I was so wrong! The food bank was far from small; it was more like a warehouse that resembled a stock room at a major grocery store. Instead of preparing thanksgiving boxes for families, we were stocking shelves for other non-profits to come in and “shop” for the families they provide services to. This was far beyond anything I had thought. In my thoughts food banks took in donations and passed it down to families, and people in need. The actual picture is much bigger than my thoughts. The Fredericksburg Food Bank is the main supplier of all of the non-profits in the area; they serve the same purpose as a store. Food and non-food items are provided for these non-profits to take back to their own organizations for distribution in their communities.

While volunteering we had the chance to work with Julie, who is the food safety coordinator at the food bank. We asked Julie questions about how the food bank works and where they get their supplies and funds. I was surprised by some of the answers she gave us. The Fredericksburg Food Bank operates under Feeding America, a national organization dedicated to fighting hunger. Their supplies come from donations as well as stores like Wal-Mart, which send in whatever they can no longer sell, due to some sort of damage. I was curious as to how much government funding, if any, is provided to help keep the Fredericksburg Food Bank operating. I wasn’t too surprised to learn that the food bank receives very little government funding, although they are strongly regulated by the FDA. I was surprised though when Julie mentioned that the American Bakers Association is trying to also enforce their regulations upon the food bank in an effort to fight against food terrorism. Food terrorism? I didn’t know that was a real thing either but apparently it is. Food items donated are at substantial risk of being used for terrorist acts.

Now that you all have some background on what we actually did and the role of the food bank, I will explain how on earth this is related to power. One of the Fredericksburg Food Banks values states, “We believe in the power of the community.  We collaborate and build strong relationships, based on trust with and among those who share our vision of creating a hunger-free community.” Their overall main goal is to decrease the food insecurity rate in the Fredericksburg area. They accomplish this by bringing the power down from a national level (Feeding America), into a regional level (Fredericksburg area), down to the local communities (Churches and Non-profits). The Fredericksburg Food Bank takes power into their own hands by providing non-profits a place to access an abundance of supplies needed in their communities. These non-profits pay an annual fee in order to be a member of the food bank’s distribution point. Aside from these fees, the non-profits do not have to pay for any of the supplies they acquire. The supplies are weighed and tracked in order to make sure they are going to the right cause. The food bank then shows evidence to Feeding America that the supplies are going to families and people in need.

One thing that stood out to me from this was when Julie said that the Fredericksburg Food Bank would not be able to operate without being a member of Feeding America. For me this reminded me of how the large business and corporations hold all the real power. It just goes to show that although the goal is to end hunger in America, without large business and organizations none of that would be possible.


Case Study: UMW and MU Response to Threats on Social Media- Kam Tavarez


It is no secret that discrimination of all forms exists on college campuses throughout the nation. These discriminations range from all aspects of life, including sex and race. It is very unlikely that discriminations on campuses will go away, although the response from colleges and universities around the nation can help to at least reduce the presence of it if they respond the right way. For this last reaction paper I will be taking a look at the similarities and differences between the responses of two universities in regards to discriminatory threats. The university’s I will be looking at are, our very own, Mary Washington and the University of Missouri.

Earlier this year our university faced a lot of heat due to threats made on the social media site Yik Yak against members of the feminist united. The members of the feminist united as well as some student’s felt that the university did not respond in an appropriate manner. There was the perception that the university ignored reports of serious threats made against these members. The president of our university has also responded to the situation in ways that students felt weren’t appropriate, or sincere. The heat intensified against the university when one of the members of feminist united was murdered not long after a threat was made on Yik Yak. Many felt as if the lack of response from the university was a factor that led to her death. Some thought that maybe if the university would’ve taken these threats seriously this tragedy could’ve been avoided. The approach taken by Mary Washington lead to a tittle ix complaint against the university.

Just earlier this month a similar situation occurred at the University of Missouri, also involving the social media site Yik Yak. Instead of sexist threats the University of Missouri faced racial threats against its African American students. These racial threats come at a time where our whole country is affected by ongoing acts of discrimination and racism by police as well as our normal day-to-day citizens. The threats made on Yik Yak at The University of Missouri were direct threats, which included locations and specific dates when people were going to target any black student on campus. One of these threats stated “I’m going to stand my ground tomorrow and shoot every black person I see.”

African American students at the university felt unsafe and threatened and reported this situation to school administration. One student at the university tweeted to the Universities alert system “There is a @MUalert right now because black students are in danger. White people are threatening to harm black students.” In which the alert system respond that there was no immediate threat on campus, similar to the response given to members of the feminist united at our own university. Although the initial response by the administration of the University of Missouri was very dismissive students protest and efforts pushed for a much stronger response, which they received.

After the initial dismissive response, the lash back from the African American student community on campus led the university to take a much stronger approach, including, but not limited to the resignation of the resignation of the president of the university. One African American student on campus went on a hunger strike, and vowed to remain on that strike until the president was removed. Upon the resignation students celebrated the change that they help make. The president of the Missouri Student Association sent out a tweet after the removal of the universities president saying, “NEVER underestimate the power of students. Our voices WILL be heard.” The universities response does not stop there. They went on to work with local law enforcement and Yik Yak to find the people involved in posting these threats. So far their efforts have resulted in 3 arrests. These efforts are a significant approach that I believe should be taken on all campuses. By taking threats serious the university prevent an act of domestic terrorism on their campus.

The approach taken by the University of Missouri made me question our campus and why our administration did not conduct a deeper investigation on the threats made against specific members of feminist united. Taking theses threats seriously could’ve possibly saved a life. It is no secret that social media has a significant influence on campuses all over our nation; the key to fighting negative influences is in the response. Universities need to take notes from each other and learn from each other in order to come up with a good tactic in effort to fight situations like this.







Reaction Paper #2- Kam Tavarez Section 1

Over the course of this semester we have talked about many different non-profit and NIMBY organizations. My interest for my second reaction paper initiated after reading Hickey’s “The Geography of Pornography”. Before reading this article I never considered the significant impact that these frisky types of businesses have on local residents. When I think about what affects residents of an area I don’t necessarily think storefronts, I think about the tearing down of homes or empty lots within the neighborhood. Due to the fact that I never put any thought into those types of businesses, primarily because we don’t see any in this area, I decided to research other communities affected by frisky businesses in their neighborhoods.

In the article written by Hickey, residents of Minneapolis formed neighborhood organizations in effort for the removal of an adult business within a residential community. The article focused primarily on the feminist movement and on the fact that they thought pornography violated women’s rights. During my research I came across many states and communities whom also crossed paths with similar situations of unwanted businesses. Many of these states and communities had initiated NIMBY movements in order to accomplish the removal of unwanted businesses within residential communities. While doing this research one particular event stuck out to me, the NIMS (Not In My State) movement initiated by the state of New Jersey.

NIMBY is a recognized movement; prior to this I would have never even considered a NIMS movement due to the grand scale of it. This movement initiated in Sayreville, New Jersey after the opening of a nude juice bar known as “35 Club”. This nude bar was actually a gentleman’s club, which sold only non-alcoholic beverages so that their employees could work fully nude. The opening of this bar created an abundance of uneasiness and anger among residents of the community. The residents of this community fought for the 35 Club to be shut down by using the argument that its customers could take the short trip to Staten Island and enjoy the strip joints already established there. Another argument proposed by the residents was that this club went against a state law that stated that sexually oriented businesses must not be within 1,000 feet of a residential area or park.

This movement reminded me of Hickey’s article due to the fact that residents were arguing that the adult business was too close to residential areas and at a place where families had to walk by and women would get harassed. Like Hickeys article, change eventually did come but it did not happen overnight. It took the residents of Sayreville, New Jersey approximately 5 years to officially remove the 35 Club. The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that the availability of strip clubs in neighboring states was enough to keep these businesses out of local communities. “Today, this court becomes the first in the nation to suggest that a state can geographically restrict constitutionally permissive expression within its borders by offering a neighboring state as an alternative forum,” (Epstein 2012). The Mayor of Sayreville at the time, Mayor Kennedy O’Brian, was pleased with the final ruling of the Supreme Court. Mayor O’Brian stated that Sayreville is a community of families and agreed that these types of businesses should be kept out.

One thing I found interesting about the case in New Jersey was that adult bookstores were also included in the ruling. I found the similarities between Minneapolis and New Jersey to be very astounding seeing how they both had different outcomes. It amazed me that the coming together of the community of Sayreville had such a huge impact on the entire state. Unlike many cases we’ve looked at over the course of the semester, the case of New Jersey is one in which the residents voices were finally heard.








Baltimore Riots: Then and Now- Kam Tavarez Section 1

Baltimore is a city that has been in many headlines recently, mainly for the riot following the death of Freddie Gray. Many people have not taken into account that the riot in April of 2015 is a repetition of history. In 1968 the city of Baltimore was heavily affected by a similar riot. Baltimore never fully recovered from the riot of 1968. The city failed to put focus on fixing many of its damaging factors, such as poverty, discrimination and police brutality. This essay takes a look at the similarities between both riots to uncover why Baltimore today is still heavily impacted by its past history. Baltimore Riots: Then and Now

Fredericksburg Riverfront Project- Kam


Fredericksburg Riverfront Park Project (Community Plan Analysis)

All over the United States people are constantly trying to improve their communities. The community improvements can at times come at a hefty cost, both financially and economically, as we saw in the Atlantic Yards project. Although the Fredericksburg Riverfront project isn’t remotely as big as the Atlantic Yards project, for an area as small as Fredericksburg, it is a project of large impact. The Fredericksburg Riverfront Park project is a project proposed to improve the riverfront along side of Sophia St. The goal of this project is to create new public space in downtown Fredericksburg. In efforts to gain the space for this new park, the city had to tear down the former Prince Hall Lodge. The lodge building was not seen as being advantageous to the project, which is why they could not build around it. The Riverfront Project plans include a history walk trail, water play features, an amphitheater, boardwalk, shade structures and a boat dock. The development of the Riverfront Park was identified as one of high priority by the city council. The total budget for this project was set for $10 Million. The project layout is scheduled to be finished by the end of 2016.

During the planning of this project, residents of the Fredericksburg community were given surveys in regards to their thoughts of the project. Many of the residents brought up the issue of parking, they stressed that the building of this site would take away the already limited parking available. This issue was also brought up in the Atlantic Yards project, which leads me to the conclusion that improvements cannot be made without sacrifices. Another concern brought up by residents is the congestion of traffic the park would bring to the downtown area. Residents also stated that they want to keep the historical downtown Fredericksburg feel so they requested more historical incorporations. The city intends to address this residential concern with the integration of its historical walk trail.

As seen in the Atlantic Yards project, as well as our article of voter turnout, residents don’t always have a huge impact on projects this large. The estimated population in the city of Fredericksburg as of 2013 was 28,132 (US Census). The number of responses to the surveys sent out was only 284, a significantly small amount compared to the population size, which by now is probably even larger. Since the plans for this project have started in 2014, there have only been 2 public meetings in regards to this project. In my opinion due to the size of such a large project I believe the public should be more involved, since this is something that will affect their community significantly.

The plans for this project are ran by the Riverfront Task Force, which to no surprise is made up of mostly elected officials. The task force is required by the city council to incorporate the community’s input. Although I would like to believe that this Task Force is truly incorporating community input into this project, I am hesitant. From the class reading I have learned that when it comes to situations like this one, elected officials tend to find people of the community who are for the plans as opposed to being against it. I feel that in order for the Task Force to truly represent the community’s input, they should add actually members of the community.

The Riverfront Park project brings both pros and cons to the community. A fault I noticed in this plan is the lack of consideration for environmental impact. The park will be built near an area that is known to flood; yet there isn’t anything is the park plans in regards to how the storm water would be controlled. They also do not address how the construction of this massive new park will affect the riverbanks. These are two issues that I believe should be considered. I also noticed that the final concept plan did not address any of the parking concerns. This makes me turn back to the Atlantic Yards project, improvements and new locations are built for the public to enjoy, but parking is somehow not taken into consideration. The fact that parking plans were left out reinforces how little influence residents of a community really have.

Aside from the few faults I’ve noticed, there are positive aspects to this project. The Riverfront Park Project will provide a space for the community to gather, this can improve the overall relationship among the city. The park will be built in a part of town that is historic; this upgrade may attract new people to visit the Fredericksburg community. The attraction of outsider’s will provide growth for the city of Fredericksburg. I do believe that the park will also bring improvement to the overall atmosphere of downtown Fredericksburg.

The plans for the Riverfront Park project have been approved and put into effect as of recently. The vote to move forward with the project was 4-3, with three council members opposing (Gould). The three council members opposed to the project mainly because of the historical aspects. They fear that the park will bring attention to the “bad history” of Fredericksburg. History is an important aspect of our lives. To truly live within and understand our community, we must understand both the good and bad of the past. I am looking forward to seeing how the plans for this project play out.



Works Cited

Fredericksburg Riverfront Park Plans. (2015). Retrieved September 30, 2015, from http://www.fredericksburgva.gov/DocumentCenter/View/3853

Gould, P. (2015, January 14). Riverfront Park plans move forward in Fredericksburg. Retrieved September 30, 2015, from http://www.fredericksburg.com/news/local/fredericksburg/riverfront-park-plans-move-forward-in-fredericksburg/article_ac94adf1-4f28-50c1-b7cd-0ce1c1368c97.html

Riverfront Project Documents. (2015). Retrieved September 30, 2015, from http://www.fredericksburgva.gov/DocumentCenter/View/3005

Welcome to an Engaged Community. (2015). Retrieved September 30, 2015, from http://www.fredericksburgva.gov/index.aspx?nid=982

Welcome to an Engaged Community. (2015). Retrieved September 30, 2015, from http://www.fredericksburgva.gov/index.aspx?NID=1095