Welcome to GordoLinks!

While some would argue that immigration has been the centerpiece of this experience, others would argue that the centerpiece has actually been FOOD. Trip leaders from Mexico have actually to calling BorderLinks, GordoLinks! After our initial delegation ended, we became responsible for preparing our own meals… yikes! We divided the group of Duke students into 3 teams, and have rotated preparing meals. It’s been so much fun cooking together and trying out everyone’s family recipes! We have quite a few ethnicities represented here, so we’ve had the opportunity to try delicious Mexican, Italian, Chinese, Indian, Sri Lankan, Greek, and fusion cuisine.

My personal favorite was Greek night – Chicken Souvlaki!

topped with tzatziki and paired with my Nouno’s classic potatoes!
 Part of eating sustainably means using everything… we wouldn’t want to waste food now would we?
Have over-ripe bananas and think it’s time to toss ’em? STOP RIGHT THERE. Peel and dice the bananas, and put them in the freezer overnight. Blend the frozen slices into a food processor, and voila! Banana ice cream! You don’t have to add ANYTHING ELSE (except chocolate chips if you’re a chocoholic like us)
I’m sure you’ve heard of mesquite BBQ, but have you heard of mesquite pancakes? The same trees that produce the wood used in mesquite BBQ produce pods that can be harvested and ground up to make a sweet flour substitute, and these trees grow all over Tucson. My team cooked up a few of these bad boys, and they were SO TASTY.
Is your mouth watering? Mine is.
The best part of cooking at BorderLinks may be the view of the Arizona sunset from our kitchen. Breathtaking every night!
Needless to say, that YMCA gym membership was a crucial investment.

Living at BorderLinks

As our program comes to an end (one week left!), I’ve done a bit of reflecting on all of the things BorderLinks has contributed to my experience here in Tucson. When I applied for this program, I knew that BorderLinks would be offering lots of insight into immigration and border issues as well as a roof over my head, but I had no idea I’d be learning so much about sustainability and community living.
Looking for a cup? How about the jar from last night’s spaghetti?
 BorderLinks living is all about reducing your carbon footprint. Lots of the kitchen utensils are reused – from the cups (jars!) to the “tupperware” (which is really just a collection of yogurt containers). You won’t find a paper towel anywhere, either, and I can honestly say I haven’t missed ’em!
When our pile of dirty socks is overflowing, we do our laundry outside with a grey water washing machine. It looks like your typical laundry machine, but it stays outside and requires non-toxic laundry detergent so the water can be re-routed to water the BorderLinks garden. Thanks to the grey water system, these tasty figs are growing beautifully!
They weren’t ripe when I took this photo, but they are now… SO YUMMY!
You didn’t think we wasted energy using a dryer, did you? Not with the powerful Tucson sun on our side! My laundry is dry within 10 minutes, I kid you not.
I’ve learned a lot about the ways my choices impact the planet, and how so many of my choices have been fueled by what was most convenient. Turns out the less convenient things can be unique and fun, and I feel a lot better doing them… except when the monsoon hits with all of my clothes on the line!

Bo-what?

This weekend we drove out to Cascabel (Spanish for rattlesnake – yikes!). We paid a visit to Sleeping Frog Farms, a 75-acre farm owned and run by a really awesome group of 20-somethings.

Now I know what you’re thinking… how on earth does anyone grow ANYTHING in the desert?? It’s called Bokashi, and we played a hand (or a foot, rather) in making Sleeping Frog’s freshest batch.

Bokashi is a form of enriched compost that can be made of any number of things. Our main ingredients were molasses, coconut husks, wheat bran, and effective microorganisms (a blend of anaerobic organisms that enhances organic matter). Clay, one of the owners of Sleeping Frog, dumped everything out onto the porch, and we stomped around until it reached the consistency and moisture levels of the nutrient-rich soil Arizonan farms desire.

The focus of our trip to Cascabel was sustainable eating, which starts with opting for locally grown fruits and vegetables before purchasing genetically modified produce from across the country. Price and convenience aside, you can taste the difference. Locate farmers’ markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area here.

Gus has his pick at leftover veggies and eggs at the farm, and if you don’t believe me, take his word – it doesn’t get any better than this.



Snapshots

It’s really hard to put what we’ve been experiencing and feeling so far into words, so since I’m always the one with the camera I figured I’d update you all with a series of photos.  Our delegation was a 10-day roller coaster; I learned so much, met so many fascinating people, and hope these photos will serve as a glimpse into what Tucson has been like for me up until now.