Kevin Fitzgerald ’06 grad and ’05 Brueggeman Fellow. After graduating in the first class of PPP students, I moved to Talanga, Honduras to serve with the Passionist Volunteer International program. Talanga, being a rural town in the second poorest country of the Americas, was rich with life and spiritually filled people. Our program reached out to the local community through many projects. I specifically worked with the Catholic Church to reach out to the sick and elderly and was an integral member in a senior center and library project. The work I enjoyed the best was reaching out the distant villages in the mountains which surrounded our town. In Los Izotes, a fellow volunteer and I helped the community through supplies and knowledge construct 45 latrines for their homes and connect with the Catholic Medical Mission Board to receive free medicines and health care products to stock the home of the local midwife/first aid station.
After Hondruas, I returned to Cincinnati to work with CRISPAZ, Christians for Peace In El Salvador, with whom I returned to Central America to help lead delegations. From there my education took me to Athens, Ohio to complete a Masters in Latin American Studies. My Masters research focused on violence in Central America and its links to United States’ policy on immigration, the funding of wars in Central America and the current drug trade. I specifically contrasted the historical experiences of El Salvador and Nicaragua and their current convergence as the ‘war on drugs’ continues to move the front line into new areas. I was able to travel to Nicaragua in 2009 as a Trip Assistant for Xavier’s Academic Service Learning Semesters and do first hand interviews and research.
Currently, I am living in Cincinnati and starting an urban agriculture endeavor. Urban Greens, through a startup grant from the City of Cincinnati and ‘slow money’ investors, is working to prove that urban agriculture is sustainable within city limits and can create jobs and healthy food for communities labeled as food deserts. We are currently working with City Hall to get a new ordinance passed that will establish zones for mobile local produce within neighbor hoods which lack easy access to fresh produce.
My year as a Brueggman fellow was the pilot year as Dr. Buchanan and staff developed their vision for the fellows. That said, travel was not yet a part of the fellowship. Instead, the meta-theme was dialogue. The dialogue of my studies that year was focused on the future of the world and how we as a human species could continue within the confines of 15th century nation-states while dealing with 21st century globalization. Hence, my research instead focused on the World power vacuum created by the fall of the Soviet Union, which left just the United States as a superpower. During the early 2000’s neo-conservative thought was surging with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan being proving grounds for the vision of Pax Americana, while contrasting visions of a more powerful United Nations or International Criminal Court type of structure were also being proposed to counter the sway of unilateral moves by powerful nations. Through the grant money I was able to do a year of service, post graduation, in which my focus flipped to a stronger focus on local government.
What They're Doing Now
I am currently a worker/owner of Urban Greens, an urban agriculture outfit which seeks to strengthen the Cincinnati community through promoting the consumption of locally produced fresh food. As a for-profit (but not much profit!) venture, our goal is to show that local food does not need to be supported through continual reliance on grants and donations, but through selling organic produce to the community. We hope to create a sustainable model that is based on education, community involvement, and good food