PICA has been the most life-changing experience I have ever encountered. I became interested in PICA after doing research about university housing. Being a plant sciences major with an interest in agriculture, PICA was the perfect opportunity to learn and I jumped right in. I did not really know what to expect upon arriving, but any expectations I had were met and exceeded. I figured that I would be learning only about agriculture. The word that I had underestimated in PICA was “community”.
My housemates quickly became my family. Soon, we never left home, I did not see the need to leave when all the friends I have were right in my very home, PICA. In my perspective, the reason our family grew and flourished revolves around one simple thing: food. Food grown in the garden, food on our plates for community meals, and the topics presented on the politics of food.
Garden workdays are very calming and enlightening before a day of study. I wake in the morning to double dig, sow seeds, smell compost, and meet friendly people eager to learn more about gardening. Teaching people about gardening is amazing as well. Seeing the inspiration and desire to learn on people’s faces equally inspires my desire to learn and explore. The conversations that I find myself in always bring something new to the table.
Amongst our houses, we cook community meals every day. We have gotten into the habit of sharing and making meals for everybody instead of the typical single serving college student meal. A great question was posed to me the other day by Sheila. She asked me if I would ever have thought to cook communally without PICA. In retrospect, I do not think I would have. I do not really see any other way of eating anymore, if my friends are hungry, we will cook.
Some of the current PICAns, fellow workday regulars, and myself are starting a community off-campus together next year. We plan to create an environment like the one that PICA has nurtured. We will continue gardening and eating meals together, as well as sharing our knowledge and “fruits” or our labor with the greater Santa Cruz community. The only reason this plan was at all possible is because of PICA. It creates a platform where people can learn about community living at their own pace. It has no set requirements, accepts all, and everybody benefits. I can honestly say that PICA has forever changed my life.