Resolutions to Better Care for Our World

Resolutions to Better Care for Our World

It’s January! – that sometimes frosty, sort of quiet, mostly post-holiday time when the promise of new achievements in a new year (and perhaps some festive indigestion and the awkward embrace of too-snug clothing) inspires many of us to make resolutions for self-improvement.

 The word January comes to us by way of ancient Rome and is named after Janus, the mythological god of beginnings and endings, often portrayed as a figure with two faces pointed in different directions. These ancient roots for what we call the first month of our year holds a special invitation for us today.

Janus teaches us to look back as much as we look forward – or better yet, to be circumspect, which literally means to look around. But look out! – looking around is hard to do when moving at full speed, so it’s also an invitation to slow down, to stop, or even to rest, “perchance to dream”.

Such an invitation is good news in a world so completely busy and preoccupied, so driven and distracted, so addled with stress and anxiety. The invitation that calls us to greater stillness, to greater awareness of self and others can lead us to a place of new understanding, where we might craft resolutions to better care for our world and, in the process, ourselves.

At Trellis for Tomorrow, we are deeply committed to this process of looking around, of cultivating awareness, of lifelong learning, of caring for our world through the work we do and the words we choose. But we are also done-in by drive and distraction, prone to busyness and preoccupation, susceptible to stress and anxiety.

As we look to a new year with an unwritten history, awaiting the collective creative work of our world stewardship, we are compelled to look back, and to look around.

Looking back, we can see the path that has brought us here over these past 20 years of work in our region; we can see the pressing needs in our world that spurred us to the creation of numerous programs and initiatives that have engaged thousands of people and positively impacted nearly a million meals; we can see the incredible collection of like-minded people who came together to identify and name our Core Values. Could they be your core values too? Learn more here.

Looking around, we see people in need of connection and community, we see a food system in need of change, we see an ecosystem in need of better partners and stewards, and we see a generation of young leaders eager to step up.

This January, we invite you to slow down, look around, and make your own resolutions to better care for our world. Then, find your place for you to stand with us and support our work. Learn more here.

We’d love to from you! Share your comments or your own resolutions here.

David is a staff member of Trellis for Tomorrow. As Senior Programs Manager, he comes to us with 15 years of experience in community building, social justice work, and organic agriculture. When he’s not at Trellis, you might find him tending the crops for his local tea company or supporting other efforts for a more equitable and sustainable food system.

Uncharted Roots: Why asking where your food comes from can make a big difference

Uncharted Roots: Why asking where your food comes from can make a big difference

Recently, a participant of our SEED Skills youth program asked the question, “Where does our food come from?” Without missing a beat, another participant replied, “the store.” Asking them to dig a little deeper, we pressed, “but where does the store get their food?” Reflecting for a moment, she answered matter-of-factly, “from the back.” And that was where their thread of understanding ended.

Trellis is dedicated to creating learning experiences for youth of all ages to improve their relationship with themselves, their communities, and the world around them. A significant component of our work is taking a close look at the systems we interact with daily. Particularly when it comes to our food system, we’re asking questions about how those systems work (or don’t), and where we can take steps to effect positive change.

Before you bemoan the fate or state of “kids these days,” I would put the same question to you: Do you know where your food comes from? Not merely naming the many parts of the system that work together to keep you fed, but holistically – down at the level where roots spread their fingers in the soil. Do you know?


Do you know the fields that grow your wheat or corn, the groves and orchards the grow your nuts and fruit, the farms or factories that nurtured or confined the animals whose lives nurture ours? Do you know the hands that tended your sustenance, or the names of their owners? Does it matter?

For millennia, the answers to these questions came to us easily – backyards, neighboring farms, family members, small grocers bringing together locally produced food – people you encountered with frequency, whose names and faces you knew. In recent generations, we’ve moved away from this type of community-based food system and into a system that has created numerous, unseen realities that have both positive and negative impacts our world.

If you’re reading this, you are the beneficiary of this globalized food system in at least one, but more likely in many ways. Resolving to grow our understanding of where our food comes from holds the promise of benefits for everyone and our planet.

When you begin with a determination to cultivate new understanding and a simple question, you will find yourself on a path to new questions – How far has my food traveled? How does that path impact the environment? Were the farmers treated fairly? Did the animals see sunlight and breathe fresh air? Further, how do the answers to these questions affect me, my family, and my community?

Because of our Core Values (learn more here), we believe that each of us has a role to play in the healing of our world, that we all can grow in new ways, and that working in partnership we can see things improve during our stewardship of our time together on this planet we all share. We hope you will join us!

David is a staff member of Trellis for Tomorrow. As Senior Programs Manager, he comes to us with 15 years of experience in community building, social justice work, and organic agriculture. When he’s not at Trellis, you might find him tending the crops for his local tea company or supporting other efforts for a more equitable and sustainable food system.













20 Years in the Making: Trellis for Tomorrow turns 20!

20 Years in the Making: Trellis for Tomorrow turns 20!

Introduction by Clemens Pietzner, founder of Triskeles Foundation (later Trellis for Tomorrow)

“As the founder of Triskeles Foundation, I was inspired to help build an organization that was about bridge building between ages, mindsets, backgrounds, and a broad range of learning and working opportunities—especially with and for youth, which could lead to pathways forward for individuals and their communities.

The organization’s youth programs began in 2002 and were based on a few simple but powerful guiding principles that hold true today:

  • Young people can and often do offer a great deal to and for their communities.
  • The world is complex and can be confusing; experiential learning can provide a path forward for young people in terms of skill acquisition; growth and self- development.
  • Access to, growing and understanding healthy food and food systems is a central building block to healthy individuals and communities.
  • Access to working/learning opportunities and exposure to positive mentors and service- to self, family, and community in a context of co-creating a better world for all, can provide inspiration and motivation.
  • Positive change is possible—in smaller and bigger ways.

Twenty years later, our world has changed, but I know that many, many young people, and their communities, have been and continue to be touched by these principles while participating in Trellis programs.  The testimony to Trellis’ success are the positive legacies and changes they, their families and communities, in turn, have experienced.

Being “of service, or in service” to others is a long-term journey and ever-changing experiment of social, financial, and relational realities combined with imagination, grit, determination, and joy. Trellis for Tomorrow continues to be on that journey!”

What inspired you to get involved with Trellis for Tomorrow?

Ray Schneider former Board President 2010-2021 | From the beginning I was drawn to Triskeles/Trellis because of a most unique approach to achieving a mission that was multidimensional — bringing young people into a close relationship with their innate capabilities, their health, and the health of their communities.  Over the years the organization has refined its programs and dramatically improved its ability to make positive change at both the individual and community level.  Seeing the impact on so many young lives, helping them reach their full potential, has been heartwarming and often tear inducing!

Tessa Henry former Youth Participant, current Board Member 2004-Present | In high school, I became increasingly interested in food and hunger issues. One of my teachers and mentors at the time encouraged me to seek a volunteer opportunity with Trellis. Immediately, I was impressed by their commitment to local gardens, healthy food, and providing professional development opportunities for youth in the Montgomery and Chester County areas. I was initially inspired by the leadership of the organization. Their vision and passion for fostering community gardens since 2003 was exciting. Twenty years later, the organization’s leadership continues to inspire me and the communities it serves. Last year, more than 600 volunteers dedicated their time in a local garden. This is a testament to Trellis’ dedication and extraordinary staff.  I am so grateful for their support, learning opportunities, and care that I proudly serve as one of their Board members today.

What was the field of gardening education like when you first got involved/started working with us?

Mark Birdsall Director of Youth Programs 2004-2016 | There wasn’t much of it. Federation of Neighborhood Centers, in Philly, had one program started about the same time as FFT and similar, but not much else.

What was your biggest “lesson learned” during your time with Trellis for Tomorrow?

Mark Birdsall Director of Youth Programs 2004-2016 Perhaps twofold: First, if you give young people truly real experiences, ones that are addressing the changes needed in the world, and if you connect them with adults passionate about their own work as part of this experience, then magic happens. Second, hire people to work with you who share as much of your passion and vision as possible, and then leave them as free as possible, including them in decision making and supporting them when they need it.

Tell us about one of your “firsts” during your time with Trellis for Tomorrow.

Mark Birdsall Director of Youth Programs 2004-2016 | I was interviewed on WHYY radio by Mike McGrath, host of You Bet Your Garden. He had heard about our Food for All program and invited me to talk about it and (Triskeles Programs) Trellis. Mike was a very good interviewer and we clicked, and I got to talk about FFA and many other things we were doing to a national audience on NPR. That was the first time I was on national radio!

What is one of your favorite memories from your time with us?

Ray Schneider Board President 2010-2021 | Some years ago during a Triskeles staff and Board dinner, we were discussing our programs, their effectiveness and future.  Right in the middle of our conversation, out of nowhere, our waitress interrupted and asked, “are you all from Triskeles?”  We all turned, nodded, and said yes.  At which point, on the verge of tears, she began to tell us that her son was a “graduate” of our summer program and described how the program had literally changed his life and maybe even saved it, because he wasn’t on a good path prior to his involvement with Triskeles.  Of course, the staff remembered her son and had all good things to say about him.  Well, that just about brought us all to tears – happy tears.

What do you like most about the culture of Trellis for Tomorrow?

Mark Birdsall Director of Youth Programs 2004-2016 | We’re an organization where we value each other’s strengths, support each other where they need support, and put our work for young people first.

How do we stand out from other organizations?

Ray Schneider Board President 2010-2021 | I believe that Trellis programs are uniquely positioned to answer the call so many

communities are making — help us to help our young people make better life choices and help us to help our community members live healthier lives.

Tessa Henry former Youth Participant, current Board Member 2004-Present |I first joined the organization as a youth participant in 2004.  Their youth programs taught me about sustainability, the significance of a healthy diet, and most importantly, what it means to be an active and engaged member of your community.  At the age of 17, I acquired new skills which became extremely valuable when I started my career as a young adult.  I honed my leadership skills through my time as an honorary member of their board when I was in high school.  I learned to empathize and strengthened my social skills when volunteering in community gardens and speaking on behalf of the organization to local businesses.

I use these skills every day in my work as a U.S. Diplomat overseas.  Being a public servant requires empathy and a passion to drive change.  Much of my desire to serve stemmed from my first interactions at Trellis.  I am a proud example of the steadfast commitment this organization has to the youth that it serves.  Their mission inspired me, their programs tapped my potential as a leader, and their impact today keeps me engaged as a volunteer in 2023.  Trellis is unique because their programs have a long-lasting impact for young adults.  Youth participants in Trellis are not only learning about food and healthy lifestyles, but they also go on to THRIVE and be successful in their future endeavors.

Do you have any advice for up-and-coming board members?

Ray Schneider Board President 2010-2021 | Future Board members should understand that being a part of the Trellis family means that your voice is important and the skills, experiences, and energy you bring are valued.  So don’t join if your goal is to just have a neat sounding non-profit on your resume.

Tessa Henry former Youth Participant, current Board Member 2004-Present | Be present.  We are often overwhelmed with our family and career obligations.  However, when you can engage Trellis as a participant, employee, or board member please remember that this organization really values your time.  Your contributions and skills really matter, and they will help this organization grow.  We want to hear your thoughts and ideas.  Being fully engaged is critical.