“Remember your ‘why’ and I encourage you to learn your peers’ ‘why’ as well. Why’d you wake up in the morning or keep trying to attain that goal? If you stay true to yourself, your goals and your environment will align, and you’ll be surrounded by like-minded individuals and, together, breed success.”
Jelani Folayan (he/him)
Graduated: 2023, Cohort 25
From: Harlem, Manhattan
Current Position: Compost Power Crew Member
The mission at Compost Power is to build out sustainable community compost sites across NYC with an emphasis on ‘underserved and marginalized’ communities, and to create an educational compost video series, providing all residents with access to waste equity, sustainable education, and job training.
Tell us about your current role and daily responsibilities.
“Working at Compost Power has been an experience never to be forgotten: taking food scraps and turning that into compost, doing everything manually – showing you the attention to detail that must be had. It comes off as if it’s a heavy workload but that’s just another way of getting in a good workout. What’s neat too is there is more to it than just a good sweat – like engaging the residents and educating them about the importance of what we do.
The beginning of the week starts off in Williamsburg working with the rest of the Compost Power team to move mountains (build them too) [compost windrows]. A simple day at [the] Forest [Eco-Hub] is the first thing which is vital to the whole operation – I take the bin temperatures [which allows me to] game plan each task [and then] once I get my tools, I’m moving compost. It’s hard for me to tell myself I need to take a break especially when you get to be so immersed with the work. I honestly have the most fun when I’m processing food scraps. I get asked all the time ‘doesn’t it smell?’ and it’s funny to see someone cringe at the sight of it [before I explain how it really works].”
Describe your career pathway. How has your GCF experience helped you?
“I worked a bunch of different jobs before I came to Compost Power and GCF – I’ve worked retail jobs, been in the foodservice industry, warehouses. Yet I always wanted an outside, boots-to-the-ground kind of job. Being able to take advantage of these opportunities brought to my doorstep is what really brought me here. [My] GCF experience helped me get to this position because I always saw it as being given a head start. I now know how to gain access to industries that will benefit me in the future to explore.”
What advice do you have for current Corps Members and other Alumni?
“My advice to current Corps Members is remember your ‘why’ and I encourage you to learn your peers’ ‘why’ as well. Why’d you wake up in the morning or keep trying to attain that goal? If you stay true to yourself, your goals and your environment will align, and you’ll be surrounded by like-minded individuals and, together, breed success.”
Achievements at GCF:
“Team Forest grew the most produce during the Cohort 25 term! [and being selected as] Speaker of the Cohort [at graduation]”
What’s your favorite GCF memory?
“I tried a GCF diet for about a week where I tried to eat only the food that I was growing from the farm. Like kale and broccoli and onions…I was always the one to harvest a cucumber snack. I’m super proud of who I’ve become since joining – I see a complete transformation.”
“GCF’s commitment to environmental sustainability and community engagement has instilled a deep sense of responsibility within me towards the planet and its inhabitants. Everything we feel negatively we can put into the earth and we will only receive back positive energy. Their emphasis on community service and outreach has opened my eyes to the pressing issues faced by our neighborhoods, inspiring me to take action and be an agent of change. When you help others they’ll do what they can to help you too. I found a way to break into the workforce and acquire a career. I wasn’t sure what my best talent was but what GCF taught me was that I am very adaptable. Thanks to GCF, I am now equipped with the tools and knowledge to create a greener, more sustainable future for my community and the world at large. I am forever grateful for the opportunities and experiences GCF has provided, and I highly recommend their programs to anyone looking to make a positive impact on our planet.”
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