AmeriCorps flashbacks from Project Runway


You wouldn’t think a show about designing and making clothes would trigger a flashback to my days in Americorps, you really wouldn’t. If you were never in AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps, then there’s a lot about the day-to-day organization of our lives that you probably wouldn’t have thought of.

Since we worked in teams of up to 15 people, we share living quarters, a big 15-passenger van, and a food budget. While watching the contestants run around Mood (the fabric store) trying to find what they wanted within a limited amount of time, with a limited budget, I found myself remembering how I would do the same. We’d run around the Jewel, Shaw’s, Piggly Wiggly (whatever grocery store was local to our project) and try to spend as much of our budget as possible without going over. Our pantry depended on our choices, and we quickly learned to buy staples a maximum number of people could eat.

It was really fun, like having a giant family. By the end of the year, I knew I could buy Star Crunches or Nutella and it would make particular teammates happy to have a favorite treat. Oh, once I bought all the fixings for energy bars, and spent an evening making a quadruple batch. I wrapped them all in tin foil, and stacked them in a cupboard like silver bars. It meant not having to prepare a lunch, and they were popular. It made me feel good to prepare food for so many people, probably vestigial mother hen thing.

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