Posts Tagged ‘Community Gardening’

Les Urbainculteurs

I’ve posted before about Todmorden, England, but I had no idea Quebec was doing so much with urban edibles! This is fantastic and really inspiring to see a city so committed to food security, beauty and empowering locals. Other cities could easily copy this model, and I hope they do!

Les Urbanculture uses the Big Bag Beds and Smart Pots I mentioned Continue reading

Saving Ron Finley’s Gangsta Garden

I’ve previously posted about Ron Finley, aka “the Gangsta Gardener,” the world’s most famous “guerrilla gardener,” but I wanted to make a special post today as Ron and his team fight to save the beloved South Central Los Angeles community garden that has inspired so many people worldwide. Not only has Ron kept urban youth out of gangs and helped turn around health issues that directly stem from poverty — by  addressing the problem of food deserts in his area, he also started a movement with supporters and activists all around the world.

Here’s the TED talk that put Ron on the radar of so many movers, shakers, social justice warriors, and innovators:

Ron Finley’s ripple effect is huge! Along with Colette at Bealtaine Cottage, Ron was a key inspiration for me to accept the 2012 challenge of this crazy, horribly broken and ugly yard in Goshen. As David and I prepare voluntarily to transition elsewhere, Ron faces unwelcome and massive pressure from Strategic Acquisitions, Inc., who have threatened to evict him and destroy the entire Gangsta Garden if they don’t pay $500,000 by the end of this week. I’ve already signed the petition, donated, sent Reiki and also wrote a letter on their behalf to Strategic Acquisitions. Amazingly, they have raised over $318,000 from gardeners, fans, and high profile supporters like Bette Midler and Jason Mraz.

But they need more. If you click through to the latest update, you’ll find quotes from inspired people from around the world, including part of my letter urging Strategic Acquisitions to consider the opportunity for modeling community capitalism. It turns out that Maureen (“Mo”), the campaign manager knows Goshen well! Small world, but she visited here many years ago and wrote to personally thank me not only for my letter but also because she knows that Goshen “needs the love” I’ve poured into it these past 4.5 years.

Ron and his community have poured love into the Gangsta Garden for longer than that, and they’ve built a network of kindness, support and empowerment. This is much more than a garden. It’s a movement, and I hate to see some rapacious corporation devour all that love, nature, better health, and effort. If you feel so moved, please consider signing their petition, donating and/or sending a whole lotta love and Reiki their way. They’ve done a beautiful thing in South Central L.A. and touched hearts around the world.

I find myself crying as I type this, wanting so much to see humanity rise beyond those who would control our food, bodies, minds, hearts and souls. People like Ron and his Gangsta Garden crew have overcome so much and been the change they wish to see in the world. May they find whatever they need and receive fourfold blessings from this ordeal.

Heartfelt thanks and blessings to anyone who feels led to offer your support.

You’re Grounded

I left the following as a comment to Colette on her Bealtaine Cottage Good Life blog post, “Facing into Climate Chaos.” This is her paid subscription blog, but you can find out how to access those posts by clicking here onto her free blog.

I decided to bump up my comment here, because I’ve recently received some frantic emails from people suddenly recognizing that life as we know it might change in a heartbeat. Of course, that’s always been the case; most people just haven’t realized that Western Civilization cannot possibly continue with the same old same old. Neither do most people acknowledge in any real way that “Mother Earth” might actually be our mother. As in, the dispenser of tough love when Her children have gone far too out of bounds.

My point in the comment is that discipline can be a very good thing. I recently got to witness the results of such tough love, this time from a father, and how, over time, his child came to thank him for his seemingly harsh discipline and consequences, now recognizing the correlation between his line in the sand and her renewed and dramatically improved quality of life. This story and others inspired my reply to Colette’s post:

I agree with you, Colette! I’ve often thought how Mama Earth may one day just yell out, “Enough is enough!” effectively confiscating humanity’s many toys and saying, “You’re grounded.” There’s a huge methane leak in California right now that could do just that. Like Fukushima, not being able to stop this has implications for the entire world, and Nature will kick in somehow whether with human cooperation or not.

For most people, this will be a difficult initial adjustment, but for those who’ve taken steps towards resilience and community preparedness, “this could be a good time,” as the Hopi say in their prophecies. A world with no more wi-fi, no more mindless consumer culture, no more television, and no more fracking would shock many, but think of the potential uptick in quality of life! People coming together, sharing their lives and telling each other stories face to face instead of burying their heads in glowing boxes. All sorts of things could happen.

I don’t pretend to be ready for the radical shifts that may come our way, but I’m readier than most and like you, willing to share whatever I do know. “You’re grounded” sounds like a punishment, but it also means, “you’re earthed,” and “you can’t be fried by the surges of energy.” Being grounded heals us and allows us to move through chaos with Grace. Thank you for modeling that to so many! xx

Pity or Respect?

More Fukushima article fall-out, but thank you, “Nine,” for opening this line of discussion:

Nine says:
January 9, 2014 at 3:48 am

Dearest Jean and dearest Laura….

Is not fear maybe the best “gieger counter”……as it were….

I would think that one would explore what dear Goldwing had to say…..

All I can say is that where I live….and so shh…it is a secret and all I can say is that where I live and all of that land around me is a spiritual place and I will not leave it…..no matter….

The thought of not going outside to commune with such power and beauty is well….not an option for me….

This is the feminine side of things….

The masculine side is saying…..we need to take up arms….to fight…..to protect……..

And so it is a war of the unseen….

Dearest Laura….

Might I quote you?

“I do, however, also occasionally interact with people who don’t even know what Fukushima is, who have no idea why we’d want to avoid GMO’s or even what they are, who think “energy work” involves an electrician, and who live paycheck to paycheck from jobs that don’t require them to think beyond the immediately pressing details of their lives.”

Can I move to where you live? Please tell me where that place is?

Umm…..that is the American condition…..as it were….what you described in that comment…..

And so I totally understand what you are saying….and it is quite true you know…..

I am not calling you on this I am just saying that since this is how things are with many folks could you have pity? I mean upon us for our ignorance…..

I simply have decided to look within for guidance since when I look out I get so confused…..

Oh….and yes great healing comes from within….I have experienced some of this stuff…..

I have few answers….

Nine
Reply

laurabruno says:

January 9, 2014 at 9:53 pm

I do not pity people, but I do believe in empowering them to help themselves. I live in Goshen, IN where we are actively working to connect schools, soup kitchens, funding for entrepreneurial enterprises for the unemployed and underemployed, churches, homeless shelters, community gardens, community organizations, food banks and Seed to Feed gardens for food banks, co-housing opportunities, and local government together so that we can all share and brainstorm resources to help lift Elkhart County out of the severe (most severe crash in 2008 of anywhere in the US–was on Obama’s campaign trail for that reason alone) poverty that occurred nearly six years ago.

I only moved here in November 2012 to care for my boyfriend’s aging parents, but I am proud to be a part of this community. People care about each other enough to spend their free time learning Spanish so we can communicate better with people who have expressed a need for us to learn their language. People care about each other enough to donate massive amounts of homegrown produce to food banks and the local soup kitchen. Unlike most soup kitchens, this one serves anyone who wants to eat there. Some people pay and some people don’t. It is not considered a stigma to eat there, unlike most soup kitchens.

We are surrounded by Amish people, and most of the people in our town, even if considered way below the poverty line, find time to volunteer and to make music together. A benefit concert this holiday sent over $1,100 directly to Phillipines relief, as well as money to help a local family whose house burned down that same weekend. These were donations from people who don’t have much if any money to spare.

Some know about Fukushima. Others just know about their neighbors and their family. They don’t know what a GMO is. I don’t pity them, because they are some of the purist, most loving people I have ever encountered in 40+ locations all over the US –from Lake Tahoe and Monterey, to New Mexico, Sedona, Chicago, Madison… Oftentimes people here apologize for how their town isn’t fancy or as progressive as California. I tell them what they have here–what we have here– is priceless. So no, I don’t pity people. I do look forward to gardening with them and continuing to help some of the local high school kids whose parents are in jail or other circumstances–to continue helping these amazing kids interact with caring adults in our community. They are great kids who deserve respect, not pity, and they appreciate people who see them as fellow humans despite their differences.

Blessings to you in your sacred land. All land is sacred, as is the delicate realm between human hearts.

GMO’s and Food Security

I haven’t blogged much about this because I wanted the event to stand for itself, but three of us from Transition Goshen reached out to organizations and creative, involved individuals in our city and nearby Elkhart to put together a dynamic week called Share the Bounty. We and partners like our local food co-op, the Farmers Market, individual farmers, a local food alliance, directors of food banks, Church Community Services, local politicians, community gardeners, representatives from schools, and many others are joining together this week for round table discussions, public screenings of the film “A Place at the Table,” an Open Space meeting about food security, a co-op board meeting open to the public, and a Harvest Festival that donates funds to double SNAP credits at the Farmers Market. Last night I attended a food insecurity panel discussion hosted by Goshen College’s EcoPAX.

I am both humbled and thrilled on a moment by moment basis to be a part of this community. The level of caring, cooperation, devotion, creativity and willingness to get down and dirty (sometimes literally) with our community’s (and country’s) most pressing problems is astounding to me. Every person I’ve met this week and during the two weeks of planning, phone calls, meetings, discussions and emails that have resulted in this week … without exception, every single person has blown me away. I learned that after the 2008 crash, some areas of Elkhart County experienced 70-80% unemployment. Let that sink in a moment. 70-80%. We didn’t live here then, so when we arrived grassroots strategies had already developed by sheer necessity. Today, Goshen has experienced a real renaissance, especially in the areas of local businesses, music and local, organic food.

But we are far from finished addressing the 2008 downturn. The stories I’ve heard talking with teachers, guidance counselors and food pantry workers are heart wrenching, and they reveal a majorly broken system. Expanding welfare and food stamps isn’t going to solve the problem. Neither is getting a third job. Last night we discussed ways of — OK, I brought this up myself — “busting the entire paradigm, breaking through the box, when two jobs isn’t doing it, the third job’s not the solution. Who’s telling these people to quit their second job and volunteer at a CSA and get abundant, free food? Who’s telling these people how to assess their community’s needs (fresh, local food) and helping them to become entrepreneurs? The system’s broken. Why are we trying to expand it? Let’s build a new system.” To my surprise and delight, I was showered with business cards, offers to connect with grant writers, local farmers saying they would love the extra help in exchange for giving free food, local businessmen excited about how providing living wages in one area forces places that aren’t to start improving their wages or they won’t have employees … . Ideas were off the charts!

I have confidence that we are onto something in our area, and food security is gradually beginning to morph towards food sovereignty.

It is with this background — six months of efforts to increase community gardens and implement food forests in projects that specifically engage those who most need them, as well as November’s incredible push to get this event off the ground — that I wrote the following comment in reply to someone’s reply to my earlier comment on Jon Rappoport’s blog. It’s long, but I present it here for larger consideration by people frustrated that we still don’t have GMO labels, bans or even the awareness that such things might be necessary for the continued survival of many species, including our own:

@CriticalThinker, I agree with you that “having a different opinion than someone else and presenting supporting evidence and logical arguments for this viewpoint isn’t ‘attacking people’.” I was referring to numerous earlier posts that have resorted to name calling, outright mockery, misquoting and unsupported (though suspected) allegations, which I WOULD put into the category of attacking people.

RE: “raising consciousness,” I am referring to everything from discussions about what is in GMO labeled food; to teaching people how to prepare fresh, mostly raw organic food and encouraging them to see how their brain works differently; to yes, some of these commercials and strategies Jon suggests; to offering various models of how a positive, healthy world could look for people who are so far from that mindset or awareness that they can’t (yet) even imagine what that would look like.

Before you call that last one vague, I will share that we are actively doing this at the local level where I live, and I know that other towns and cities have pockets of people doing the same. The message in this case isn’t “Your food is poison,” because some of the people we’re working with don’t even HAVE food. At the local level, we have organic farms dedicated to feeding the poor high quality food, teaching them how to make that food and helping them to get back on their feet enough so that they have time and energy even to CARE about something like GMO’s. The unpleasant fact in the US is that an embarrassingly large portion of the population is food insecure, living on ramen noodles (no exaggeration) and/or dependent on SNAP and food banks. Processed, crap, GMO food is usually the cheapest, unless local farmers find ways to shift that dynamic — and we are here. They are in Milwaukee. They are in Oakland … and Detroit … and many other places.

This is a very large portion of the population who is being courted by certain political parties (no, I don’t believe in that whole system, but the system itself has turned this part of the population into a very large pawn). I am not disagreeing with Jon’s points, just wondering why someone who champions imagination as the key to everything shares so few positive imaginings and seems so intent on lampooning other routes and strategies attempting to achieve similar goals. I agree “Right to Know” has not been a winning campaign. Not including at least some of the why was, imho, a mistake. Where I disagree is that ALL labeling campaigns, including CA and WA, are therefore worthless. I also disagree that there is only one way to raise awareness that leads to a ban, i.e. blasting the airwaves with how toxic everything is.

I don’t claim to know Jon’s sources and contacts or what social circles he runs in. I just know that I have lived in 42 different places across the US — some extremely ritzy, some poor, some mountain areas, some coastal, Pacific Northwest, Southwest, Northern and Central California Coasts, Chicago, Madison, smaller Midwest towns, North Carolina, the Northeast Corridor, including the Philadelphia area and much time in NYC, and more. Too many to list. A one size fits all approach is unlikely to fit such a diverse area or the concerns of such a wide variety of people. In California, everyone I knew (except my now ex-husband) ate organic and mostly raw food. In Northern Indiana, we have a huge grassroots organic gardening, farming and community garden culture, but we’re surrounded by GMO corn syrup growers on the one hand and Amish people without TVs or a desire to vote, on the other. I have seen first hand that what works to raise awareness in Northern California is not the same as in Sedona is not the same as in Goshen, Indiana or Chicago, Illinois. They are each radically different places filled with individuals but also with their own local and state values that may or may not be shifted most effectively by a political campaign.

Ignoring the enormous contingency of people in this country (who do vote because they want to keep their SNAP cards) who are too frazzled working three jobs and traveling among different food banks is a mistake, imho. That COULD be a very vocal contingency, since they already ARE vocal about a number of other things. In order to get these people to care about GMOs, education is required, but they are just going to tune out the above message [that everything is poison]. How do I know this? Because I know some of these people, and I know a lot of people who work in food banks, community services and social work. Together, we are working on a very local and county level to increase access to and demand for fresh, organic foods. Most of us would love a ban on GMOs, but there are layers and layers of education and action needed in our communities. Before someone is going to care if their pop tarts are going to give them cancer in seven years, they need to know they can put food on the table tomorrow night. This is a reality in much of the US — a much larger contingency than most people want to imagine. The research is there, though. There are many roads to the same goal … sometimes it just helps to know the people who COULD be traveling such roads.

The Green Backyard

Thanks, Colette!

This is so timely, as I’m working with some neighborhood youths to apply for an available local grant for youths aged 15-20 to improve our neighborhood. My idea? Plant fruit trees in a ho-hum park down the street to beautify the space and provide food security for our town.

I had asked for the grant-required youths “to just show up at my door,” and yesterday, they did just that! Three were congregated outside our back gate, and we started talking. It turns out that one of the guys had actually asked our landlord if he could plant fruit trees on this property after our landlord cleared away most of the overgrown, neglected trees last year. I had hoped to find youths that would be willing to engage this project as a community service or for college application building, but this young man is passionate about Nature. He’s actually been wanting to plant fruit trees in our neighborhood, and he wants to get his girlfriend and friends involved, too. Here’s hoping the synchronicities continue all the way to grant qualification, planting, community building, and (eventually) harvesting!

The video below illustrates some of the ways that gardening and beautification ripple out into the community.

From the YouTube description:

“This is the story of a once neglected urban wasteland in Peterborough, recently transformed into a much loved community resource by a crew of eager volunteers, led by the father and daughter team of Rennie and Sophie Antonelli. This is a light-hearted and candid portrait of this garden that brings together its flora, fauna, people and activities in a symbiotic fashion. Through its simple approach to placemaking the green backyard carries a bigger environmental message for our urban areas and highlights that it is often the simpler things in life that carry the most meaning.

For more information please contact me I am currently based in Amsterdam, but interested in new projects wherever they may be.”

email daryl [at] dmau.com
or on twitter @darylmul

More about The Green Backyard here http://thegreenbackyard.com/

Time to Change and Create Your Own Reality By Example

Another great share from my soul sister, Tania Marie. I appreciate her words on channeling, as well as the message itself, so I’m repeating them below, along with a note of how timely this message arrives.

I spent the morning at Goshen’s LaCasa, Inc. discussing ways to increase community involvement in community gardens, particularly in lower income or mixed use neighborhoods. I suggested not separating the “garden for beauty” from the “garden for produce,” but instead combining both together for a more enticing community gathering place. Who wants to weed and water when it’s 90+ and muggy, unless this experience can become something enjoyable in and of itself!? Gardening is about more than just the planting and the harvest. Through community gardens, we can foster connections among each other and to the Earth. I offered to teach a short class on “lazy gardening” if the neighborhood committee agrees to it.

As I explained at the meeting: “I’m a brat. If it’s not beautiful, fun and relatively easy, I’m really not interested. The trick is to find ways to make the front end work fun, to incorporate flowers/beauty into the gardens, perhaps even some low care herbs, and then make it a nice place to congregate. Get some compost and mulch down there after an initial weeding party, and you’ll be good to go for much of the summer. It will be a lovelier place to visit before harvest, and the more peaceful and beautiful, the more likely people are to visit and do a little weeding and watering here and there.”

We also explored possibilities for the renovation of our particular street in Goshen, and I shared some highly viable, minimally invasive, maximum impact ideas that hadn’t been thought of before. In return, I received contact information for people who can help make these ideas a reality that fosters beauty and community in the process. A friend and I then followed up this meeting by visiting each others’ gardens, and I helped her strategize for higher yields and less work in a 50′ x 35′ portion of her yard that she’s dedicated to the CCS Seed to Feed program, which provides food to a Free Farmers Market and other free food organizations.

I personally desire to live in a beautiful world in which people (largely) work together, love their neighbors and feel confident in the abundant supply of food and resources Nature freely gives. Sure, I could get worried about fascist food takeovers and the collapse of the American economy, but why not do something about it? A few months ago, I began with the massive and evolving project that is our “yard.” If you had seen what we have to work with, you might have considered me — like our neighbors originally did — a bit insane. But I have this vision, and the vision continues to manifest. Yesterday, we had our landlords over to see what we’ve done with the place, inside and out. It was a gut rehab that our landlord (who’s very involved with LaCasa) considers his “contribution to the neighborhood.” His wife teared up when she visited my garden(s) and said, “I never thought I’d see this yard look so good!” I then promptly received permission to plant three persimmon trees next Fall in a special spot that will raise their climate zone to a suitable level.

All of which is to say: Change happens — through inspiration and desire inside ourselves, spilling over to our immediate surroundings, and it ripples out from there. People laugh, but, mark my words, this street will be beautiful when I’m through with it. (Actually, most people are starting to believe me about that now!) As our six-year-old friend, Skye says, “You can’t stop art.” Well, you can’t stop pixie dust, either, and I might just have the Motherload of pixie dust. 😉

Anyway, here’s Tania:

“A dear cosmic brother of mine shared this video of Bashar, a multi-dimensional extra-terrestrial being who speaks through channel Darryl Anka from what we perceive as the future. He has a profound, fun and poignant type of humor that cuts through things and the way his messages come through may not be for everyone, but again, listen to the message and see how it meshes or what it brings up in you.

“I am posting this particular message because it happens to mirror my own beliefs and it feels very poignant for everything going on right now. It’s something I actually find myself sharing a lot with people, long before I just saw this video a couple of days ago. I only post things that resonate with me and that I feel have something valuable to teach. You can choose for yourself if you like what you hear. Again, I’m not particularly interested in “who” says something, as much as I am with, “does the message mirror my feelings?”

“It’s not often I share channeled messages, as I know that people sometimes get hung up on “channeling” or who is being channeled. But when I feel a particular message has importance, then I follow the nudge to share it. I think it’s important also to learn to weed through things, not get caught in definitions of words, and to also not get hung up on following any one particular person. Everything is merely a mirror of your own wisdom and Divinity. Exercise it.”