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Re: [tb-cybergardens]: Report on Saturday's Citywide Meeting

  • Subject: [cg] Re: [tb-cybergardens]: Report on Saturday's Citywide Meeting
  • From: Adam36055@aol.com
  • Date: Mon, 4 Apr 2005 10:11:53 EDT


We all owe Mark Leger a big hand for creating his garden blog -
http://www.freedigger.com/. which will share the visions of many of NYC's
gardeners and serve as a forum for updates on the evolving relationship
between the
paid, always well meaning and sometimes professional garden managers and
facilitators - NY Parks/Green Thumb, NY Restoration, The Trust for Public
Green Guerillas, and the grass roots gardeners who do the work, creating and
maintaining NYC's Community Gardens.

Alas, I had to work, so I could not be at Saturday's convocation, but Mark's
Blog will serve as an honest forum for the evolution of a movement with
permanent gardens. Thanks Mark!

A quote from the conference -

"Edie Stone, the director of GreenThumb, the city agency that administers the
community garden program, said it most succinctly, bHow do you translate a
grassroots, anarchistic, rebellious movement into an institution--and still
what's vital about it?b She was referring to her own organization, but I
think it is a challenge that we all face."

I posit that while some gardeners have been anarchistic and rebellious, and
draw the wellsprings of their inspiration from political movements, that there
are others who use the political process to create and maintain volunteer
community gardens as valid, self-sustaining community gardens. In other words,
politics as a means, not the end, the political act, dealing with whomever
"Caesar," happens to be,  towards the creation and sustainance of community

I believe that more than anything else, community gardening is not an
entitlement program but an opportunity for service to community. We are
citizens who
produce value and service for our communities - it's really a case of "lead,
follow, or get out of the way."

Community gardens are another American place where citizens will provide for
their communities what  a budget strapped city will NOT do, namely create and
maintain the open green spaces that our communities require; to take city
land, more and more expensive in today's real estate bubble, and grow food for
hungry, and to create public, noncommercial meeting places for the
neighborhood residents to re-create themselves, without having to buy a
corporatized cup
of coffee.

I differ with Edie Stone in believing that the issue here  is not
"translat(ing) a grassroots, anarchistic, rebellious movement into an
still keep what's vital about it," but finally getting serious about this
community gardens - creating permanence through real zoning on the City's
land use map, and requiring accountablity from volunteers to maintain their
gardens for their larger communities, making sure they are accessible, safe
embrace the full diversity of their communities - no matter where they come
from. The garden gate is there to protect, but never exclude - the community
never feel that the garden is separate from themselves, run by "them,"
instead of "us."

The issues here is how well the powers that be support and help "govern,"
community gardens do their jobs in keeping NYC's community gardens accessible
promoting democratic, non-cliquish, genuinely democratic governance, keeping
their physical sites safe, getting their soil tested, their garden sites
insured, their land protected in a city that closes firehouses and has not
accepted community gardens as a registered land use category under NYC's
zoning resolution.

The gardeners with their trowels, sore backs, and tens of thousands of
volunteer hours and have given this city the equivalent of Central Park in
acreage to the citizens of the City of New York over the last 30 years.

What gardeners need, in this old gardener's opinion, is community garden
zoning and formal placement on the City Map, i.e., "mapping", best practice
self-governance coaching that keeps gardens accessible to their communities
truly sustainable, piping of water from the NYC water supply into all of our
gardens, and official respect for community gardeners as volunteer public
benefactors, just like the "dollar a year," guys like Mayor Bloomberg and
Deputy Mayor
Dan Doctoroff, instead of "clients," in social service terminology who have to
be watched, lest they run around with garden shears.

This "normalization, " process is going to be interesting to watch, and I've
shared this website and information with the ACGA listserv because it's always
best to learn from other's mistakes, and see if the "reinvention," of the
wheel can be avoided.

Again, Thanks to Mark Leger for creating his garden blog. It will open our
process to anyone who cares to look at it.

Adam Honigman
Clinton Community Garden

The American Community Gardening Association listserve is only one of ACGA's services to community gardeners. To learn more about the ACGA and to find out how to join, please go to http://www.communitygarden.org

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