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Looking Beyond Your Garden Gates - The ACGA's Support of Community Gardeners Nationwide

  • Subject: [cg] Looking Beyond Your Garden Gates - The ACGA's Support of Community Gardeners Nationwide
  • From: "Honigman, Adam" <Adam.Honigman@Bowne.com>
  • Date: Mon, 13 Aug 2001 14:07:36 -0400

Friends:

The real life benefits of having a  national organization like the American
Community Gardening Association in your corner:

On Wednesday August 1st, 2001, while  representatives of all of NYC's major
gardening and open space greening organizations joined together for a noon
press conference on the steps of NYC's City Hall to present over 20,00 pro
garden signatures to the city ( in formation: the Audobon Society,
Neighborhood Open Space Coalition, Green Guerillas, NY Restoration, TPL,
MoreGardens!, Garden Celebrations! Brooklyn Gardens, Bronx Urban Gardens,
Green Guerillas, Parks 200, many Lower East Side, Harlem Gardens and  the
Clinton Community Garden...) simultaneously, inside City Hall's  air
conditioning -  Mayor Giuliani was telling another, larger contingent of the
working press that he could not build housing for the homeless because of
"selfish community gardeners who held on to land to grow tomatoes."

Guess which story got the most ink and media coverage?

A NY Post reporter printed some of our reactions at the end of the story but
edited out the sections that were most telling ( e.g. They printed  that I
said that Rudy was from outer space and that there were 10,000 empty lots
but neglected to include the factoid that the city could build on those lots
before they touched any of the currently endangered community gardens.) The
Daily News and NY Times didn't talk to us at all on this one.

Later that day, our good buddies at the Coalition for the Homeless gave us a
great press release statement that it was the city's lack of will and
funding that kept the homeless unhoused, not community gardens.
This was faxed and e-mailed to all of the NYC dailies and electronic media
but was not printed.

The NY Daily News then printed a leading extremely negative editorial "NYC's
Garden Weasels", which  on Friday August 3, 2001 which this list serve has
already seen.

I sent out a nationwide SOS to the list serve and thankfully hundreds of
letters were sent from all over the country by ACGA members to the NY
papers. 

This is important: 

Generally,  letters of support and back-up documentation from local
gardeners were deposited in the "circular files" by news organizations.
However, excerpts of President Tom Tyler and Judy Tiger's letters of support
were printed because ( as my Daily News drinking buddy/mole said over a
cocktail at lunch today) "these letters represented to the editorial page
editor the unbiased opinion of a recognized national organization."  In
other words, the voice of the national organization gave the editorial page,
letters to the editors folks the opportunity of seeming balanced and fair.
To the folks in power, they  could say, "what do these out-of-towners know,
they're not New Yorkers" but our message gets heard.

FYI: In today's Daily News , a paragraph of Washington, DC based Judy
Tiger's letter appears with that of Ximena Naranjo of Green Guerillas ( a
NYC garden group.) 

Thank you  ACGA, Tom, Judy and everyone who came to bat for NYC community
gardens at such short notice!  In addition,  it was extremely useful at the
Parks 2001/Clinton Community Garden sponsored meeting last August 6th to
have the full text of Tom's letter to distribute to the citywide garden,
parks, low income housing and homeless advocate organizations that attended
the meeting. 

The national support that the ACGA gave us in NYC is on tap for community
gardens throughout the US and Canada. This is why membership in the ACGA (
$25 bucks a year - the price of Chinese take-out and a couple of beers) is
so important to the cause of community gardening on our continent.

There are karmic benefits as well, you know, but this missive is about the
here and now.

Best wishes,
Adam Honigman





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