RE: garden group issue - Give it to them straight
- Subject: RE: [cg] garden group issue - Give it to them straight
- From: "Honigman, Adam" <Adam.Honigman@Bowne.com>
- Date: Thu, 1 Aug 2002 18:40:54 -0400
Dear Lynn & David,
One of the great things about the NYC ACGA conference last week was the
convergence on Columbia University of so many really nice people. Community
gardening tends to attract nice folks in a way that, for example, arbitrage
attracts the Gordon Gecko's ( remember, "Greed is Good!')of the world.
Now, I'm not Mr. "Sweetness and Light", but community gardening tends to
bring out my better angels - but I'm enough of a bad guy to believe that a
good scare is a fine thing for community gardeners who have forgotten, or
never learned the "community" part of our shared pursuit.
By all means, nuture, but have somebody real break the news to the gardeners
in a no-nonsense, fashion, i.e., "Lookit, this lady from the City of
Cleveland says that unless the garden cleans up it's act and uses the
people's resources better and makes this place a credit to the city rather
than an eyesore, than it's gonna pull the plug. Everybody's gonna have to
pull their weight around here, or this garden is toast. Unless we turn this
place around in a group effort, starting today, this place is gone, forever.
It can be done, but it can't be folks going to their own plots and
forgetting to keep up the common area anymore. How we're going to do it is
up to you, but unless it's done, we're finished."
Be sure that the giver of bad news is used to tantrums and and expressions
anger so the gardener's reactions won't be personally upsetting. It's hard
being the bearer of bad news. Be sure to have a "good cop" around to say all
the ways that the garden can be turned around positively, etc., but the kick
in the butt ( the reality check) needs to be administered, and fast!
I'd also reach out to some of the local churches, schools etc. to see if any
of them would like to become stakeholders in the garden, along with a couple
of grad students in the local ag. college ( an advert in a local
shopper's/college paper soliciting new gardeners might be a good thing, as
well as a public announcement on a radio station - ask the stations how you
do that - freebies are possible.)
Great luck and courage - community gardens need that as much as rain and
gardeners who care.
From a little slice of heaven in NYC ( a third of an acre in Hell's
Kitchen's Clinton Community Garden, http://www.clintoncommunitygarden.org )
From: David Smead [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Thursday, August 01, 2002 5:11 PM
To: Lynn Gregor
Subject: Re: [cg] garden group issue
These are just my observations about community - I have no professional
background in the subject.
You can generate a sense of community with a charismatic leader, but there
will always be some who fail to be impressed or see faults with that
person. Dissent will effectively be repressed. At some point, however,
that kind of community will fall apart.
It takes trust and good faith for a healthy community to grow and survive.
The issue facing the new leader isn't what rules to apply. What has to
happen is getting each gardener to feel vested in, not just their plot,
but the garden as a whole. And that's only possible if each gardener feels
like they are equal in the decision making process - something not
possible with an autocratic leader, or one who survives by charming some
inside group of participants who `run the show'.
How can you get there from where you are? First, make NO decisions or
plans for the way the garden should or shouldn't be. The new leader needs
to find one other person to join her in a `garden community effort', which
can be just a general cleanup of the garden. Keep this effort short,
perhaps an hour, but do follow it with food. The sharing of food is viewed
by all cultures as a positive and community building experience.
Now try to make this `event' regular. Invite others, but don't coerce
them. It may take awhile to get the other gardeners involved, and the
event may have different gardeners who attend at different times.
As time goes on, the garden will take the shape that the participants want
it to. Be ever mindful that there will never be a single vision for the
garden, nor should there be. The best you can hope for is that the garden
is an expression of people working their own plots with pride, and
participating at their level of comfort with other gardeners on community
And don't wait for next year. Start now!
On Thu, 1 Aug 2002, Lynn Gregor wrote:
> Please bear with me as I explain this situation and offer any
> suggestions/fresh ideas you may have:
> I'm working with a garden leader/coordinator at a small neighborhood
> garden that has been struggling ever since it began about 5 years ago.
> just took on leadership this year because no one else would do it. There
> been about 4 different leaders since the start of the garden. The
> attitude in the garden (according to the current leader) is that people
> to their plot, it's their own, they take care of it and leave. It is not
> really a community effort.
> This new leader really wants to implement some rules and make this a
> site (it's been quite haggard and run down). Incidentally, the current
> leader is blind, she can see shadow and light and has a garden plot and a
> health aid to read for her etc. She lives next door to the garden. So we
> up a meeting a couple of weeks ago for today but now, one gardener says
> going out of town, the others cannot be reached, the other said he just
> not come.
> So I told the leader to just have a meeting that focuses on next year and
> invite current gardeners and any potential gardeners. Just write this
> off and focus on next year. The resources from the city of Cleveland may
> canceled if they do not do well enough next year - just because it's been
> many years that they've received resources and have not utilized them.
> Honestly, I don't have any answers at this point - just trying to do the
> we can. Any suggestions?!
> Thanks, Lynn Gregor
> OSU Extension
> Cleveland, Ohio
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To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your subscription:
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