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Re: gardens transform people's lives

  • Subject: Re: [cg] gardens transform people's lives
  • From: Adam36055@aol.com
  • Date: Fri, 1 Aug 2003 17:35:36 EDT


There is a wonderful old Lenny Bruce routine called "Thank You Masked Man," 
in which the Lone Ranger has a problem hanging around to take the thank you's.  
The old Radio and TV show had him riding into the sunset with Tonto without 
being there to be "thanked."  

In real life, I have discovered that the folks who are appreciative of 
volunteers efforts, use the words, "please" and "thank you" regularly and 
proactively instead of waiting to be "stroked" have a better time and find more 
fulfillment in the process of community gardening.  It is better to be grateful for 
the privilege of being able to garden together with others and maybe do some 
good, than to worry about, "am I making a difference?"  Believe me...the time you 
spend turning the compost, or teaching someone new how to to it and see them 
teach someone is making a difference - after all, you could just be trying on 
stuff at the mall, killing time before the movie starts.

That expression, "killing time" is amazing.  Somehow, when you're doing 
something useful, there never seems to be enough time.   When you volunteer in a 
soup kitchen like I have, and you see the extra tomatoes that will never get 
eaten or turned into sauce by the gardeners being put into salads or eaten by 
hungry folks, and you know that you planted them - and that the folks, many of 
whom don't have teeth, ask for more, because they taste so good....you know that 
you wish you had the time to grow more, to help more, to help participate in 
one of what the late naturalist Stephen Jay Gould called "the 20,000 acts of 
unheralded kindness that counterbalance every truly evil act that happens in 
the world." 

Having never been a "do-gooder" for pay, I never felt the need to be told 
that I was "making a difference" - the act of cleaning up an empty lot, 
"persuading" whores, junkies and dealers to change their venue,  and creating a broken 
glass and dog crap free garden where children could take their first steps in 
safety and security and where oldsters could sit on a bench unmolested and 
look at flowers, was enough.  Didn't need a "Thank You,  Masked Man!," but when I 
see some of the younger folks doing the kind of things I do as a volunteer by 
example of me and other ageing baby-boomers, I feel good. I mean,  if I drop 
dead while weeding, the stuff that I did for all those years ( after they 
throw my body into the meat wagon) may continue and they may not put a Micky Dees 
on the garden site.  

Others get their kicks out of creating suburban subdivisions and being the 
richest guy they know - taking their money to put their names on a hospital or 
school.  Me, I know that my work is in the basic DNA of my projects, and if 
nobody knows it, well that's OK.  The workers who built Chartres, Stonehenge, the 
Pyramids or discovered how to sow wheat are anonymous....and what they did is 
a hell of alot more important than what I do, or the names carved in faux 
marble above the x-ray suite. 

Okay - okay - If you need to read some community garden feel good stories, 
you could do worse than to read this Rodale Book, published in May 2003,  "Grace 
from the Garden: Changing the World One Garden at a Time" by Debra Landwehr 
Engle   <A HREF="http://www.bhny.com/pow/POW042.html#bio";>Grace from the Garden
</A>  .  It talks about gardens, food security and making a quiet 

And seriously, if you get into the habit of thanking others around you for 
what they do, the affirmations will come back to you.  You see, imitation is 
basic primate behavior,  and the reason why many of us garden is to be close to 
our old neighborhood in the trees.

Best wishes,
Adam Honigman
 <A HREF="http://www.clintoncommunitygarden.org/";>Clinton Community Garden</A>

<< Subj:     [cg] gardens transform people's lives
 Date:  8/1/03 12:30:59 PM Eastern Daylight Time
 From:  spryfield_community_garden@yahoo.ca (Sara Faulhafer)
 Sender:    community_garden-admin@mallorn.com
 To:    community_garden@mallorn.com
 I am a summer student working as a community garden co-ordinator in Halifax, 
Nova Scotia, Canada.  The listserve has been a wonderful resource this past 
summer--thanks for all of the great advice!  One problem I find with my job, 
well with non profits in general, is the sense of discouragement and frustration 
in wondering if we're really making a difference and being effective in our 
outreach programs.  I challenge other community gardeners out there to lift our 
 Do you have any "good news" stories? Have you seen positive impacts on 
people's lives by becoming involved in gardening?  I have one to get things 
rolling... One woman in our garden refused to give anyone her name, and wouldn't talk 
to anyone when she started.  She refused to participate in community 
activities.  Three years later, she happily spends hours talking to the other 
gardeners, asking for and giving advice.  Out of her meagre resources she purchased 
flowers and transplants to share with the community.  She truly has been 
transformed!  Quite often she tells me how much she loves to be in the garden and 
just wants to soak up the magic of it all.  Believe me, it definitely lifts my 
spirits and makes me fall in love with gardening all over again.
 Look forward to hearing from you!
 "Gardeners, scholars say, are the first sign of commitment to a community.  
When people plant corn they are saying, 'Let's stay here.'  And by their 
connection to the land, they are connected to one another." ~ Anne Raver~
 Sara Faulhafer
 Spryfield Community Garden Co-ordinator
 St Paul's Family Resource Institute
 173 Old Sambro Road
 Halifax, NS
 ph. 902-479-1015
 fx. 902-477-5206
 www3.ns.sympatico.ca/stpaulsfri >>

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