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More human factors

  • Subject: [cg] More human factors
  • From: Don Boekelheide <dboekelheide@yahoo.com>
  • Date: Thu, 23 Dec 2004 10:57:14 -0800 (PST)

Hi, Adam and Jim and everyone,

Wish I had a better holiday story than Adam and Jim's,
but mine is unfortunately a version of the same thing
- this time with the neighbors (kind of). It's like
the original (and better) line in 'Have Yourself  A
Merry Little Christmas' -'until then, we'll have to
muddle through somehow...'

About 7 years ago now, a very nice woman moved to
Charlotte from South Dakota, where her town had
sponsored a very successful community garden. Finding
nothing like it here, she got to work organizing a
garden in her neighborhood. She did everything right
(almost) - got good press coverage, talked to
neighbors, hung up xeroxed signs, had meetings at the
library, played the 'plant a row for the hungry' angle
to churches, joined Master Gardeners and recruited
there.

Finally, she found a sponsor in Parks and Recreation.
The Parks people, who have all kinds of citizen-input
mechanisms and boards, set aside $10,000 for a budget
and gave her a site inside a large community park.
Plots were laidout, people were excited.

Then, at the Park Commission meeting to give the final
stamp of approval, who shows up but a pack of angry
residents of the next neighborhood over? Though they
lived over a mile from the proposed site and couldn't
see it from their homes, they were 'outraged' and
"furious" because everybody knows community gardens
attract 'those people'. In spite of all the
pre-publicity, they claimed 'no one told me...' In so
many words, they smeared the poor organizer - a very
conventional, somewhat large woman, who you might have
had as your Sunday School teacher - as a *&%# Yankee
outsider who 'didn't understand us'. The Park
Commission dropped the project like a hot potato, and
that was that. 

The woman, by this time a friend of mine, was crushed.
She and her husband soon moved to Florida, where I
trust things have gone better. 

Postscript: After the meeting, an instigator of the
'neighbors', came up to my friend, professing
sympathy. 'Why, dear", she drawled, "If y'all don't
have a place to garden, why I'll let you garden some
in my backyard".

Festive Festivus,

Don B., Charlotte, NC


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