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Re: Coffee in the Garden & Representation II

  • Subject: Re: [cg] Coffee in the Garden & Representation II
  • From: Adam36055@aol.com
  • Date: Fri, 21 Feb 2003 12:12:54 EST

In a message dated 2/21/03 11:27:09 AM Eastern Standard Time, 
Adam36055@aol.com writes:

<< Friends,
 When you design your gardens, in might be a good thing to have a nice area 
 with a lawn, perennials, a few benches and a space that accommodates about 
 100 people for a picnic, religious service or a harvest fair where the 
 neighborhood can meet.  The Clinton Community Garden's neighborhood wanted 
 least half of our third of an acre space dedicated to our lawn and 
 so we created that first.  Then we built raised beds for gardeners on the 
 western and southern parts of the garden, called the back garden.  While we 
 have 108 back garden plots and several volunteer beds in our "front garden", 
 it is the public front garden that gives us political influence beyond our 
 size >>

You see, in addtion to the 150 active gardeners that we have, we have 3,850 
others who have daily access to the garden in our area because they have 
signed front garden key agreements.  Some obvously may use the garden space 
once or twice a season, others use it every day.  Also, when we have picnics 
and large gatherings in the garden, we invite elected officials whom we also 
give keys to the garden.  

While it is useful to be an elected official, it is more important to be an 
active citizen in your neighborhood.  To explain: Being registered to vote 
and voting are baseline activities that every citizen should be engaged in.  
The citizen community gardener should make sure that all the other folks in 
her garden who are eligible are registered to vote.  Nothing is more of a 
magnet to politicians than neighborhood organizations that use their spaces 
for regular voter registration parties.  Try to make, "I'm a gardener and I 
vote!" a statement that describes everyone in your garden(s).  And, if you 
have gardeners who would like to become citizens, find resources in your 
community to help them attain this. Believe me, helping someone get their 
green card, or coaching them for a citizenship test makes a friend and 
supporter of your garden for life.  

By opening your garden gates to the community and getting the recognition by 
that community that you are an asset to it, like a church, school  or a 
social service organization makes you a must visit, must support place in 
your community.  And, when you have young people growing up in your garden, 
it becomes a place where you can grow the next generation's elected 
officials.  Now, in NYC, we have a new city councilperson, Mr. Sanders from 
Queens, who is a long time community gardener. He walked into his local 
community garden, a number of years ago and was welcomed - his political 
activity grew organically...from the ground up, because his garden looked 
beyond it's garden gates.  

This is something that can be done.  Also, if your neighborhood has advisory 
boards, like police councils, neighborhood groops or, as my garden does, all 
three...it is a good thing for community gardeners to get involved in these 
activities.  We currently have two garden members on our local Community 
Board 4 Land Use Committee, and have had this kind of representation for over 
13 years. And we bring people out to vote in our other citizen capacities as 
members of block groups, PTA's , religious, civic, and neighborhood 
organizations.  When a community gardener wears several hats, you are not 
seen as someone who is coming to decision makers with hat in hand, but as a 
person who wears several hats in a political constituency.  

Bottom line: It helps to have horses to trade. There is a detailed article on 
how to do this in the annual ACGA "Community Greening Review" called"The 
Citizen Gardener: Politics 101 for Folks Who Would Rather Be Turning Compost" 
by yours truly. If you are already members of the ACGA, you should have 
received it.  Volume 12, 2003 of the ACGA Community Greening Review - "Urban 
Green Infrastructure" contains articles some remarkable articles:

"Defining Green Infrastucture: Are Community Gardnens Included?"  & 
"Green Infrastructure Projects and Research in North America and Europe," by 
Greening Review Editor, Pam Kirschenbaum

"Beginning With Environmental Justice: Grassroots and the Green Institute in 
Minneapolis," by Corrie Zoll

Feature/How To: 

"Community Garden Mapping Project," by Lenny Librizzi

"User Fiendly Methods for Green Infrastructure Inventories," by Mary Cox


"The Citizen Gardener: Politics 101 for Folks Who Would Rather Be Turning 
Compost," by Adam Honigman

The ACGA Annual Report


"Chicago! Easy Being Green" a piece on Greening & Community gardening in 
Chicago, as well as notice of next year's annual ACGA convention in that 
city, by Pam Kirschenbaum

This annual report and the now 3-4 time a year "Community Gardener" 
newsletter are part of the benefits available to ACGA members, in addition to 
the networking, mentoring, discounts on annual conventions and much more that 
the ACGA offers its members. This listserve is a benefit that the ACGA 
provides to all community gardeners, members or not.  I'm not even talking 
about the karmic benefits of being a member of the ACGA :). ...

Please consider becoming a member of the ACGA. You can register here though 
our website:  <A HREF="http://www.communitygarden.org/";>American Community 
Gardening Association</A> 

Thanking you in advance,

Best wishes,
Adam Honigman  

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

To post an e-mail to the list:  community_garden@mallorn.com

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