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Smokers in the Garden.

  • Subject: [cg] Smokers in the Garden.
  • From: Adam36055@aol.com
  • Date: Wed, 24 Jul 2002 09:33:04 EDT


This is a non-smoker speaking.  And while many of my friends, including our 
legendary Clinton Community Garden volunteer, John Carney was a smoker and 
died of lung cancer, I think that banning smoking from heavily used, urban 
community gardens is balderdash.

Perhaps this  may be a bias from my days in the bar business, but I like 
smokers.  They tend to have a sense of humor, an acceptance of their own 
mortality and tip better.  Mallory Jacobsen, who was for many, many years the 
strong personality at the Clinton Community Garden and instrumental in the  
creation of  our  ethos of service and accessibilty to community, was a 
smoker.  While many of our gardeners are non-smokers, many still do and have 
the grace not to blow smoke on the tomato plants.  One of our best volunteers 
has a two pack a day habit. 

In our 150 x 100 garden in midtown Manhattan, with 3,500 + members, we had 
enough of a hard time getting rid of the junkies, crack-heads, winos and 
vandals and creating a welcoming space . While it has been suggested by 
passive users of the space and carrot wielding authoritarian types in our 
gardening, but not hard core volunteer base - a smoking ban has been shrugged 
off, mainly by non-smokers.

In context: Beating  people up for using a legal product which they can also 
use in every NYC Park. ain't the way to go if you want to be taken seriously 
in another public space.  Non-smoking offices, restaurants and alas, bars has 
a reasonable rationale.  

We are a safe haven for seniors, many of whom smoke.  We have Fountain House, 
a clubhouse for mentally ill people on our block whose members smoke and for 
whom our garden is a haven. Our grape arbor even has an ash tray to 
accomodate them. 

Those are the smoking politics of the Clinton Community Garden within the 
neighborhood that it serves. 

Note: Some of our best gardeners and volunteers stopped smoking because they 
first came to the garden and found the act of gardening therapeutic. When 
they got all Taliban about smokers, I asked them if they would have become 
gardeners if they had been told told to take their "nasty butts out of here" 
when they first checked-in to our little slice of pardise.?

To a gardener, they said no - it was the gradual changing of the lifestyle 
that made them non-smokers. 

Many folks smoke because they have idle, nervous hands. Give 'em a trowel ( 
and ask 'em to rinse off their hands when their working near tomatoes!)

Best wishes,
Adam Honigman

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