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Re: Bizzarre neighbor

Hi, Folks!

>He then proceeded to tell me he "didn't like (our) 'stuff' growing through
the fence & hanging in his yard."  

There are idiots everywhere.  My mother's next door neighbor has conniptions
fits over the English walnut tree I planted when I was a teenager in the
backyard.  He is so hyper about the tree overhanging his yard that he
gathers up the walnuts and throws the bag at my mother when she is outside.
(She doesn't mind so much as those are walnuts that she doesn't have to pick
up herself, but it's amazing that when walnuts are $5/pound, the guy won't
keep or eat them "on principle"!)

>The conversation ended & I walked away dumbfounded -- these people claim to
be avid church-going (Methodist) people.  

Church-going doesn't mean they listen! ;-D

> Bottomline:  We are not in violation of any codes, ordinances, laws, etc.  

They you are fine and the neighbors can go hang.  As a church-sponsored
garden coordinator myself, you just don't realize (as you think/know you are
providing a needed, Gospel-mandated service) that food production really
*SCARES* people -- it reminds them that there are hungry people in their own
neighborhood and it clashes with their idea of "what America is really
about."  They don't want to think about it, so they try to ger rid of that
which clashes with their world view.

Adam is soooooooooooo right -- community gardens are 100% political.  You
just don't realize that until you actually start -- especially for us church
types who see that we're feeding the hungry/caring for Creation like we're
SUPPOSED to (if we take the Gospels seriously), so it tends to hit us
broadside when folks complain.  But it does happen and you have to be
prepared for it.

>However, the woman next door wants us to move the garden back from the road
60 feet to be in line with her >setback --since the garden area is in our
'backyard', this does not apply to us.  

Oh, pooh!  Be polite, but stick to your guns and keep the garden as is.  You
have "ruined" her view -- Homeowners Associations wouldn't be as popular as
they are if there weren't all these folks that just want things "tidy",
"neat" and "under the rug."  

>Our congregational president was not available.  So, I called our trustee
(ex-mayor of Sylvan Lake & current police auxiliary) & our new Pastor.  The
trustee said to call the police to have a record.  Our pastor said to put it
all in writing, don't call the police, & she will talk to them next week.

Oh, boy.  Don't you just love it when you get conflicting advice from church
officials? ;-)  You need to have a consistant response from the church to
the neighbors.  So, you, the pastor, the trustee, the congregational
president and your church consistory (or council or whatever you have) need
to have a meeting to decide how all this will be handled.  Meanwhile, put
everything in writing, then have the meeting so the church can decide how to
handle this -- whether the police should be called and/or the pastor and the
congregational president should call on them (whoever is the most verbally
diplomatic -- in my church, that's *NEVER* me! ;-D) and what should be said.

At the very least, add these folks to your congregational newsletter (so
that they can read about all the good things that your church and the garden
is doing -- you are writing up articles about all that, right? ;-)) and if
you are having a special service with the garden, give these folks bulletins
from the service and invite them to join you in the future.  Folks who know
what is going on tend to be happier about things -- if not, at least, since
they can see that it's an important mission of the church, they'll tend to
mutter to themselves (rather than you! ;-))

Hope you find this helpful! 

Dorene Pasekoff, Coordinator
St. John's United Church of Christ Organic Community Garden

A mission of 
St. John's United Church of Christ, 315 Gay Street, Phoenixville, PA  19460

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