Community Connections

Today was an incredible day of connecting with others, in ways that I hope will be beneficial to not just the individuals involved, but to our whole community. Let me explain…

I started the day with a meeting with a Johnson City employee that heads up the ‘Keep JC Beautiful’ task force. She wanted to talk with me about some of the more pressing needs at the Carver Peace Gardens, so that she could then pass along those needs and ideas to her network of committees and organizations that support KJCB, and want to see our beautiful city become even more so! She has some funding to help me purchase some of those gardening needs and asked me to go to Lowe’s with her to shop, since the city has a tax free certificate already on file with the big box store. I was able to impress upon her the need to shop locally, especially when it involves public dollars and asked her to consider Mize Farm and Garden or Evergreen Nursery as  local alternatives to Lowe’s. She asked me to visit those stores to price the needed items from my list, and to inquire of them if they’d be willing to accept a city procurement card, without any sales tax added as payment. My first stop when I left her office was Mize, and they were more than happy to meet the requirements in order to get the business. When I explained to the very helpful, friendly store employee the nature of my inquiries, she told me that just this morning a woman from the County Health Dept. had called the store trying to get donations of seeds and tools because the department wants to start a nutrition counseling class for some of their patients and help them learn to grow food as part of that experience. hmmm… the community garden still has two unclaimed plots for the 2012 growing season, so I asked the clerk to connect the Health Dept caller with me so that perhaps we can collaborate. We’ve got the plot and the tools already, as well as lots of seeds, so maybe the city and county can work together on this idea! Wouldn’t THAT be novel?

So, I leave the store and head for the Earth Week celebration that’s going on at ETSU. The C.O.O.P. group (remember, ‘Chickens On Our Property’?) had a table at the event and I’d promised to be on hand to help out. While there I:

  1. Ran into the university’s Director of Sustainability, who is a former Carver Garden Steering Committee member. She introduced me to the new coordinator of the campus community garden, who then told me where the Carver Gardens could get some pretty decent leaf mold for free. I, in turn, told her of the free compost that’s available from the fairgrounds. We were both grateful to learn of these ‘new to us’ resources for our gardeners. While we were talking, a mutual friend entered our conversation…
  2. This woman is the organizer behind a new group in town, called “Build It Up East Tennessee”. They are working to build and support a comprehensive food justice program through reclaiming local food culture. Her organization has just planted a small community garden behind Shakti In the Mountains  and is planning a series of workshops to be held there, on organic gardening, food preservation, worm composting, sustainable living and more. Veronica asked me if I’d give a workshop for the group. I told her I was giving one on May 16th at the Carver Peace Gardens on Natural and Organic Insect and Pest Control. She informed me that May 19th is  Food Revolution Day , a day of action and inaugural global food festivals to mark a commitment to ‘change the way America eats’. I’ve already got the picnic pavilion at Carver Park reserved for the planned workshop, and it’s complete with picnic tables, lighting and water. So, we garden coordinators decided to hold a LOCAL FOODS POTLUCK that night and invite all the community gardeners in the area to participate, and then stay afterwards for the workshop. Amid all the excited plans…
  3. COOP Supporters were stopping at our table asking questions, offering support and taking postcards to be sent to our city council members to let them know they want urban hens in their backyards too! Some of them overheard our community-building/gardening ideas and suggested that we…
  4. Put together a local resource guide for all this kind of stuff. And so that’s exactly what we intend to do.

So, I’m going to postpone my plans a bit longer to put together a seasonal, local foods cookbook and work instead on this guide. Among many other things, I expect it will contain sources for local foods and growers, which will then make supporters HUNGRY for my book on how to cook those things.

But here’s the thing: change may seem slow, incredibly so at times. But ‘the times they are a’changin’ my friends and it is time to reweave our connection with community. In the spirit of all things ‘transitions’ I say:

 If we collectively plan and act early enough, we can create a way of living that’s significantly more connected, more vibrant and more fulfilling than the one we find ourselves in today. Now is the time for us to take stock and to start re-creating our future in ways that are not based on cheap, plentiful and polluting oil but on localized food, sustainable energy sources, resilient local economies and an enlivened sense of community well-being.


2 Comments so far
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I would LOVE a guide like the one you mention!!! Did it come to fruition?

Comment by Karen

It is STILL coming to fruition Karen. I’ll let you know when it’s ready, be patient. In the meantime, if you have any resources that are stable and will be around long enough for the guide to be printed, please send them to me. Many resources I’ve tracked down no longer exist, or not like they did before, etc. so that’s why I say ‘stable’ haha. Thanks so much for reading my blog.

Comment by simpleintn

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