Filed under: Adapting to Change, And Justice for All | Tags: baltimore, Coffee House, Community Partnerships, distress calls, GDP, greenhouse, growind organically, marriage equality, may pole, poetry, proactive, self sufficiency, spring festival, tai chi, yoga
“May Day” has several meanings: it is used as an international distress call, as well as a reference to a traditional spring holiday or festival. And since 1886, it’s been used to refer to an international day of worker solidarity and protest, although here in the US it’s rarely recognized in the country in which it began; I’ve seen a lot of ‘May Day’ this week, and thought this first day in May was a good time to discuss some of those things.
First, this week’s distress calls- the election season has begun in earnest this week, the Everest-lowering earthquake split Nepal in two, Baltimore is burning, the dollar nosedived and stocks floundered as the first quarter GDP figures proved once again, that infinite growth is not possible. Good friends are out of work, a family member is suffering mental and financial setbacks while environmental and social injustice continues everywhere I look.
In sharp contrast to those distress signals were signals of hope and change- Monday night Michael and I were part of a large crowd gathered in a nearby park for a peaceful candlelight vigil held the night before the Supreme Court began their deliberations around marriage equality. Tuesday night we were invited to a dessert buffet and beautiful poetry readings- by the poet!- as a thank-you for our volunteer work at the local School of the Arts (it’s the sweetest gig ever to volunteer for this school!). On Wednesday we attended the monthly lunch meeting of our local Community Partnerships coalition, where we not only enjoyed a local food luncheon, we also learned about our city’s lower crime rates, RX drug take-back program, new housing starts for low income families and veterans, Food Co-op development plans and more.
As the week wore on, the spring celebration grew louder: on Thursday we played music for a bunch of doe-eyed preschoolers as they danced magically and wound their tie-dyed streamers around their school-yard May pole.
This celebratory week we also managed to eat something from our garden every day; from a bumper crop of sweet bunching onions…
to bushels of dark green organic bok choy and collards, fall-stored butternut squash and beets, as well as jars of green beans and tomatoes, all seasoned with sweet smelling herbs, cilantro and garlic, with enough to share with friends and neighbors.
We marveled at the number of robins in our bird bath, as well as the kale, lettuce and peas that’ll soon be ready to eat…
and cheered finally getting our little greenhouse ready to press into service…
Tonight we’ll walk downtown to take part in the Corazon Latino Festival that celebrates the heart of Hispanic culture through storytelling, music, food and dance, then attend a live, outdoor concert in my city’s beautiful new park. Saturday morning we’ll take part in the first “Barefoot in the Park” series of free yoga and tai chi lessons, then drive over the beautiful green springtime mountains to Asheville, NC (only our third time to start the car this week) to attend the annual Herb Festival there. Sunday after church we’ll surely have fun playing for a fundraiser at the local Coffee House and then sharing an authentic Ethiopian dinner with good friends.
How does this post relate to transitioning? If you read the ‘about’ page of this blog, you’ll understand that it was begun as a way to inspire you to re-create a 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. These changes can be made as reactions to external forces beyond our control, with much kicking and screaming I might add, OR by collectively planning and acting early enough to create a way of living that’s significantly more connected, more vibrant and more fulfilling than the one we find ourselves in today. In other words, transitioning in a proactive way now to a leaner, simpler and slower life will be gentler and softer for us all in the future. Growing some food, forming bonds of community, or increasing your personal resilience in hundreds of different ways takes time, and doing those things now can be pleasant indeed. Volunteering, voting, rallying, sharing and donating can literally change the world, and is the only thing that will. Waiting until the well runs dry is NOT the time to send out a May Day call of distress, friends. Let’s participate in the possibilities of the ‘spring festival’ of life. Happy May Day friends!
Filed under: Community Building, Transition Towns | Tags: community gardens, greenhouse, public art, scarves farmer's market, VA Campus
Michael and I took a long walk with the dog this afternoon around town. I snapped pictures of things that I found interesting, and thought my local readers might enjoy taking this tour with me. I’m so pleased with the progress we’re seeing and look forward to the time when the postcard scenes that are in my mind become a reality. In the meantime, I’m find I’m fascinated with the journey. By the way, this pictoral shows some of the activity of progress, but it also shows some of the ‘humanity’ that’s often harder to see. (note: double clicking on the pictures will enlarge them)
First stop, about a block away, is just a nice scene that I get to enjoy year round. In the distance, down the hill, are the Carver Peace Gardens…
As I enter this community gardens, I’m thrilled to see that the city has done exactly what I asked them to do! They’ve moved the little unused and inaccessible greenhouse to a much better spot within the garden area and will have water and electric run to it within a few weeks. The addition of this greenhouse means that we’ll be able to not only start herbs, flowers and veggies for the resident gardeners within its’ cozy interior, but hopefully we’ll be able to grow enough to share with other community gardens in town!
After marveling over this gift, we travel on down the street, through a neighborhood that we don’t often walk through. Lo and behold! there’s an empty, sunny, corner lot in the middle of the ‘hood with a new sign planted there…
I love the idea of community gardens and feel it is truly one of the best ways there is to have healthy food on our tables and strong communities! A few more blocks down and we find ourselves on the VA campus, at the intersection of Peace and Freedom. What a wonderful place to be on a beautiful and warm winter’s day…
Circling to the back of the beautiful campus, and into the crown jewel of our fair city, we find ourselves face to face with the new public art sculptures that were installed just this week. I didn’t take this picture because I was there in bright sunlight, but I wanted you to see how beautiful it looks at night.
Leaving the other end of the park, we see the site preparation work that was begun this week for the new Farmer’s Market. This one will have vendor stalls with a roof for rainy days, lighting, bathrooms and more!
As we make the loop through downtown to head back home, we happen to walk past some trees that are wrapped in winter scarves!
Upon closer inspection we read the attached tags…
“I am not lost! If you’re stuck out in the cold please take this to keep warm”
As much as I love our community gardens, public art, Farmer’s Markets, greenways, bikeways and beautiful mountain scenery, THIS stole my heart. The note is right! We are NOT lost; we’re finding our way, inch by inch, and scarf by scarf in a world that I sometimes feel is cold and scary. We’re making the transitions that are necessary to keep us connected and vibrant, but It really does take a village. My village is awesome!
Filed under: Frugality | Tags: community gardens, greenhouse, potlucks, yard sales
I was given a greenhouse. That’s it up there ↑. The couple that owned it just wanted to get rid of it, and said if I could figure out how to get it home, I could have it. Where there’s a will there’s a way… A friend with a pick up truck and a flat bed trailer came to the rescue, along with a bunch of guys from my church. Plans for outfitting it and planting some winter greens are brewing!
The greenhouse alone would’ve been the frugalist ? thing ever but life goes on as usual and each day is a new opportunity to ‘live well on less’.
Monday: Michael and I volunteered to deliver posters around town for the local college’s ‘School of the Arts’ fall series and earned tickets to a performance tomorrow night at our regional live theater for doing so. We’re going to see “Hollywood Confidential”. The tickets would’ve cost us $37 a piece, so this was a real bonus. In addition to the theater tickets, we were also given a gift card for 2 free ice cream cones at the local ice cream shoppe, Yum!
Tuesday: I tried a new recipe for zucchini, taken directly from a recent edition of Mother Earth News. Basically, slice and fry, turning to brown evenly on both sides, then drain on paper towels, sprinkle with salt and pepper. I also fried up some sage leaves for about 3 minutes to garnish the slices with. It’s a great way to use up that sage AND zucchini, and it filled out a meal of leftover casserole, garlic bread and corn on the cob. Oh yeah, it was really good. Now I only have 99 more zucchini to use up 😉
Wednesday: We worked in the gardens for quite a while today and were really hot and tired afterwards. Have you ever been grocery shopping and when you were through, felt too exhausted to cook? That’s where we were on this night. It happened to be the night for my church’s monthly Wednesday night supper and we were able to enjoy a glass of wine, a wonderful meal and dessert for $5 a piece!. By tracking our expenses, we’d become aware of a gradual increase in eating out over recent months so we’ve been trying to cut back. It’s really easy this time of year when there is so much fresh produce to put to good use in the kitchen, but on this particular day, we caved and enjoyed an evening of fun and relaxation with our church friends. An added bonus: We’ve realized that eating out more infrequently gives us a greater sense of satisfaction when we do indulge. What’s the old saying? “Familiarity breeds contempt”. Occasional meals out have become special once again.
Thursday: This was the night of the annual Harvest Potluck for the nearby community garden. Need I say more? The food was all fresh, all local, and home grown. I had a hit with my ‘Double Delight Chocolate Cake’ made with cooked, mashed sweet potatoes and grated zucchini added to the batter. It is so moist that no icing is needed, although I did dust it with powdered sugar before serving. Adding the veggies cuts down on the oil needed by 2/3’s AND now I only have 98 more zucchinis to use up. Piece of cake!
Friday: Yard sale finds today: two nice tee shirts for 50 cents each and two candles for the same price. One candle is a fancy, schmancy ‘hand poured’ one in a cool jar (which can be repurposed once it’s been burned) and the other is gift quality, still in the wrapper and with a bow. They both smell lovely. We love candles but new ones can be truly pricey. I’m always on the lookout for them at yard sales and have plenty in stock, rarely paying over $1.00 for them. Candles and home-made soaps are my two little luxuries that I hope to always be able to enjoy-and greenhouses too.
But you know what? Learning to live well on less has given me a deep feeling of abundance that’s not based on money or stuff, but on a sense of enough. It’s a mindset, more than anything I think. If this blog only gets that point across I’ll consider it successful. My hope is that the frugality aspects of my posts will lead you to a greater sense of resilience and community mindedness as well. Regardless of what the stock market says, we’re living in dangerous and uncertain times. Having skills to share and a community of folks to be a part of (whether that’s your neighbors, your church, your coworkers or your yoga class!) will enable us to not only survive, but to thrive as we transition to a leaner life.