Monday, June 8, 2020

Bleeding hearts

Bleeding hearts seems like an appropriate flower for these times. 

Perhaps you too are taking out all of your anxieties in plants; the one plus side of the last three months being that many of us are going to have our best gardens ever. As I read about more and more continuing stories of brutality and unrest, a woman who's car is surrounded by ten officers who beat the windows out before pulling her out by her hair in Chicago, an old man pushed aside and bleeding out of his ears--my peas have no idea how many emotions I am trellising alongside them. 

Yesterday I came across this very thoughtful article "Making peace in inner city Oakland, one block at a time" by John Dear. Peace. It reminded me so much of an interview I did in college with the founder of a community garden in Pomona, CA which was created in response to a child, not yet in school, who was killed in the crossfire of rivaling races. This was in the same neighborhood as my middle school. I think it was then I became committed to gardens as a place for social justice as well as eco-justice. I knew I would somehow incorporate gardens into my graduate work. 

From the article, “To be a presence of peace and nonviolence in the neighborhood, …means going deep into contemplation and connection with the earth, especially if you live in the inner city”

I no longer live in a city. And besides our local small University my region is depressingly homogenous. For the first time in my life I understand how it is even possible for 75% of white Americans to have 0% of their friends be a minority ethnicity.  We (collectively)need some new friends y'all. If our social circles were a plant they would be something like bermuda grass: homogenous, boring, pervasive, obnoxiously exclusive, and unsustainable. 

"We want to take down the physical fences in the neighborhood and the fences in our hearts, because we know our real security is not in our fences or the bars on our windows, but in our relationships. This is the way to peace. We have misguides warrior energy in our neighborhood(s).  Our young people are fighting and dying to protect their 'turf.' We want to suggest that the turf is the earth. These young people are our future and we need to invest in them. That means redirecting their 'warrior' energy toward fighting for and protecting both open space in our neighborhood, so we can grow food locally..."

During this time when no one was visiting, a new friend and I keep leaving pots on each other's porches. She has things I need. I grew things she wants. My daughter and I leave plants as presents for people we are missing. My church is also using this time to double down on their community garden. (A garden is something I see as an essential requirement to joining a church). They hope to bring more joy and make a dent in self-sufficiency for food security for those for whom this time has brought financial insecurity. I hope in this way the future is going to pot-- tiny little sprigs of hope being disseminated to all the nooks, crannies, and cracks where they are needed most.

Every few weeks my friend and neighbor brings me eggs. The church gardener though is the only other visitor I have had. Cheerfully he leaves seeds, plants, and a bountiful amount of compost. He knows, and I'm re-learning, again and again, that with intention, with cultivation, beautiful things can grow from all of this rotten stuff. 

Rainbow out car window on the way to Lake Superior

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