Building A SustaInable Life...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Homes New and Old

It's hard to believe I haven't posted in over a month. Slackity, slackity.

'Cept not really. In that time I've travelled with my family to New Brunswick, pretty well coming to the conclusion that it just might the place to be when it comes time to enact the plan. It's a pretty interesting place - a vibrant mix of thriving, energetic city life (technically smaller than here, but you'd never guess it), old seaside villages, roaring tides, big old farmhouses, ocean, lake, river... and, wouldn't you know it, pretty darn affordable housing and living expenses. The question then becomes, what kind of life do we want to make for ourselves? We like old fishermen. They're great. Do we want to live in one's house? Well, that one had a crumbling foundation... trade-offs, you know how it is. There's oceanfront with no acreage, acreage with big trees but no ocean, and so forth, but you know, these are okay problems to have. No complaints here, just ruminations.

So that happened. Since September I've also been helping to put the garden to bed for another year. Garden, you say? You ain't mentioned no garden! We actually decided not to have one at our home this year. With two wee ones, an expansive garden at the in-laws', and, truth be told, a proximity to the steel plant that makes me a bit distrustful of our soil, we just chose to skip it for now. But since 2009, I've been involved in starting up a campus community garden at the local university. It's really been a beautiful project (and the source of my mint sachets) that grew out of a desire to address environmental concerns, food security issues, and community-building in one tangible action project.

I love telling the story of how The People's Garden came to be... one of the beautiful things about the small university here is how it provides a good incubator for student projects and enables them to get off the ground, and that definitely happened here. My partner and I were able to sit down with the university president, as well as various members of staff and faculty, tell them our sweet plan, get them totally on board, and run with it. People who actually knew something about gardening offered their help; even more people who knew as little as we did jumped in to get their hands dirty and learn right along with us.

BAM, a garden was born! Er, sown. Planted? And in just two years, it's gone from this:

 To this:

With plenty of opportunities for community-building along the way.

So it's time now to close it up for another year, and there's a chance this year will be my last. As long as I'm living here, I'll think of The People's Garden as my home away from home, but that may not be for much longer. This project taught me how to garden organically, but it also taught me how to speak in front of an audience, how to give presentations, how to make an idea grow from a tiny seed into a very real thing, how to bring people together for a common goal, how to plan events, how to prepare budgets and fundraise, and how to facilitate meetings.

Most significantly, it taught me that there's always room for good work; never assume something can't be done just because the powers that be haven't already done it, or because it seems too much for one person to do alone. If it's truly good work, you'll never be doing it alone.

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