Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Class and Lack There Of...

I have been talking recently with another community organizer/hopeful community garden creator. She found me from this blog. Our conversations have been extremely helpful in terms of better understanding why the community garden didn't work, and I feel quite strongly that the issue that created the most problem and opposition to the SHCG was CLASS. By class, I mean the socio-economic position of one in society. Looking back at the comments that were made and the issues that came up through the lens of class, I see things much more clearly. Some members of the SH neighborhood, in a desperate attempt to hold onto the idea that they are of the middle class and therefore better than others, saw the community garden as an indicator of a lower socio-economic status. I turn to the words of the Garden Chick to explain this idea better:


Unfortunately, some members of my neighborhood suffer from a lack of class.


On an interesting side note, I have received many comments which are not in English on my post, The End. The readers do not see these posts because I have the blog set to let me review comments and then chose to publish them or not. Because I was unable to read these posts, I have not been comfortable with publishing them. However, I did ask a friend to translate one message just to see what at least one was about, and she said that the message was one of encouragement, so that is nice. This leads me to request (in case you would like to comment on my blog): PLEASE DO. I value your input and opinions and especially multiple perspectives, but I don't have access to that information unless you put it in English. Sorry for being so monolingual, but I thank you for patience and translation!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The End

Right now in our community, there is too much fear and worry around starting a community garden to take this proposal any further. There will be no Sycamore Hills Community Garden.

Thus, this site now does not apply to Sycamore Hills, but I am going to keep it up in case other people looking to start a community garden would like to see how the process went for us.

I hope this helps you, and feel free to contact me for additional information.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

My Speech for the Annual Meeting

Here is what I am going to share at the annual meeting on Monday. A neighbor came by and suggested I share this to help people understand the situation and come to the meeting in a positive way.

Hi, I’m Amy _, and I would like to speak on behalf of the community garden planners and volunteers tonight about the garden proposal. The community garden project began over a year ago with the distribution of a survey to each and every household in Sycamore Hills. Two basic questions were asked: Is there interest in and support for the garden proposal, and if so, where should the garden be located?

We asked these questions because we wanted to find out if the community garden was something our neighborhood wanted. It was very important to us that our neighbors felt that their voices mattered in the planning process, even if they didn’t plan to be directly involved in the garden itself. We asked questions and listened carefully, especially when people expressed reservations about the garden, because we wanted the project to be for and by the community.

Many people responded to the initial survey. Those responses can be summed up as follows: Yes, we think a community garden is a good idea, but putting the garden on Shadowbrook is not a good idea. Based on this positive response from the community, planning for the garden moved forward, with a focus on locating the garden in the park.

Meetings were held to which all were invited, emails were sent out, updates were published, and a blog was set up so that everyone could see and take part in the planning. And good things started to happen! People joined in and helped shape the garden--they volunteered their time to work on the four grants we submitted, they worked on the entrances to raise money for the project, they worked with the City of Columbus to create a new community garden/city park lease agreement, and they wrote letters to businesses and schools to create partnerships.

Until very recently, none of the garden planners had any idea that a few people were unhappy about the community garden project. No one contacted any of the garden planners with a simple phone call or email for clarification. Instead, a handful of folks spread misinformation, and as a result, what had been apathy on the part of some turned into anger.

When the garden planners finally caught wind of some opposition to the plan, a new survey was distributed. Again, the idea was to invite people to voice their feelings about the garden proposal and to take part in the planning. Many people responded (thank you) and so now we have a more accurate idea of how the community garden proposal is perceived. Although there is even more support for the garden than before, there is also new opposition to the garden in the park. Because we could not find a location that worked for everyone and because our intention was always to do the will of the community, the garden project will not move forward at this time.

It is disappointing that the many people who spent hours volunteering their time for this community project could have and would have spent their time more productively on other projects if people had expressed their concerns about the garden project when first given the opportunity to do so. We hope that the people who are involved now will continue to be involved in positive and neighborly ways and that people who have good ideas for the community do not become reluctant to propose them because of the way in which the garden project has unfolded.

This is the end of the community garden, but the beginning of something else. Just the planning and working toward the garden have brought many neighbors together. I personally have made new friends and connected with people I wouldn’t have had a chance to talk with otherwise. This work has created a lot of support and interest in a community building initiative around gardening, so we hope that all of that goodwill and fellowship create something else really great.

In closing, thank you to the neighbors who joined in the conversation, thank you to the volunteers who gave of themselves for the betterment of others, and thank you for your attention.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Another neighborhood with a CG

Here is the text from the development website. I know there are many others.

New Community Garden in Summerwood
Submitted by Pulte Homes on Mon, 06/22/2009 - 12:44 in
Our new home owners are excited about the new community garden that our developers have made available in Summerwood! I have had the pleasure of meeting quite a few Summerwood residents over the past few weeks and the main topic of conversation in the community garden! They have commented that it is a great place to meet new friends! The children are having so much fun getting buckets of water from the pond and watering their gardens! The adults have planted a pumpkin and watermelon patch that the children are really excited about! There is a lot of action going on at our community garden! Maybe one day our new home owner's will host a Mint Hill Farmer's market!
I have been selling new homes in the South Charlotte area for over 10 years and Summerwood is by far the prettiest community!

Monday, September 28, 2009


Three lovely people showed up to work on the entrances on Saturday. We weeded, trimmed and prepped the beds for winter. None of us could bare to take out the annuals because they look so lovely, so we left them to remove later.

The rain started in earnest shortly there after, which might be why people didn't show up for the perennial exchange. However, plants were exchanged with neighbors on a door to door basis later on, and new friends were made, which was the point of all of it--so let's just call that one a success! :) Hopefully this will be a biannual tradition.

Much of the discussion on Saturday centered around catching people up on the opposition to the garden. Ideas of a revitalization of the garden club ensued as a different way to help get people involved in the community and connected. We will see where this all goes.

Lastly, today surveys were handed out to neighbors, and an electronic version will go out via email. Hopefully the organizers will get a lot of responses.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Updated Survey and Information August 2009

This survey will go out to residents around 9/26. This was a solution I proposed to the SHRA board and concerned neighbors. We all thought it is a good idea to get more information on this specific garden proposal now that a lot of work has been done and we know more.

The previous survey showed that people wanted the garden, but not at Shadowbrook. Many people responded via returned surveys, emails, and letters. No one from the park area had anything to say at that time, so a year's worth of planning and coordination with the city to establish the first community garden in a city park commenced. The SHCG planners were successful in laying the foundation for a garden in a city park, which is a huge accomplishment.

In the past week, neighbors that live around the park expressed concerns about it going there and a few individuals approached the board and Amy to talk. Those talks again show that people are either in favor of, or indifferent to a community garden, but that they don't want it in their backyard.

This kind of information is exactly what I wanted to gather. Mainly, do people want a garden? if so, where?

If people want it, I will put in the work to do it. I have always tried to communicate that I am not doing this garden for me, I am offering this garden as a gift to the community that I love. I love this community enough that not only did I love growing up here, I eventually bought my childhood home so that I could raise my own family here.

If people don't want it, well, that is okay too. I just need to know whether or not to work on it. A CG is something I know a lot about, I know it would be a great thing for the community, and I would help create it IF AND ONLY IF people want it. People said they wanted it. Now people around the park are saying they don't.

So just to be sure I have my information correct, and it is not a squeeky wheel being heard over the rest, I am going to do another survey.

With all of that said, I forsee that the location and water are combining to make the community garden an idea that most likely is not going to happen in this community. I do wish I could have helped people to accurately envision how wonderful the garden will be so that they would be willing to work through their concerns with thorough and detailed planning, but that did not happen.