Back in April I hosted a live blog chat about greening our lives. Folks across the country shared great tips and ideas about what steps they're taking to leave smaller, shallower footprints on our earth. Some of the discussion centered around figuring out the best way to explain to others why we should be more careful with our planet and her inhabitants. Most felt it was best to show by example. Then, while we're walking our talk, if questions come up or it seems appropriate to expound on certain subjects, we all agreed to "go for it!"
So a couple of weeks ago during dinner, I mentioned that I'd be heading to our town's middle school with Sustainable Scituate (our town is part of Sustainable South Shore in Massachusetts) to help cultivate the many vegetables and herbs growing in the newly dug organic garden. This garden is going to help stock the town's food pantry and be shared with some elderly neighbors.
My husband asked if he could join me, and then my 18-year-old son wolfed down his dinner and said he'd like to come too (after working his summer job: an 11-hour day for a local building contractor). He's heading off to college in the fall to study social entrepreneurship with a focus on business and environmental courses and has been interested in sustainable agriculture for the past several years.
When we arrived at the garden, we joined the other volunteers donning gloves and lugging tools and immediately saw the fine work the rabbits did in munching a lot of the lettuces; the fencing clearly wasn't strong enough. My husband figured out how to install the fencing differently and my son started digging a bunch of post holes! The rest of us drove the fencing posts into the ground, weeded or re-planted, and all the while chatted about everything from baby names and organic baby food (one of our volunteers is due in a few weeks) to what we're doing to save energy at the schools and other town buildings and how soon our town's wind turbine would be installed.
We quickly realized our common threads and began to wonder how we'd get the word out about how much fun all of this community volunteering can be, never mind all of the benefits derived. We decided we'd send a picture of the mostly "before" looking garden to the local paper and follow up later in the fall with the "after" photo when we'd be harvesting and delivering. No one had a camera, though, and some were worried we missed our opportunity. I wasn't worried at all!
You see, I've been feeling a movement underfoot and a current in the air - what Paul Hawkens calls "Blessed Unrest." I see and feel more energy being focused in the same "green" direction. For example, a couple of weeks ago I received two emails from people encouraging me to watch the movie Food, Inc. One from a Whole Foods Market team member - not surprising - but the other was from someone who is not associated with the natural foods business. Cool!
Then, while having dinner out the other night, a woman sat next to me and she pulled out her book... Mountains Beyond Mountains
by Tracy Kidder. Last summer, as part of his role as director on his school's community service board, my son placed Mountains Beyond Mountains
, the story of Dr. Paul Farmer, on the required summer reading list for faculty and students. I told my dinner neighbor that I thought it was a great choice! We spoke at length about the book and about other wonderful things people are doing all over the place.
Then she explained she had recently attended a celebration honoring the efforts of volunteers who helped open the new Scituate Animal Shelter. She's a veterinarian who donated surgical space. I felt energized by the synchronicity. We knew several volunteers there as well: the lead landscaper was also a volunteer with the community organic garden and several other volunteers are part of the Sustainable Scituate membership. Many of these folks work full time and have young families, yet they find the time to volunteer not only for one great cause but several.
It's inspiring to see these efforts coming together, the momentum growing and all of these community activists saying: "Yes, in my backyard!" Keep walking the talk... we are making a difference.