Saturday, November 3

West Valley? A Community?


Okay, so remember when I said that I've been dreaming about more space? Physical space, Emotional space, Social space, Community space? Well, that little dream I've been dreaming about the container house and the small farm, just got a little farther away. But it's alright. The good thing about dreams, as far as I'm concerned, is that if the current one seems to bomb and sink, then there's always one more waiting to hoist you up so you don't fall too low. This describes my situation right now. We've pretty much decided to deal with the cards we've been dealt for a while and we're not letting anything keep us down. I expect that over the next few months I will dwell much here, on what we are going to do to follow our dreams and make new ones with our small house, yard and family and big dog. The reality is that it has been a hard thing for me to accept. But amazing things are going to happen in our small realm. I can feel it.

One such thing will likely expand every single one of the space points mentioned at the top. If we can make it happen. You might know that for the last couple months I've been working, on a volunteer basis, with Wasatch Community Gardens, as an Outreach intern. To put it in the simplest terms possible: WCG (In addition to all of it's other community garden related functions) facilitates the County's Urban Farming Initiative for new community gardens to form all over Salt Lake County. They've set aside a few sites on public parks land that they've said they'll fund Community Gardens on for those who want them, one park at a time. A couple weeks into my intern project there I found out that one of these potential sites is the park that sits a block away from me. And so, separately from my internship, I am putting together an application for Salt Lake County to choose our neighborhood for next year's Community Garden. Applications are due on December 1st. So I am busily trying to get the word out about it and gather names of other interested persons.

To put it lightly, the benefits of community gardening are limitless. We'd all like to live in places we can call havens or at least that feel like them. Right now I can't claim that. All I can claim is what resides within the address on my mailbox, though not even the mailbox itself. Right now it's a safe haven for a few things: drug dealers, truant adolescents, young graffiti artists and pit bulls. I don't feel my children are safe when they play in my neighborhood. I can't say when I look out my window that I know my neighbors. I know more and like more than I did two years ago and there have even been times when I felt like a few members rallied in my favor. But I don't have a strong sense of community here. And I would imagine that most people who live here feel the same way. I know a few people that go to my church, a few people that live on my block, and I recognize a few faces when I go to the park with my kids, but for the most part no body knows anybody else. And I figure it isn't this way because anyone wants it to be. It's just that we don't have things that tie us together. We don't have enough reasons to share space, talk to each other and watch out for each other. So that's the most important reason I want to start a community garden here.

I'm hoping that I can find people who want the same thing as me. People who like gardening, or people who live here and just want to find a stronger and safer community. It also wouldn't hurt to have more fresh healthy food around.

This image was taken from the Rose Park Community Garden Blog which you can see by following this link. If you've lived in Salt Lake for long you've probably heard what Rose Park use to be like. Much like what I described above. But in recent years it has turned into a community that feels clean and friendly and vibrant. If you live in West Valley, consider this: this picture could be us in a year. People who right now don't know each other. People who live in the same place and want the same thing, but have no way to do it together. In a year we could have a place to meet and something to show for who we are. A community I would be proud to be part of, because the people who live there decided that it was worth taking a hand in and taking back.

A community is not built by one person alone. I need 4 people to organize the garden with me. Right now our future garden is a piece of grass. In order for it to become a garden we need to show that we can make it happen. After it is approved we'll need to design it, build it and find other people to support it. But before that can happen I need 4 more people who want to give from 40 to 60 hours of their time during this year to organize and mobilize the garden. But unless there are 4 people who, like me, want something more, it will stay just a big piece of grass.  Do you live in West Valley and have a long term stake in your neighborhood? Do you want to be a part of something that will make this a safer place to live? Contact me directly at billythehigbee@yahoo.com. I am putting an application together for the West Valley, Hillsdale Park on 3200 W and 3300 So. Our application needs to be completed and given to Wasatch Community Gardens and Salt Lake County by December 1, 2012.

Or, if you live in Salt Lake County and are interested in Gardening or Community Building in and around one of the other parks please contact giles@wasatchgardens.org.

Wasatch Community Gardens is an amazing resource for anyone who wants to learn more about growing their own food or build communities.  They provide gardening classes, seeds, heirloom plants, leadership training and much more for people in the community. For more information on them and the Parks for Produce Program go to the Parks for produce page at Wasatch Community Gardens.

No comments: