This past Sunday afternoon we went spent a few hours working at the Learning Garden at Venice High School. It is an example of a successful school garden, and reaches many parts of the community. UCLA horticulture teaches its extension program here, and various community groups volunteer to help maintain the space. Since community gardens and urban food production are all the rage these days (I’m sure you know someone who knows someone with chickens in their backyard) and I’ve passed by the garden for years on both bike and in my car, I figured it was about time I see what it was all about.
When my buddy Nick sent me the invite to attend “the garden party,” my initial reaction as “sweet.” Who doesn’t like getting dirty and spending time outdoors on an 85-degree Sunday in March? My second (more selfish) reaction was that I should start working on my own garden, which has been stripped down in preparation for planting.
But over the course of a day or two, as the garden party time came closer, I started to think about the implications of accepting the invitation. It would most definitely mean spending time with preachy hippies on my Sunday afternoon, something that was a huge counterbalance to the above stated “getting dirty outdoors” benefit. Alas, I jumped in Nick’s borrowed convertible Mini Cooper and cruised to the garden party in style.
When we got there, the mix of people was what I expected – some older people who had very solid gardening expertise, some younger people choosing to spend part of their Sunday afternoon being socially responsible (and very ahead of the curve), a few dogs, and yes, a few preachy hippies. I mostly chose to spend time with the dogs, but appreciated the bits of knowledge I picked up from knowledgeable gardeners. All told, it was awesome to spend an afternoon putting in honest work for the benefit of others (though I’m not exactly sure who).
So what’s my point here? It’s this. Doing things like working in a community garden and meeting new people is something I genuinely like to do. But I don’t want to have to deal with sustainability snobs and a “crunchier than though” attitudes. This is a hard balance, but by grabbing a group of friends and going with them to these types of events, the scales start to tip in a less preachy direction. Getting together with like-minded people and participating in positive activities is satisfying. So I try not to be dissuaded by things like hippies (they’ll always be around). Have fun and shovel some dirt with your friends.
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