Monday, February 16, 2009

It takes a village...

My friend Eco Grrl brought up the differnce in mentality between these two view points, "It takes a village to raise a child," and "Every man for himself." On the one hand is collaboration and I think the least amount of waste, and on the other is selfishness and a lot of excess. On a small scale I often will cook dinner and I will think it very good and I know a bunch of my friends would like it, but sometimes my kids just won't eat it, or I just cook too much. I try to use leftovers, but... they often get thrown out. But how do I share that? Maybe I need to pay more attention, not buy more than we need (veggies thrown out because they have wilted), call up the neighbors and ask them if they have had dinner yet and if they would like to share some of mine (I did this once, I should do it more often). There are collaborative groups that plan dinners, make schedules and cook for each other on one night of the week. That's great but not everyone likes that kind of a situation and people in that kind of group need to be open minded and have similar expectations about health and cooking. In my case, I would need a group of crazed foodies that like to cook gluten free, sometimes raw, absolutely no refined foods. I have 1 friend that fits the category, their may be others nearby, maybe I should put the idea out there and see who bites. The thing is, there are a lot of collaborative options out there. Like Craigslist and I even know of a yahoogroup called freecycle where people give away their random stuff for free to keep it out of dumpsters. I was thinking about community gardens, I am not sure how they work exactly, but as for myself it would be really hard to work on something like that and then not see the fruit of my labor. That is where the difficulty in collaboration comes up. Who benefits from the garden? Theoretically all of us, but what if you are planning on a garden salad and you want a tomato and cucumber that have been growing then you go to pick them and they are gone? That is the difficulty that people have, that I have. It is a little bit hard to lose that "control" over what you are doing. I would think about how much labor that I am putting into it, about how much labor others are putting into it. How do you divide the produce evenly... I guess that if people worked together, then a community garden could work. People sign up for 1/2 hour - 1 hour time slots and they pull weeds and prune then they are entitled to x amount of pounds of produce for x amount of time, anyone out there with experience on this? What I am thinking about though is what happens when disasters strike, hurricane Katrina and et al. is a good example. I watched a new's report with John Stosal (sic?) reporting, he pointed out the problem with government run programs. An amusing example was an ice skating rink. He showed us the difference between "organized" skating and the natural way people organize themselves. First of all he had people just go out and skate. They naturally fell into a pattern based on ability. People who couldn't skate very well hung near the walls and went slower. People who could skate faster hung near the middle and looked ahead to avoid those who couldn't skate well. Some people helped others to skate. Then he had an "expert" ice skater get up with a blow horn to shout out directions. It confused people, the ones who could skate well slowed down or ignored him, the ones who couldn't skate well got turned around. People started to fall over each other. In other words it didn't work. Then he pointed out the difference between the governments "rebuilding" after Katrina programs and private citizen rebuilding. The districts where the government is in charge are not rebuilt, only a very few people are able to meet the requirements, there are like 10 or so different forms. Even the lawyers that they brought in to sort them out couldn't do it, let alone any ordinary citizen. Then they showed us whole neighborhoods that had been built in under a month by people like Brad Pitt and Habitat for humanity. It is also amazing to me to see doctors and dentists who previously vollunteered in third world country's vollunteering in America. I ask, how well does the government run any program? The answer has always been aparent, not well at all. So in this current climate, with President Obama in charge, I do see some things that are intriguing idea's that he has brought into play. He did ask for a large amount of money, but he has also set up a web site for ordinary people to watch what happens to that money, will it work? He is apparently reaching out and it is clear he is trying to do things differently. I think he did mention in his inaggural speach that we need to work together. Well we need to, there is no other way but letting people fall by the wayside. Even I, and I have no money, can work with others. I will garden, I can share the bounty. I will sew bags for my shopping (I bought some drawstring bags online for vegetables but when I got them I think the fabric is like pillow cases, so I am going to refashion some). I can watch my neighbors little kids if she needs to work (as long as I can). Collaboration can work, we need more of it. I am also thinking that it is my duty to be more involved in the political process. I was really into it before the election, but the ferver died down a bit and so did my sense of urgency. But really I should be learning more about government and how to be involved. Because, as they say evil will win if good men do nothing.


ecogrrl said...

great lovely string of consciousness!

coming from land of the green folks i can give you some of my insight into a few of the topics you brought up...

* freecycle is a GREAT website - essentially you post if you have something to give away OR if you are looking for something. craigslist also has a 'free' section that is pretty fantastic. case in point: in planting new raised beds, you don't need expensive potting soil for all layers, just for the top, so in a quick search of craigslist under 'dirt' i found 5 or 6 listings for free 'come and get it' fill dirt. cool huh!

* regarding community gardens, there are a ton of different kinds, and not all are run by government. many are run by nonprofits. san francisco has one that's run by and for the homeless for example. in my town, our community gardens are donated sections of land where people who don't have space for a garden can have their own plot of land - they are not required to give any of it away. there are over 1000 people on the waiting list! another organization, community gardens, will come in and plant your garden for you in your own back yard, and in exchange you get a portion of the crop and another portion gets sold at farmer's market. and if you want to learn how to sell your own crop, they have classes here showing how to start your own CSA. this month's 'natural home' magazine has a great article about some of the best CSAs in the nation and is a great way to get inspiration. community comes in so many forms!

* i think a beautiful idea with the families taking turns doing meals is that each get to take turns exposing each other to their own cultures, broadening all of our perspectives and helping our children (and ourselves) become less judgmental. hosting a 'gluten free dinner' is a great idea!

* check dis out:

i'm not sure where you live, but maybe your next career move should be creating and marketing your own line of gluten-free yummies for your local farmer's market? (and hey, free child labor! oops i mean you can bring your kids to work! heehee)

Strawberry Girl said...

I like how you think grrl.