Category Archives: Community

Passing it On

Vinca on balcony
My first gardening foray in 2009 was to plant two window boxes of vinca on our very shady patio.

It’s no secret that I love gardening. Obviously, you don’t garden on a balcony if you don’t truly love it.

I think I would have gotten into gardening at some point as I became more interested in environmental issues, but my interest in gardening predates that.

Some of my earliest memories from childhood are gardening at our rental house. I remember piling potatoes and onions in the outdoor closet for winter, planting bright-colored corn seeds and not wanting to touch cucumbers for their prickles. When we moved into the first house my parents owned, we enjoyed garden strawberries (or at least the ones the birds didn’t eat) while picking and weeding the garden became a part of my regular chores.

Of course I wanted a garden of my own the first chance I got, not waiting for a yard (though I still dream of one).

So if I got my love of gardening from my dad, where did he get it? From his dad, of course. My grandfather still gets great joy out of his flowers and vegetables and loves to show them off.

I’m thankful that my family didn’t forget the art of gardening when them moved off farms and into town. Most people aren’t that fortunate.

So how do we pass on green habits?

We invite others alongside us when we practice them. This goes double for our kids. I was recently visiting a friend who gardens here in Colorado. While we chatted in her garden, her kids were showing off their favorite plants by name. Obviously, they had spent a lot of time out in the garden.

I’m convinced that one of the best things we can do to spread green living is to live out our example in the open and discuss our motivations freely as opportunity presents itself.

The Hippie’s Husband

I so wish I had captured my husband Riley’s reaction the day he got the mail and discovered this:

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Yes, you saw correctly:  that’s my first issue of the magazine, Modern Farmer.

It was one of my Recycle Bank rewards I chose.  It was a very interesting read–for example, I had no idea that suburban duck farming was a “thing.”

The irony here is that I am about the furthest thing from a farmer…ever.  Sure, I can sort of walk the walk when it comes to gardening, composting, and living close to nature.  I even have two small “horses.”  But a farmer I am not–partly due to lack of education in the field (literally and figuratively), and partly because I am squeamish about certain aspects.

So when Riley picked up the mail the day my first Modern Farmer issue arrived, his part-incredulous, part-amused, part-“here we go again” response of, “You subscribe to Modern Farmer?!” 

Yes.  Yes, I do.

This is the man who also has been through (several) sourdough bread starters (stay tuned for more on that one next week!), minimizing (read:  chucking) the heck out of our belongings, eating really healthy, and taken care of student loan debt with me.  Most of the time, I get the same incredulous, amused, or pained (as with the case of a particular healthy recipe gone awry) look from him when I approach him with another “hippie thing.”

Still, he puts up with it, as do our children, but the latter don’t really know any differently, since Mama has always been a hippie to them.

This post isn’t meant to be a love ode to the hubs, but rather to illustrate that it really is a lot easier to go at this lifestyle with someone (or many someones).  It’s helpful to commiserate, brainstorm, and collaborate with someone–spouse or otherwise–as you seek to improve and accomplish.  Take a minute and ponder who fills that role in your life–it definitely helps me!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have more Modern Farmer to read…

Building Community

all inI had already thought about writing this post before Amanda posted her post “On Community” a few weeks ago.

I don’t remember what book I was reading recently, but it mentioned that to build in practices of urban homesteading, it is best done with a partner. This makes sense: no farmer would go it alone. He would seek a wife (who would hopefully birth lots of sons), hire help or fail.

I want a partner. The most obvious partner would be a husband, but I don’t have that nor am I actively looking for one. As I have gotten older in my singleness I’ve recognized blessings that come with singleness and I want to take advantage of them as long as I remain single.

The second most obvious partner would be like-minded roommates. For me, it’s important that roommates be like-minded if we’re to be partners in simple living and sustainability. I haven’t found a roommate to partner with, but I will prayerfully look again when my lease is up next summer.

So in the absence of a partner, I must seek community. In fact, even if I had a partner, I still think that it would be healthy and wise to seek community to serve with and alongside towards my “green” goals.

For me, that community is primarily the church. While the evangelical church has been slow to embrace sustainable living, the individual church families I’ve been in have been quick to lend a hand and share with others. I want to continue to foster that in my current church family.

May we all look outside of ourselves and our own families and use our unique gifts to bless others beyond our walls.

Photo by Sombilon Photography

On Community

download (1)Recently I read Creating Community Anywhere:  Finding Support and Connection in a Fragmented World, by Carolyn Shaffer and Kristin Anundsen.

Usually I take what I need or want from a book and run with it, rarely thinking about the source of the information again.  In the case of this book, because there is so much to absorb and because nurturing the relationships I have been given is a constant project for me, I have found myself spending a rather inordinate amount of time pondering the material I read.

The title alludes to the topic at hand:  that of community.  Here are a few thoughts I had before reading the text (in bold) and after reading (in standard text).

1.  How sad a book like this even had to be written.  Upon reflection, I can’t say I’m terribly surprised we need a how-to book about building community.  For starters, we live in an era of physical distance; my own little family lives several hours away from parents, siblings, and extended family for a variety of reasons and this works well for us.  But is that a reason to distance ourselves from creating a different sort of “family” comprised of friends, neighbors, and others in the area we currently are?

Shaffer and Amundsen sum the answer up succinctly:  “…community is no longer a given, and the old forms do not fit current realities.  If people want community today, they have to find new ways to create it for themselves.” (page 5)

2.  I’m introverted, so this book doesn’t really apply to me.  Truth:  I am as big of a hermit as they come.  This is one reason why you read my thoughts on a blog instead of hear me speak to hundreds from a stage.  I like my “me” time, and do think it’s essential to be at peace with spending time alone.  I love seeing movies alone, and enjoy eating out alone.  I enjoy solitary hobbies, such as reading.

But maybe the authors have a point when they say we “cant ignore our interdependence” (page xvi).  Even an introvert like me needs community, in the physical sense (in addition to the virtual sense).  Proof:  I am involved in both our church and the community chorus, as well as our neighborhood.  On a smaller scale, I am married, and I would argue that is also a form of community, albeit a small (population:  2) community.

3.  What can I do/what do I already do to nurture community? As mentioned above, I already participate in the larger communities of church, choir, and our neighborhood, but as in other areas of stewardship, rest assured there is room for improvement!

A few months ago, I read about the 1,000+ Coffees project–the premise being that this particular gentleman made it his goal to have a cup of coffee with each of his 1,000+ Facebook friends, ideally within three years.

This idea appeals to me, and since I have far fewer social media friends and yet still spend an inordinate amount of time online, it is definitely within my realm of possibility.  It would be a great way to marry my online community to my real-life community, at least!

What are your thoughts on community?  How do you “find support and connection in a fragmented world”?