Volunteers and clients at Good Samaritans of Garland helped us load the new addition for the Garden.
Today Charlie and I picked up a picnic table donated to the garden by the Good Samaritans of Garland and unloaded it at the garden.
Like most food banks across the Good Sam’s have really been taxed to the max. The need for food has increased 600%. Insane, isn’t it? And the need continues to be pressing.
ABOUT THE TURQUOISE TABLE--the table that started a movement.
Kristin Schell of Austin wanted to connect with her neighbors and build friendships, so she put an ordinary picnic table in her front yard, painted it turquoise, and began inviting friends and neighbors to join her.
Like many movements, the Turquoise Table movement had a serendipitous beginning. Kristin was planning an outdoor party and ordered an inexpensive picnic table from Lowe’s. The delivery guy unloaded it on her front lawn and asked her where she wanted it. On a whim she kept in in the front yard. She slapped a can of turquoise paint on it and was soon was meeting many more of her neighbors. People are always curious and ask me, ‘Why do you have a turquoise table in your front yard?’ I tell them, ‘To meet people like you…’ And they just open up and sit down.”
It’s a throwback to another time of front porch sitting and conversations with people passing. “There’s something magical that happens when we take time to sit down face-to-face for conversation,” she said. “We all long for a place to belong, to connect in authentic and meaningful ways with one another.” Turquoise Tables have become a movement. They are now registered in all 50 states.
A PARALLEL UNIVERSE IN GARLAND TEXAS - March 2013
While Kristin was having her front yard experience in 2013, I was also having mine about 213 miles to the north. I decided to dig up my lawn and plant a garden in my front yard. There is far too much shade from the trees in my back yard to grow anything. After about the third day of digging, people driving and walking by began to stop and ask questions. It was amazing. I had lived there for 5 years and often was in my front yard--getting mail, mowing my lawn and trimming the shrubs. No one had ever stopped once to chat.
Digging up one’s front yard lawn in the USA is far outside the world of status quo. Front lawns are the most grown crop in the U.S. and you can’t even eat them. Their primary purpose is cosmetic. The state of a homeowner’s lawn is important in relation to the owner’s status. They’re viewed as an indicator of socio-economic character, which translates into property- and resale values. Thus, a properly maintained lawn tells others you are a good neighbor. So, what are we to think of a person who digs up their front lawn or dares to put a turquoise picnic table on it?
Digging up one’s front yard and replacing it with an orchard and vegetable garden is as alien to Americans as a turquoise table on one’s front lawn. No wonder Kristin and I got visitors. People are curious. Picnic tables belong in the back yard, not the front yard. Gardens belong in the back yard, not the front yard.
Both Kristin and I were violating unspoken laws of the front lawn: You keep it fertilized and mowed. You don’t put lawn furniture on it, and you certainly don’t dig it up. Unlike Kristin, I was not trying to attract people, and yet they came anyway. Before the end of the first week people walking by stopped to chat and ask me what I was doing. And during that first week a few people driving by in their cars stopped and got out to chat with me.
Of course, the main topic of our conversations was gardening. After about two weeks, I began keeping track of how many stopped. By the time I finished near the end of May, 122 people had stopped to talk during that time. It was also from these conversations that a core group was formed and we ended up establishing a Community Garden here in Garland on April 24, 2014.
THREE PATHS CROSS IN 2021
Somehow it seems fitting that the serendipitous journey of two women, living 213 miles apart who decided to repurpose their front yards in 2013 should be united by a turquoise picnic table. It was Pam Swendig, Executive Director of Good Samaritans of Garland who tied the whole experience together. Pam is in charge of the operations of a non-profit food distribution service in Garland. The Good Samaritans of Garland feed the homeless and the hungry in our community. They operate out of an old refurbished residential home near downtown. We give several hundred pounds of food from our garden and pantries to Good Sam’s every year.
A while back, Pam decided to put a lot of turquoise picnic tables around the side of their facility for people to sit in the shade--particularly the homeless who have nowhere to go. She may be hoping that these turquoise tables, like the one in the yard of Kristin Schell of Austin would attract people of the neighborhood walking by to stop and chat with the homeless. I don’t know. I do know that when people stop and take the time to actually talk with one another, magical things happen.
I’m thrilled that we now have one of these lovely tables in our garden. Thank you, Pam! And I thank all the volunteers at the Good Samaritans of Garland for all the wonderful and selfless work that you do. I fully expect the turquoise table you gave us to bring even more magic to our Garland Community Garden.