Cucumbers, peppers. squash, mint, kale, blackberries, parsley, beans and eggplant from the Garland Community Garden delivered to the Garland Good Samaritans June 14, 2017. Photo Pam Swendig, Director Garland Good Samaritans.
Sometimes it takes a second look to understand we are realizing our dreams
We may sometimes think we've failed when in fact, we have succeeded--just not in the way we envisioned. My dreams and visions often get re-packaged and I don’t always recognize them when they are right in front of me. After some retrospect I see that I am fulfilling a dream I had back a few years ago. It just occurred to me as I was looking at the photo above that Jane sent me this morning. The remembrance of this dream was stirred yesterday as Jane and I harvested food from the Garland Community Garden for the Good Samaritans. We were talking about the awful shooting that happened in Washington yesterday—the 70-something man from Illinois who opened fire on some government folks in Washington.
I mentioned to Jane as we worked in the garden that I once tried to get on the ballot to run as an Independent for US Congress. Actually I tried twice. In order to get on the ballot one needs signatures of 500 registered voters from the district in which the candidate is hoping to represent. The first time around in 2010 I only collected 600 signatures and only 482 ended up being qualified voters. Steeled with that experience, the next time in 2012 I collected 2,000 signatures. I collected every one by knocking on doors and talking with people.
The instructions from the Texas Secretary of State’s office regarding notarizing the signature pages were not clear to me. I couldn’t tell if only the top page needed the stamp or if every single sheet needed the stamp. I called and no one I talked with could answer my question. The last person I talked to suggested I drive to Austin and someone from the legal department from the Secretary of State’s office would do it.
I drove to Austin and a representative from the Texas Secretary of State’s office notarized my signature pages. Ten days later I got a letter from Greg Abbott’s office telling me that my documents were rejected because they were not properly notarized.
Of course I protested. I even called an ethics committee that is available in DC for candidates running for national office. I was told my case ‘was not in their jurisdiction.’ They suggested I consult with the Attorney General of Texas. The Catch-22 situation was a bit like seeking justice from the perpetrator.
I gave up after a month of trying, but I never forgot many of the very desperate people that I talked with—at least 50 of whom I sat at their kitchen table to hear their stories. Many of these people, like the man from Illinois, were over 70 years of age living on limited resources that didn’t quite stretch over the entire month.
Two Stories of Quiet Desperation
The first story was of a man who was in his mid thirties but was horribly wasted with cancer. He had been home just a few weeks from the hospital. Home care visited him twice a week and that was it for human contact. His “friends” at work didn’t visit. He was literally a shut-in. I told him I would stop when when I was in the neighborhood. I continued to visit him about twice a week from March until November. Then one day in November there was a “for rent” sign in the yard and he was gone. The last month we hardly spoke. I would just hold his hand. It was a simple, yet important exchange between two human beings. He taught me all kinds of lessons--not the least of which was the importance of friends and relationships--real friends who stand by you-- not just acquaintances.
The second story was of an 80-something man. He told me that he got by “pretty good” until the last week of the month. For the last week of the month he ate only peanut butter and crackers and water from the faucet. That’s living in the USA? We all might seriously consider the world of people with nothing left to lose that is being created right in our own community—not to mention the entire USA and then take action to make things better. It behooves us, if for no other reason than self-preservation to reach out to those in need that we call “stranger.”
Local Is Our Natural Habitat
These experiences convinced me that the only change or influence I have is at the local level where I can meet people and government officials face-to-face and have real conversations with them. That’s exactly where I’ve been for the past five years L-O-C-A-L Garland.
I’m convinced that gardens like The Garland Community Garden bring people together and help educate and protect the community. I thought about that this morning when I looked at the produce we delivered to Good Sam’s yesterday.
I am helping people like the elderly man who subsists on peanut butter and crackers each month—but only if he knows about places like the Good Samaritans--And then perhaps only if he has transportation to get to Garland Good Sam’s. Sometimes we hold back our gifts because we mistakenly believe them to not be enough, or good enough. In the larger scheme of things, a few pounds of fresh produce from your garden delivered to a local food distribution organization might not seem like much. However to the individual who gets those 8 ounces of blackberries or that delicious tomato from the garden, your donation is a significant treasure in their diet for the week. All good deeds add up. Driving someone to pick up food at a food bank once a month is a priceless gift to that person.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
If you live in Garland, you could visit the Good Samaritans. Perhaps you might decide to volunteer for this organization. If you do visit them, be sure to look at the eight 27-gallon pots of beans that Loving Garland Green and the Good Sam volunteers installed. Each of these containers will most likely produce a minimum of 30 pounds of beans. That’s 240 pounds of food from 8 pots. You could plant a pot of pole beans at your place too. You could even simply plant a few poles in the ground (We did that too at good Sam’s). Pole beans are the gift that keeps giving.
Garland Community Garden June 14, 2017 – Marie Vining Beans – This pot has thus far produced 12 pounds of beans and the season has just begun. We anticipate having beans from this one pot from now until the first frost. Pole beans will slow production down in July and August, but in September until the first frost there will be a second coming. We installed 8 of these pots at the Garland Good Samaritans in April of 2017.
In the Larger Scheme of Things
We are more like the Bumblebee than we may realize. Yesterday I saw yet another bumble bee hanging upside down doing his buzz pollination thing—for himself, the corn and other pollinators. It’s a good thing to be like the bumblebee that goes ahead and does its thing without considering its importance to the chain of life. Like the Bumblebee, we are small, when considered against the backdrop of our larger universe. In fact that is the excuse that some use for never even trying in the first place. Yet the impact of a single human being moving forward in a purposeful manner can make such a difference in the life of another. We are the gift, but most of the time we forget this in our concerns over the size and appearance of the outer wrappings.