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A work in progress at the Garland Community Garden 4022 Naaman School Road:  The photo above illustrates the completed first layer of wet cardboard and the beginning of the second layer of crumpled newspapers. Since this photo was taken, three more layers have been added to this four foot by twenty foot plot which we hope will become the garden plot to be sponsored by members of the Garland Multicultural Commission.  It looks more like a garden plot today; however there are still layers of soil and organic matter to be added before the plants are installed.  Come visit the garden and see.

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I’m deeply honored to have been selected as one of the presenters at the Annual Neighborhood Summit in October here in Garland on October 25.  This morning as I was working on that presentation, my thoughts naturally turned to how ordinary individuals can and are raising up the power and beauty of their local place.

Something is stirring. People around the world are deciding the well being of their local community and its economy lies with them. They’re people like us. They’ve had enough, and, rather than waiting for permission, they’re getting together with friends and neighbors, and doing something about it. They’re finding that just doing something can transform their neighborhoods and their lives.

The Power of Just Doing Stuff, a book written by Rob Hopkins, co-founder of Transition Town, argues that this shift represents the seeds of a new economy – the answer to our desperate search for a new way forward – and at its heart is people deciding that change starts with them. Communities worldwide are already modeling a more local economy rooted in place, in well being, in entrepreneurship and in creativity. And it works.

According to the Permaculture Institute:  ” . . . Transition Towns try to maximize local, organic food production and exchange.   Transition Towns take steps to radically reduce energy consumption while moving to renewable sources. Rather than mindlessly embracing consumerism, participants in Transition Towns are stepping out of the rat race, re-imagining ‘the good life,’ and discovering that community engagement provides great wealth to those brave enough to get involved . . .”

It is liberating and empowering to actually start doing something by acting out the role as an example.   I know because that’s how I felt in June of 2013 when I dug up most of my front yard and replaced it with edible plants. 

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Here in the USA we often hear discussions regarding how we can be “more competitive.”  I personally don’t believe that is the right question to be asking and asking the wrong questions ultimately leads us down the wrong path.

In order for the USA to have a competitive labor market according to the standards set by multinational corporations in our oil-based economy, we would have to pay American workers $65 a week as they do today in a maquiladora in Juarez operated by Ottawa Leather Company (headquartered in Michigan).

We also would need to be OK with working conditions such as demonstrated by factories in Bangladesh.  That is the extent to which we would have to lower our standards in order to be competitive.  Will that day come in the USA?  I hope not.  I’m working my heart out to grow new local solutions to see that it does not.  Perhaps a better question for us to be asking is:  How can we become more collaborative?

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Yesterday, at the Garland Marketplace, Mayor Doug Athas stopped by to chat with members of Loving Garland Green at our booth.  We are fortunate to have a mayor who understands and cares about the power of place and the power of local.  We chatted briefly about some of the upcoming plans in the works for the city of Garland—very exciting stuff.  We may soon be having our own local commercial aquaponics farm.  We may soon see our downtown square transformed into a green and lovely people-friendly space.  The Mayor spoke of the possibility of having a large (huge) blackboard or white board somewhere on the square.  People would be invited to write messages on the board.  Here is a work project for some enterprising citizen:  If indeed we do put up such a space, a journalist could document the 365 days of the year with a photo of the message board (or perhaps weekly entries with a page of comments would suffice) to create a book.

“Reality” is ultimately designed by those who are daring enough to create it.  We all have that power and imagination and it looks like more of us are choosing to exercise it.

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By the way, if you haven’t yet, sign up for the Garland Neighborhood Summit.  It is to be held on Saturday October 25 at The Hyatt Place here in Garland.  The theme for 2014 is “Paths that Lead to Neighborhood Excellence."  Registration fee is $25, which is cheap when you consider that includes a great continental breakfast, lunch, the opportunity to participate in learning activities with your neighbors, and perhaps even the redirection of your life to a more rewarding path.  I attended the one last year and believe me; I’ll never miss another as long as I live in Garland.  Call the Garland Office of Neighborhood Vitality for more information:  972-205-2445.

Last year's keynote speaker, Peter Kageyama, author of Loving Your City, conducted a workshop to explore how people connect within their own community and how to improve and maximize that connection in order to lead more people toward being “in love” with their place. It was out of inspiration from that summit and Mr. Kageyama's presentation that Loving Garland Green was born.  According to him, the importance of loving our place is often overlooked by city planners when they are considering how to improve their community.  In fact, the word "love" is often not even in the vocabulary of their literature.  Yet we all know the importance of love.  The things and people we love are the things we focus on, cherish and take good care of.  Love needs to become part of the vocabulary for local if we hope to raise up our community.

 

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