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The Douglas Athas Garden Plot – Garland Community Garden – October 19, 2017

At our next meeting, members of Loving Garland Green will vote to permanently name this bed “The Douglas Athas Garden Plot”.  Currently it has two large blackberry bushes at either end. In between the blackberries this year we have perpetual spinach, a tomato plant, two okra plants and some newly germinated English peas.

Our Garland Community Garden is a big deal to many Garland residents—among them at least 171 Garland grade school children who have toured the Garland Community Garden over its three years of operation.  This number does not include all the other children who have visited the Garden with their parents for various events and sometimes just for an informal visit.  Nor does it include all other Garland student activities we’ve sponsored at the Garden for older youth groups such as the North Garland High School Key Club and now our second year of involvement with the North Garland High School Environmental Club. 

None of the good work of Loving Garland Green and none of the 600 pounds of produce that so far for the year of 2017 alone that we have donated to charity would have been possible without the support of Mayor Doug Athas. 

Without the strong, involved support and backing of Mayor Douglas Athas, there would be no Garland Community Garden today.  There would not have been a single seed planted or a bed installed—despite the fact that the place where the Garland Community Garden is located today has been a vacant unused space for over 50 years at 4022 Naaman School Road.

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Just how difficult was it to create a Garland Community Garden?  VERY!

From early 2010 to about March of 2013—for over two years I tried to engage the City Council and the mayor of Garland to work with citizens to create an Urban Agricultural Center in the downtown area and to allow citizens to have some area of city property that we could dedicate to a community garden.  At the time I made one presentation to the City council.  I talked to the Mayor on several occasions and met with him once during this time.  And absolutely nothing happened.  I contacted my City Council member Jim Cahill with no results.  He never even bothered to answer my queries. Finally after three years of trying and many emails with various plans, I gave up. 

In 2013 Mayor Athas was elected.  That June I dug up my front lawn and planted a garden.  I had fairly well given up on the politics of Garland by that time and was opting for the quiet life.  Then I read in June where a young woman in our District 8 was all excited because she had decided she was going to see that we got a community garden.  I followed the story of her journey that summer because I was very curious to see if she could succeed where I failed.  At that time Cahill was our City Councilman for District 8.  He and other Council members continued to give the young woman the runaround all summer and finally near the end of August she gave up her quest to establish a community garden.

Her defeat made me so angry that in September I sent a scathing email to Mayor Athas.  As I recall, in July of 2013 he had even attended a Mayor’s meeting in Vegas that was devoted to educating Mayors on the value of urban agriculture for improving local economies.  I’m sure I probably asked him if he had heard a word of what the folks were saying at that conference.  In less than 24 hours I got an email from Mayor Athas telling me that he would look into it.  Less than two weeks later he told us that our citizens group could use part of that space at 4022 Naaman School Road—where the Garland Community Garden is located today.  Now that's action folks!  That's responding to locals.

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Little Free Library - Garland Community Garden - October 19, 2017

Our Garland Community Garden has grown from one 28 square foot garden plot to over 4,000 square feet of planted garden plots growing edibles for people and pollinators—all because we had one Mayor who had faith in a few citizens’ abilities to make it happen. Above is the Little Free Library that's located in our Community Garden.

 

Guestbook for the Little Free Library located at the Garland Community Garden – October 19, 2017

Gardens bring people and organizations together as evidenced by the guest book for our Little Free Library—a joint project involving, Loving Garland Green, Flamingo Neighbors and the Garland Vital Neighborhoods department.   Urban agriculture helps to grow and stabilize local economies thus making communities more prosperous and secure. 

[Makerspaces also have a similar impact on local economies and that is why I will continue to promote the location of a makerspace within walking distance of downtown Garland.  Our residents, our downtown merchants and our local economy need a makerspace downtown—not stuck off in some industrial center miles away from down town.]

 

 

A page from the guestbook down at the Garland Community Garden – October 19, 2017 

If it weren’t for citizen groups like Flamingo Neighbors and Loving Garland Green, children and adults in Garland would have one less thing to be thankful for.  Many people are learning today that some of our best decisions come from collaborations and not top down management of communities.

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Thank you again, Mayor Doug, for trusting a group of Garland citizens to make a nice garden for our community.  I appreciate the faith you have in ordinary citizens' ability to participate in the important decisions that shape the quality of life in our community.

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Mayor Athas holding a tagged Monarch at the Garland Community Garden--a garden that never would have happened without his determined and diligent support - Labor Day Weekend 2017

AND Mayor Athas resigned:

Last night at the Garland City Council meeting Mayor Athas announced his intentions to resign as Mayor. Here is the statement he published last night on his Facebook page:

"I gave notice tonight that I will be resigning as Mayor in the near future. I have accomplished all my goals that I had when I ran for mayor. There are, of course, always new things to do and there are some things I must still do for Garland but it is my intention that the citizens have the opportunity to select a new mayor in May, 2018, the normal date for city elections.

I will not force a special election. Personal agendas have bloomed on the council to the point that the citizens and staff suffer from poor governance and I can't morally be a part of it. I have been very, very proud to serve the citizens and the city of Garland. We have come a long ways together, made a lot of progress, and we can always be proud of our city and our history."

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Unfortunately Even an Overwhelming Majority of Citizens of Garland Were Unable to Stop the Bulldozers Last Night. 

There is something rotten indeed in the leadership of a city government when they will not listen to a majority of citizens who appear before them to ask for the opportunity to present alternatives to the wanton demolition of buildings valued at $700,000.  It would appear the majority on the Garland City Council seem determined to demonstrate to the citizens of Garland that they are the deciders--not the people.  So much for grass roots in Garland, Texas. Grass roots is now scorched earth in our community.

Last night at the City Council meeting numerous citizens--at least 30-- got up and asked the City Council to put their plans on hold for demolishing the building at the old Garland Armory.  Another citizen got up and presented to Ms. Goebel a petition with 122 names on it from Ms. Goebel's district asking her to give citizens the opportunity to present sustainable alternatives to demolition. There were a handful of perhaps four who got up and supported demolition of those buildings, but the overwhelming majority of Garland citizens were appealing to the people who are supposed to represent them to wait until citizens had the opportunity to weigh in and present sustainable alternatives to demolition.  

In addition, according to their testimony it was verbally expressed by many citizens of Garland including the residents living nearby the proposed park where the demolition is to take place that the City Council had left the residents in the dark regarding plans that were made behind closed doors.  Many residents had no idea  plans were in place to demolish those buildings until a citizen's group knocked on their door asking them to sign a petition to stop the bulldozers.

It would seem to me that some some members acted in ways contrary to furthering their political aspirations, but time will tell that story in May of 2018 when we have elections for City Council and a new mayor in Garland.

Members of the Garland City Council Who Voted Against Even Listening to Citizen Presentations Supporting Sustainable Reuse of Existing Buildings

Here are the members of the Garland City Council who voted to not listen to presentations by citizens for adaptive reuse of buildings at the old Armory site in Garland:

David Gibbons District 1 - Up for re-election in May. Mr. Gibbons was elected with no opponents.  Can you really call that "elected"?

Anita Goebel District 2 - Ms. Goebel- even though 122 residents of her district signed a petition that was presented to Ms. Goebel at the City Council meeting last night [compared to 25 for demolition presented by Eric Stuyvesant (reportedly a fellow with ambitions to be mayor)]. This is her last term.  We can hope that someone who is more friendly to environment and saving taxpayer dollars will rise up to take her place.

BJ Williams District 4 - This is Mr. Williams last term and some say that he has ambitions to be Garland's next mayor.  Considering his lack of attention to voters on this issue, I will not be supporting him in those efforts.

Rich Aubin District 5 - Like Mr. Gibbons Mr. Aubin is also up for re-election in May.  And like Mr. Gibbons, Mr. Aubin too was a shoo-in to the City Council due to voter apathy.  Let's hope that he has some serious competition in May.

Robert Vera District 6 - Beyond the fact that he went along with the herd on the vote to demolish buildings prior to listening to various citizen groups present sustainable alternatives. About the only thing I know about Mr. Vera is that he was elected in May of 2017 and thus is not up for re-election in May.

Scott LeMay District 7 - This is Mr. LeMay's last term and Like Mr. Williams, he is rumored to have mayoral ambitions.

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Garland Mayoral Hopefuls?

Let's hope that what happened last night at City Hall in Garland Texas will be enough to get more voters out of their recliners in May of 2018 to participate in the Democratic process.

As far as I know there are currently only three people in Garland at the moment rumored to have Mayoral ambitions--all of whom stood up last night and said NO to sustainable practices in the City of Garland.  

Scott LeMay

BJ Williams

Eric Stuyvesant 

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A special thanks to Robert Smith and Jerry Nickerson--the only two council members who stood with our Mayor on the side of the majority of citizens at that Garland Council meeting last night.

 
LET'S MAKE SURE WE STAY FOCUSED ON THE REAL ISSUE HERE--Ignoring the Voices of the Majority as well as the guidelines checks and balances and protocols in place for transparent local government.
 
This is not about makerspaces.  This is about something far more serious--ignoring the voices of the people when they stood up and asked for the chance to prepare presentations for several proposed sustainable uses of a space hastily slated for demolition by the City Council--a dog shelter, an indoor batting facility for little leaguers,  a new kind of facility for Senior citizens, and a makerspace.  The City Council refused to even listen to the people they were elected to represent.  They had their own personal agendas to push forward and that was it. 
 
 
ADDENDUM COMMENT FROM READER:  (ADDED 2:27 PM 10/18/2017)
Liz, saw your blog post this morning, and it was right on. I did want to point out two small corrections in case you wish to edit. 
 
We presented 129 signatures by petition (229 would have made no difference), and as far as my count, only two people asked for the demolition to proceed: Eric Stuyvesant and the Parks Board woman. The two skateboard pros were from out of town, not citizens, and neither of them asked for the Armory to be razed or even said Central Park was a good location. They were brought in to paint a positive picture of skateboarding, which was fine. They were excellent advocates for the sport.
 
 
ADDENDUM ON SUSTAINABLE CITIES (Added at 9:36 AM 10/18/2017)

The retention, rehabilitation and reuse of older buildings can play a pivotal role in the sustainable development of a city.  Equally important, reuse and retention of older buildings can benefit the environment through the reduction in waste generation.  Members of a City government should be promoting environmental and economic sustainability—not trashing it.

Many cities conduct an economic review to compare the cost of demolition and rebuilding with the cost of retaining and reusing the buildings.  Also more often than not a targeted public conference on the sustainable reuse of the buildings is held that involves local authorities, developers and interested citizenry.

Here in Garland it would appear the City Council is our only self-appointed decider.  Aren’t we lucky? We don’t need to waste our time participating in local government as they can make all the decisions for us.  We only get to see the plans AFTER the City Council has decided to move forward on them.  This is their idea of sharing information with the public. Of course the voters can be allowed to make decisions regarding finishing touches--such as placement of shrubbery and the like--just not those bigger decisions that matter.  What a pathetic attempt to put lipstick on the pig to make it appear as if the public play any significant role in the major decisions made in our community.

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Educational opportunities are offered to Garland High School Students that are not offered to high school students anywhere else in the state of Texas and in most places in the USA at the Gilbreath Reed Career and Technical Center.

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This Garland ISD public facility offers more than 90 advanced-level CTE courses for high school juniors and seniors. Opportunities include:

  • new programs of study in dentistry and firefighting
  • a real-world stock market ticker for on-the-job training
  • the state's first cyber security courses
  • never before offered courses in veterinary medicine, architecture, business, fashion design and marketing, logistics, pharmacology, robotics and more

Those of us hoping to bring a makerspace with its educational opportunities for a collaborative educational environment to adult Garland residents and children are looking for alliances in our city to build a makerspace. It would appear that some in our City Council are bent on ignoring all considerations of consequences to taxpayers and are rushing ahead to demolish 38,000 square feet of classroom space (valued at a conservative taxpayer replacement estimate of $11 million). We are still hoping that other residents of Garland will come forth to support sustainable alternatives to the destruction of these buildings.

In our quest to seek answers as to how we might be able to work with educational institutions, businesses, and manufacturing groups who are more open to adult education and innovation in our community than many on our City council have thus far demonstrated themselves to be, we took a tour on October 10 of the Gilbreath Reed Career and Technical Center right here in Garland at 4885 N President George Bush Hwy, Garland, TX 75040. 

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Clinton Elsasser, Assistant Principal Gilbreath-Reed Career and Technical Center 

It was a fabulous tour of this wonderful facility—open now for just about seven weeks.  Clinton Elsasser, Assistant Principal, led the tour and he was as interesting and engaging as the facility.   Believe me, you needed a bushel of star-power to even stand beside the glittering enchantment of this educational facility.   

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Disclaimer 

The Gilbreath-Reed Career and Technical Center is a wonderful educational environment offering such a broad range of unique educational opportunities for students who are lucky enough to live in Garland ISD that I’m at a loss to even begin to try to write about them. Thus I’ll provide links to more detailed descriptions of this place and its wonderful opportunities for education for high school students. 

 http://www.garlandisd.net/sites/default/files/gisdfiles/programs/documents/g-rctc_courses_by_cluster.pdf

Please access that link as well as their website for a more complete picture than I might offer from my own personal viewpoint of this tour.  http://www.garlandisd.net/content/gilbreath-reed-career-and-technical-center

What follows are only my impressions and memories of aspects of this hour-long tour on October 10 and I doubt my impressions can even begin to touch on the huge scope and implications for education offered by this educational institution.  

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 Educational Principles And Facilities Layout of the Gilbreath-Reed Center Mirror those of a Makerspace

Throughout the tour I couldn’t help but draw parallels between the educational principles followed as explained by Clint along with the layout and division of classroom space with those same principles and designs of a makerspace. So many of the features of this new 21st century educational institution are reflective of the typical makerspace environment and educational values—particularly the way it emphasizes the important role of collaboration and its close relationship to resulting innovation.

According to Clint, the high school students at the Gilbreath-Reed Career and Technical Center are not allowed to isolate.  Thus throughout the building you will see various spaces marked as areas for collaboration.  These areas are often nooks and crannies by stairwells and the like—areas that in many architectural designs are considered “wasted space.”  At the Gilbreath-Reed Career Center these spaces are identified with Collaboration signs.  In addition to comfy seating space, these areas also include large white boards.  I’m sure that Steve Jobs is smiling down on the Gilbreath-Reed Career Center.

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Alex Rhodes, Dallas Makerspace

Innovative Possibility Arises on Our Tour

Just proving the point of what a stimulating educational environment we have in this wonderful educational facility, Alex Rhodes (a member of the Dallas Makerspace) in response to a comment made by Clint suggested that a bus the Dallas Makerspace owns be converted by the students at the Gilbreath-Reed Center into a portable Makerspace Center that we can bring to the community.  I’ll be sure to follow up on the development of this inspiration.

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Other Spaces at the Gilbreath-Reed Center: 

The place is simply beautiful, spacious and inspiring.  Truly you should see for yourself to fully appreciate it.  This educational facility is available for use by any high school students living in the Garland ISD and thus makes a very good case for choosing Garland if you have school age children.  This public Garland ISD facility has a capacity for approximately 3,200 students and currently in its first year is at about 50%--that won’t last once parents fully grasp what is being offered here.  If you are moving to the area and have high school students in your family, better visit the Gilbreath-Reed Center before making your decision.

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Sampling of Various Labs at the Gilbreath-Reed Center  

A place where students have a home set up that they can learn how to wire for electricity

 

A lab where students can learn all about animals and have hands-on experience suturing wounds

 

A lab where students can practice filling prescriptions and talking with customers--the drugs the students handle are all simulated and not actual drug products.

 

A lab where students can learn dressmaking skills 

 

A lab that opens with electronic ticker tape running real time with only a 15 minute delay from the Wall Street bell - a lab with screen displays that allow students to compare their selections with those of other students.

As mentioned in the disclaimer:  For the full listing of all the opportunities available to students at this facility:  http://www.garlandisd.net/sites/default/files/gisdfiles/programs/documents/g-rctc_courses_by_cluster.pdf

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I was really pleased with this facility. As our Mayor Athas pointed out, this facility reaches out to so many students who might not otherwise have the opportunity for such excellent training.  Some of the skills that students learn at this facility will put them in jobs that immediately pay them a living wage and better – right out of high school.  We have many colleges today that can’t even do that.

However, although perhaps planned for the future, this facility does not currently offer courses geared for adult education and maker education for children ages K -10.

Our group will continue to seek to establish such an educational space to meet this need in our community.

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Burgi Bartlett, Loving Garland Green Board member looks over the several hundred seeds that she has laid out in rows prior to covering with soil- Garland Community Garden September 30, 2017

Although the list is pared down considerably from spring, there are still plenty of edibles that can be planted in the DFW area. Thus yesterday at our month-end clean sweep at the Garland Community Garden we planted 100 turnip seeds, 50 beet seeds, 100 radish seeds, and 100 carrot seeds.

Keep in mind that November 22 is the average first frost in our DFW area and figure back from there according to the number of days to maturity that is usually found on the back of the seed packet.  Also in addition to the edibles listed below, you might consider sowing a few milkweed seeds in your flower beds shortly before the first frost.  Milkweed and many of our wildflowers do best when planted in the fall as their seeds need to be cold-stratified over the winter.

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Seed Plantings for Eatables and Latest Suggested Planting Date

Beets   - September 30
Garlic - October 18
Chinese cabbage - October 1
Kale - October 15
Onions - October 15
Leeks - November 1
Lettuce - October 15
English peas - November 1
Parsley - October 4
Shallots - October 15
Spinach - November 1
Turnip - November 1
Radish - November 15
Rutabaga - October 15

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Preparing the Soil

Soil preparation prior to planting anything is an important step in our area with its heavy clay soil; however, it is especially important when planting a root crop such as turnips, beets, carrots and radishes.  You can purchase expanded shale at just about any nursery or garden store in our area.  The average price is about $20 for a 40- pound bag.  This is a one-time requirement.  You won’t need to replenish the expanded shale at subsequent plantings. The shale aerates the soil by creating air pockets that make room for roots to breathe and grow.  How much expanded shale?  I recommend putting about a three-inch deep layer over the area to be planted and then working it in to a depth of about a foot.

Prepare the Seeds

I’ve had greater success with seed planting if I follow a process that Carol Garrison, Master Naturalist, and friend taught me a couple of years ago.  I’ve modified the process somewhat in that I do a large number of seeds at a time and I allow them to sit for 24 to 48 hours in the wet paper prior to planting.

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MATERIALS

Long plastic or glass container with a lid (9/12 inch glass containers for lasagna)

Roll of unscented toilet paper

Scissors

Parchment paper

Seeds

Water

Washcloth

Tweezers

Small bowls for seeds

 

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Cut 1-inch wide strips of toilet paper the length of the container.  (You will need to cut 8 or nine strips)

2. Place them in the bottom of your container.

3. Wet the washcloth and drizzle water over the strips of toilet paper—try not to totally soak but get them wet.

4. Using tweezers pick up the seeds on at a time from the bowls and place on the wet strips of toilet paper.  Space them according to instructions on seed packet.

5.  Cut enough strips of toilet paper the same length as previously cut and lay on top of the wet strips.

NOTE:  Gently press the two strips together to meld them.

6. Cut a piece of parchment paper large enough to cover all the strips

Repeat steps 1-6 until you have prepared all the seed you want to plant.

7.  Cover the container and let sit in a warm (not hot) place for 24 to 48 hours.  I don’t recommend leaving longer as they might mold.  Some of the seeds such as radishes will already have begun to sprout and all the seeds will be swollen somewhat. 

 

FOR PLANTING
Gently lift the seeds, toilet paper strip at a time from the container and place on top of the soil. You can see what this looks like in the photo above.  Cover according to recommended depth with potting soil and gently pat the soil.

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English Peas

This year, for the first time in my life I’m going to try to grow English peas.  I like to eat them and in reflecting on my long life, I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a fresh English pea—only canned and frozen.  I find it very surprising that English peas can be planted up to November 1 in our area as I've always thought of them as being rather fragile plants.  However, I am planting them in the Garland Community Garden sometime this week—depends upon when I can get my hands on some seeds.

I’ll keep you posted on how well they grow.

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NOTE:  This information concerns dates for planting seeds in the DFW area.  Of course if you can still find them, you can put transplants of cold hearty edibles such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower to name a few.  Yesterday I visited nurseries in an near Garland.  I can report that when it comes to winter vegetable transplants, the pickings are slim indeed.  I did manage to score a few kale plants, however.