Category Archives: Power to the People

Unify Summit!

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A year or so ago I thoroughly enjoyed Nathan Crane’s documentary series The Search for Sustainability”. (Check out the trailer on the link!) I found myself excited to see so many groundbreaking ideas and practices—I learned a lot and was introduced to many kindred spirits, those who want to work to make positive change in this world. Because of that introduction to the Panacea Community, I am thrilled to share information about another series that’s beginning this week, the Unify Summit! This summit is about: “Inspiring and practical wisdom for living with more abundance, meaning, love, health, and unity with advice from more than 12 world-renowned teachers.”

Mark your calendars and join me – starts Wednesday!

Attend the Unify Summit online for FREE.

April 19-26, 2017

 

—Sandra Knauf

 

 

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Filed under Garden Writers We Love, Power to the People

The Green Wasteland

canstockphoto1881083 (3)vintage lawnmowers

Image from CanStockPhoto.

My sister and I ended many summer afternoons in the 1970s green from the knees of our jeans down, sweaty, and reeking of gas and exhaust. As servants of the Great American Lawn, we regularly mowed ours, the elderly Miss Howard’s next door, our grandma’s, and once in a while, our great Aunt Flora’s.

It was work that was necessary, and our lawn in particular was well used—the six kids in our family played games of tag, pitch and catch, badminton, and we used the space, as teenagers, for sunbathing. Dad saw physical labor as the best character-builder, so he “volunteered” us to maintain it. We received $5 a lawn, to share.

I didn’t mind the work, but Missouri summers were hot and humid, and occasionally at Miss Howard’s I ran over a toad (a horrifying thing).

I learned more about turf at age 20, verifying sales for a lawn-care company in Colorado Springs. I telephoned clients, confirming that they had joined our fertilizer/weed killer program, with insecticide and/or fungicide treatments as needed. With our help, their lawns would be the envy of the neighborhood!

During our one-day training, we learned to instruct clients with pets to remove dog and cat bowls before spraying, as there had been pet deaths from tainted water. We also cautioned them to keep pets and people off the grass until the applications dried. It sickened me to realize that the men who drove the trucks and sprayed these toxins daily would inhale them, get them on their clothing, their skin, and bring these toxins home. I wondered why people would pay good money for lawns you wouldn’t want a baby crawling on.

A decade later, as a college grad, mom, and hobby gardener, I had my own lawn—or, rather, weed/native grass lot. Seduced by the American ideal, we installed sod in our backyard. For a while, it looked gorgeous; but without pampering, chemicals, or a sprinkler system, it deteriorated fast. In Colorado, as in most parts of our country, lawns require not only constant maintenance but constant life support.

A few years later when I became a master gardener, I determined to get rid of our lawn. Bit by bit, with a tiny budget and lots of elbow grease, I created a garden instead—with fruit trees, herbs, flowers, native plants, sandstone paths, even a goldfish pond. I kept patches of grass/weeds for our dogs (and the occasional badminton game for the kids) and maintained it with a reel mower, enjoying a good workout in the process. Our established xeric garden requires less maintenance than a lawn. Except for the vegetable garden, I water once a week, deeply, and I do not water the grass/weeds at all.

I realize that turf is a multibillion-dollar U.S. industry and many are wedded to the old ways. Lawns, those pretty green carpets, do have an aesthetic charm, and they are good for sports. But they don’t support butterflies, honeybees, birds, or other wildlife, and caring for one is the antithesis of green. Five percent of all our nation’s air pollution comes from gas-powered lawn mowers. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, one gas-powered mower, used for one hour, emits as much pollution as eight new cars driven at 55 mph for the same time.

According to the EPA, Americans burn 800 million gallons of fuel each year trimming their lawns. Of this, 17 million gallons of fuel, mostly gasoline, are spilled each year while refueling lawn equipment. This is more than the oil spilled by the Exxon Valdez. Fertilizer pollution is a huge problem, and lawns require significant water, yet another burden on our limited resources.

In addition, nearly 80 million pounds of pesticide active ingredients are used on U.S. lawns annually. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported that “homeowners use up to 10 times more chemical pesticides per acre on their lawns than farmers use on crops.”

It’s past time to see traditional lawns for what they have become: antiquated, wasteful, and harmful. I propose that we return to our roots—cottage gardens. Gardens assist nature on a meaningful scale, and they are excellent outdoor classrooms/playgrounds for children and adults. My children had more fun in our back yard than I ever did in the 1970s as they had chickens, and flowers, and a pond—and lots of places to let their imagination run wild. Our home landscapes can also provide us with locally-grown food. You cannot grow luscious plums, pull up sweet carrots, snip chives for your potatoes (and grow potatoes, too), pick wildflower bouquets, or provide bird sanctuary or forage for honeybees with a grass lawn.

As the industrialized world races toward green living, homeowners everywhere can make a difference. It’s easy—take up your shovel and start getting rid of your lawn.

References:
People Powered Machines (much of their information comes from the EPA),
http://www.peoplepoweredmachines.com/faq-environment.htm

Environment and Human Health, Inc.,
http://www.ehhi.org/reports/lcpesticides/summary.shtml

CSU Extension Service,
http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/consumer/09952.html

Note from the author: This essay originally appeared in The Denver Post in 2009. I think it’s also one of the most important essays I’ve ever written, especially in light of the honeybee collapse that we now know is caused in great part by the use of insecticides and other toxins. The year I wrote this, turf was a billion dollar a year cash crop in Colorado. But the recession had just begun, and the numbers have changed as the lawn industry was impacted and continues to be. Times have changed (back then we did not imagine that marijuana would become our #4 cash crop in five years!), but lawns are still the norm for the home landscape. Fifty percent of all water used by homeowners in Colorado is used outdoors.

When I went to check the numbers last year, when this piece appeared in US Represented, I found few updates, but a new report on the EPA site showed, in alarming detail, the health impact on humans of not only lawn mowers, but all lawn and garden equipment. It is titled “National Lawn and Garden Equipment Emissions” and was written by Jamie Banks, PhD, MS, of Quiet Communities, Inc. and Robert McConnell of the U.S. EPA, Region 1. Here’s the link for this must-read.

—Sandra Knauf

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Seed Library Update

Isn't it cool how seed packets fit perfectly in the old card catalogues? (Photo by David Woolley)

Old card catalog file turned into new seed library! Brilliant! (Photo by David Woolley)

 

About two and a half years ago I wrote a post on our first local seed library. It was installed at the public library in Manitou Springs, Colorado by David Woolley and Natalie Seals.

Here’s the replay on what a seed library is, if you haven’t been to one yet:

“. . . it’s a place where you can check out packets of seeds–flowers, vegetables, and herbs—to plant. In return you’re asked to donate seeds from your future harvest; usually twice as many seeds as you checked out. To some, having to harvest seeds may sound intimidating, but it really isn’t difficult. Many seeds, such as tomatoes, peppers, beans, radishes, and quite a few species of flowers, are easy to save . . . and one tomato or sunflower can produce enough seeds for many return seed packets. (If you’re still unsure, there is a lot of information online and in books on seed saving.)

What is exciting is that people begin saving and sharing their locally grown (and hopefully organically grown) seeds. It makes for stronger genetic stock that is adapted to local growing conditions. It helps people who can’t afford seeds to grow gardens, and it creates diversity, because if the library is successful many, many people will participate and share. Probably the most exciting aspect is that we can reclaim the power of owning our own seed stock and won’t have to re-purchase seed every year or be dependent on outside companies. There are myriad other benefits, but these are the ones that come to mind first. Viva la backyard farmer!”

Now for the update:

For the last three growing seasons I’ve enjoyed this library. I’ve “checked out” seeds, grew them in my garden, and returned seeds from my own harvests.  I’ve made it a point to return at least triple what I took each year. This year I brought in almost 40 packets of seeds from heirloom tomatoes, snapdragons, calendula, lettuce, hollyhock, Italian flat-leaf parsley, garlic chives, and more. Everything I bring back is organically grown and local, and that makes me feel great about being a part of this.

How’s the library doing? Well, I haven’t been able to have an in-depth talk with Director David Woolley, though I did speak with him briefly after a very well-attended talk on backyard gardening a couple of weeks ago. Woolley said the seed library was doing very well. There were many people coming in and getting seed packets. They were excited to be gardening. “Were there any problems?” I asked. Yes, he said, they are struggling a bit with getting in enough donations. There are too many who take out seeds and don’t bring back donations.

I told him I’d be happy to help, to send a few emails out to seed companies and ask them for donations. He said it was a little more complicated than that with the big seed companies, as you have to fill out paperwork, and show that the seed is going to a nonprofit. (Always, the bureaucracy!) I haven’t been able to connect with him yet to move further on this, but I wanted to get this post out today, to ask readers if perhaps they had connections with any seed companies (or perhaps seed from last year that won’t be used, or home-grown seed) for donations.  I imagine there are a lot of backyard farmers who would love to share.

A gentle reminder to those who might have forgotten to repay this service with a donation—free seed libraries will only work if we all pitch in. I know it can be intimidating, saving seed for the first time, putting them in packets and labeling them, but trust me, it’s easy! And once you do it, it becomes pretty fun.

If you haven’t yet, I hope you’ll come and check out the library. You don’t have to live in Manitou Springs as it’s open to the entire region. You don’t even have to have a library or an I.D.! How cool is that?

Check out their website for full details. There’s a wonderful FAQ written by Natalie Seals that details the process.

See you at the library!

—Sandra Knauf

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Alex Wrekk (Author, Entrepreneur, Gardener, Singer) & Her Stolen Sharpie Revolution

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Alex Wrekk - Writing Revoluntionary

Alex Wrekk – Writing Revoluntionary

 

Today I’m hosting an interview with Alex Wrekk, author of Stolen Sharpie Revolution, a D.I.Y. book on zine making. (If you don’t know what a zine is, it’s a handmade, self-published magazine.) Zines are important to me as they were my first independent foray into self-publishing. I published Greenwoman zine for a couple of years before tackling a more traditional magazine form, and it was the perfect way to test the waters. It was also empowering and thrilling to produce something “real”—a publication that I could hold in my hands, holding stories written over the years that hadn’t found a home in traditional publishing. I first heard about zines through Ariel Gore’s book, How to Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead (great title, don’t you think?). In essence she told writers, “Just get your work out there, make a zine!” I didn’t know what zines were, so I researched, read many of them, and learned about their history. I am still  fascinated with this personal, authentic art form.

Wrekk’s book was one of the first I sought out to help me with the nuts and bolts, so it’s a pleasure to have her on this blog. In my research, I learned Alex is an avid gardener in Portland, so of course I had to ask her about that, too. I hope you enjoy the interview!

—Sandra Knauf

Book Synopsis

Since 2002, Stolen Sharpie Revolution: a DIY Resource for Zines and Zine Culture has been the go-to guide for all things zine-related. This little red book is stuffed with information about zines. Things you may know, stuff you don’t know and even stuff you didn’t know you didn’t know!

Stolen Sharpie Revolution contains a cornucopia of information about zines and zine culture for everyone from the zine newbie to the experienced zinester to the academic researcher. Stolen Sharpie Revolution consists of thoughtful lists and step-by-step how-to guides on everything from definitions of a “zine,” where to find zines, why they are important, how to make them and how to participate in zine culture.

This book has everything you need to get started creating your own zine, or to figure out what to do with the zine you just made. Stolen Sharpie Revolution serves as both an introduction into the wide world of zine culture and as a guide to taking the next step to become a part of it.

* * *

Flora’s Forum Interview

First off, Alex, congratulations on your latest edition of Stolen Sharpie Revolution: A DIY Zine Resource. I am so impressed with the success of this book—26,000 copies, and on it’s 5th printing—it’s a huge success! I was thinking about how many writers and artists you’ve helped through the years, taking that first step in expressing themselves through zines. That has to be incredibly gratifying.

Now, on to the questions!

Flora’s Forum: As you’re a veteran in the self-publishing industry (zinesters were self-publishing way before Amazon and other companies made it easy for the mainstream) I guess I’d like to start with—what are the big changes you’ve seen in around 20 years of self-publishing zines and books?

Alex Wrekk: In general; technology. Digital layout is more accessible, photocopiers print crisper, and the internet has changed the way zine creators and reader can interact with each other. There was this whole “blogs killed zines” thing that people kept saying and it really bothered me for awhile. Blogs and zines aren’t mutually exclusive. If anything, I think blogs have made zines better. The people who wanted the quick outlet to say something could use a blog. Those that wanted to sit down and craft something physical could make a zine. If you really want to make a zine you have to spend time to do it from the writing, layout, getting yourself to a photocopier, and finding people to actually read it.

I’ve also seen a growing connected zine community. It is easier to find distros and new zines. There are also a lot more zine fest and it is easier to find out about them. [Ed.—I highly recommend Sweet Candy Distro as a great place to buy zines.]

Flora’s Forum: Making a zine is a very tactile experience. It’s a craft and an art. Even if you design and print out a zine on your computer, you still have to put them together with folding and stapling. If you’re artistically inclined, you go a lot further, with collages, drawings, and other artwork, special bindings. Can you talk a little about how this experience differs from, say, sharing your art and/or writing on a blog?

Alex Wrekk: I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I just see them a different medium or vehicles to convey ideas. I can’t exactly explain how I come to the conclusion that something is meant for a zine page or for a blog page, it just seems like the idea is already settled when it comes to me. I know that when I write something for a zine I think if it like a letter where I’m sending it to a person and that person is going to hold it in their hand and read it by themselves in their own space. It creates a direct line from creator and consumer, often that line is blurred because the reader is also frequently a writer of zines as well. Who knows how many people could be reading a blog at the same time and if they will ever even touch the same handrail I have touched? I just love the tangibility of zines. Sometimes I even see layouts before I have the words for zines.

Flora’s Forum: How has putting out over two dozen issues of your own zine, Brainscan, through the years formed you as an artist and entrepreneur?

Alex Wrekk: I actually put out issue 31 of Brainscan last year and I’ve done dozens of one off zines. I can’t stop making zines! I think the DIY spirit leads me to do things myself. If you keep doing that, you’ll find your style and hone your version of the craft. I have a weird mental distinction between my zines and my book. My zines are my hobby, my book is my business. Strangely, the same sort of things goes for my shop. I’ve made custom buttons since 2000 but I opened a brick and mortar shop 3 years ago where I press buttons like a workshop, sell my own button designs, and I also sell zines and books. You can’t make a lot selling zines and I sort of think of that part of the store as my hobby and the buttons as the business.

Flora’s Forum: What are the best things about zines? For yourself? For readers?

Alex Wrekk: Getting a glimpse of someone’s world and then, when you keep reading new issues of their zine, you get to revisit that world. That’s why I like to read zines, I’m not so sure about everyone else.

I also love the connections I have made through zines. I was hanging out the other night with some friends and one of their friends who I had never met before asked how we knew each other. My friend and I looked at each other and at the same time said “zines” These were people that had just moved to Portland 6 months ago but I had known the, through zines for years. Through zines I’ve let strangers stay in my basement and they have become some of my best friends. I started a band (with songs all about zines) with members from 3 different countries. I’ve been flown to France to be on a panel to discuss zines. I got a free ticket to Coachella because I helped with a zine workshop at the festival. I’ve been on cross country zine tours, one of them was with 5 friends from the UK. I’ve met some of the most amazing and intereesting people through zines. It almost feels like zines have been the backdoor into a lot of really cool experiences for me and for others.

Flora’s Forum: Are there any drawbacks/pitfalls to zine publishing?

Alex Wrekk: We all cringe at our early issues. Also, it’s not really something that will ever make you much money if you keep to zines. I’m ok with that. I see it as a hobby for me.

Flora’s Forum: Will you tell us about your garden? I read about it and enjoyed the Facebook album of your beautiful cottage-style garden. You have ornamentals, herbs, vegetables, a hummingbird garden, a compost pile—it’s obvious you have a lot of passion for many aspects of gardening. What do you have planned for the upcoming year? And how are the arts of gardening and zine publishing alike?

Alex Wrekk: I feel really bad because after opening the shop I haven’t has as much time to spend in my garden. When I worked at home I’d just let myself get distracted for a bit of gardening when I had a few minutes. This year I plan to do better, I’ve already been looking at seed catalogs and I have a friend who wants to help out. This year is a year of judicious pruning. I have a wisteria that is trying to eat my house and cedar tree and needs to be taught a lesson. There is a shrub that seemed to grow a few feet while I wasn’t looking that could use a lesson as well. Once spring comes around I’m going to take stock of the hummingbird garden and see what made it through the winter and figure out what needs to be moved or added. There’s a honeysuckle that has gone a bit wild over there as well. I think a lot of my garden need some firmer borders. We’ve been talking about taking out our chain-link fence and putting in a wooden one.

Hrm, I suppose gardening is a lot like writing. You just look at all your beautiful words/flowers and think you want them all, but that foxglove really would be happier at the back of the house and sometimes there is such a thing as too many daisies. Sometimes as beautiful as wisteria is, less would be more.

Flora’s Forum: Are there any gardening zines out there you could recommend?

Alex Wrekk: Off the top of my head I can only think of one that I have in the Portland Button Works shop called Growing Things that is good, especially for beginning gardeners.

Flora’s Forum: Thanks for sharing, Alex. It was a pleasure.

* * *

Alex Wrekk’s Bio

Alex Wrekk’s life revolves around making things; primarily zines, custom pinback buttons(badges), vegan food, travel plans, and space for a cat in her bed.

Alex Wrekk has lived in Portland, Oregon since 1999 and has been creating the zine Brainscan since 1997. Brainscan zine has grown and changed with Alex over the years with stories ranging from travel, reproductive health, love and loss, emotional abuse recovery, zine culture, and even fiction all wrapped up in text and photocopier art. She also wrote the book Stolen Sharpie Revolution: A DIY Guide for Zines and Zine Culture that is now entering its 5th edition.

When Alex isn’t doing zine things she is doing other zine things like organizing the Portland Zine Symposium, establishing July as International Zine Month, commiserating with Zine Event Organizers around the world, updating the zine event listings on StolenSharpieRevolution.org, hosting the podcast Nobody Cares About Your Stupid Zine Podcast, fidgeting with her Risograph printer, reading from her zines out loud on zine tours or singing in a zine themed pop-punk band called The Copy Scams.

Alex has been making custom pinback buttons since 2000 under various business names. In 2012 Alex opened Portland Button Works and zine distro, an online and brick and mortar shop in Portland, Oregon selling zines and books and making custom buttons, bottle openers, and magnets in 4 different sizes. She also maintains an Etsy shop with the same name.

Alex Wrekk twitter http://twitter.com/alexwrekk

Stolen Sharpie Revolution Facebook https://www.facebook.com/stolensharpierevolution

Stolen Sharpie Revolution.org http://www.stolensharpierevolution.org

Portland Button Works Website www.portlandbuttonworks.com

 

GIVEAWAY INFO:

Alex is giving away 5 print copies of Stolen Sharpie Revolution + a Custom Stolen Sharpie with each one. This is an international giveaway! Please click the link below to enter.

Stolen Sharpie Book Sage Blog Tours

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

P. S.:  I couldn’t resist showing a couple of covers  from my Greenwoman zines. I went from full-color to a more traditonal, much less expensive b&w cover over the course of the two years that I was a zinester. It was a great learning experience and a whole lot of fun.

 

The artwork for my very first zine! You can still get a copy of it on my Greenwoman Magazine website.

The artwork for my very first zine! You can still get a copy of it on my Greenwoman website.

The last issue, #6. I would highly recommend zine-

The last issue, #6. I love this fairy girl with her basket of figs.

P. P. S. I just discovered that Comments was “off” on this post. I fixed that but it looks like it won’t change it for previously posted work. Sorry about that!

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Filed under DIY, Power to the People

The Year of Soil – Dr. Vandana Shiva’s New Year Message for 2015

I was so happy to see this message a week ago. It is full of hope, it is full of empowerment. It is the perfect message for 2015.  Some of you may know of Dr. Shiva’s work—for decades, she has been fighting tirelessly for a healthier planet, healthier food, justice. She champions biodiversity and battles corporations who wish to claim ownership of the Earth’s plants and humanity’s many thousands of years of agricultural knowledge (seeds!) for themselves. She helps to expose genetic engineering as one of the biggest dangers we face.

May this year be, as she writes: “The year where the seeds we sow of hope and love, the seeds we sow of abundance and creativity, are the seeds that will multiply and show the way forward . . .”

—Sandra

 

 

The Transcript:

We Are All Seeds – A New Year Message from Dr. Vandana Shiva

Dear Friends, I want to thank you for everything each of you has done throughout this year that has gone by. A year where we rolled back seed laws that would have made it illegal for gardeners and farmers to have access to their own varieties of seeds – in Europe, in Colombia. A year where we celebrated in Indonesia the overruling of the arrest of farmers for saving seeds. It’s been a year where the GMO industry got so desperate that they had to start putting ads …using our language; which shows that what we are saying about the joy of growing food, the joy of eating food: THAT’s what the future is all about. And we know that the corporations, that have produced chemicals and GMOs, cannot deliver that promise, even though they might create their ads.

Most importantly this was the year when everywhere in the world a phrase rang in resonance, that: “We Are All Seeds”; that for a while we might lie underground, but at the right moment we germinate and burst out with all of our potential.

I want to greet you for the year that’s coming; A year that has been declared the Year of Soils, the year of our own earthiness, our own groundedness, our own rootedness. The year where the seeds we sow of hope and love, the seeds we sow of abundance and creativity, are the seeds that will multiply and show the way forward, not just to each of us, but to the reluctant world that continues to be blind.
And in the year of soil let us celebrate the connections between Mother Earth and ourselves. We are, after all, made of the earth – we are made of soil. Let us celebrate the 22nd of April, which is now Mother Earth’s Day, as a commitment to protect her.

As the famous writer Alice Walker said: “We now need to adopt the philosophy of Motherism,” where all of us became mothers to our Mother Earth, protecting her with love; and the SEED is where that love begins: the seed that she gives us and we give back to her, the soil fertility that she creates, and we return to her.

In the seed and the soil we find answers to every one of the crisis we face, the crisis of violence and war, the crisis of hunger and disease, the crisis of the destruction of democracy.

We will not allow corporations to allow everyone to believe that they are ‘persons’. Corporations are legal constructions, that’s where their place is. People, through democratic process, give permission to what business activity is sustainable, what business activity is equitable, what business activity respects with dignity the life of this planet, the life of all beings and the life of all human beings.

When corporations start to sue states like Vermont or the county of Maui, because Maui said: ‘We will be GMO free and Vermont said: ‘ We will know what we eat’, and they use that argument of corporate person-hood…that is illusions reaching the highest pinnacle.

We are going to create a reality where REALITY rules, the reality of the ecological living processes of the planet, the reality of our own lives, the reality of Democracy that we shape.

This challenge of democracy is going to be the single biggest challenge throughout 2015. Let us stay united, let us stay strong, let us stay joyful. Most importantly – since it’s the Year of Soil – let us recognize that in organic farming, in ecological agriculture is the answer to the havoc that has been created by fossil fuels.

As I have written ‘Soil not Oil’: “In the soil are the answers to the problem that oil has created”. The joint crisis of climate change and biodiversity erosion can both be addressed by creating gardens everywhere, full of biodiversity, full of the celebration of life in well-being and abundance.

Gardens of Hope everywhere, farms that give real food. We will continue to create the other world that we are sowing, seed by seed, inch by inch of soil, person by person, community by community until the whole of this planet is embraced in one circle of a resurgent life and resurgent love.

We will not give up.

 

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How is Gardening Like . . . Voting?

hyacinth bulb 123rf

 

Today I “dug out” an older essay (from 2006!)—because it fits for all election seasons. This year my garden was not challenged by drought, but in each year (and each election season) we have unique challenges and decisions.  Here’s hoping that we sort through them, educate ourselves, and do what is best.

—Sandra Knauf

 

Born Again

Though an avid gardener for the last decade, this year, this drier-than-dust spring, I replaced my perennial optimism with a screw-it attitude. “I’m not pouring water on the landscape this year,” I vowed. “I just won’t do it.” I wouldn’t plant thirsty heirloom tomatoes, wouldn’t go nuts with exotic annual beauties that died with the frost. I wouldn’t plant new shrubs and worry over their establishment. This year my resources—time, money, and precious water—would not be wasted. Feeding my soul with green beauty seemed foolish anyway. If Colorado Springs was going desert, if we’d soon be up to our asses in cactus, why fight it?

I had to admit the bad attitude came partly from the political climate. Colorado’s drought-baked earth seemed to mirror our country’s hardened heart; why should I continue to worry, and to care? Why should I bother with cultivating, or voting?

I watched grass, weeds and less-loved plants struggle, crinkle, and turn brown. And I let them. Silently I judged the neighbors naive, keeping theirs on life support. Didn’t they know it wasn’t worth it? June eclipsed May. More dry sleep, sepia death. I watered only once a week, a front garden that contained special darlings I could not bear to let suffer.

Then it rained. And rained. I saw plants with stamina flourish, and new ones born. In mid-July we returned from vacation to grass tall enough to mow. A crop of healthy weeds everywhere, but more than that. Tomato plants sprung from seeds, squash too, all robust. While they would not grow to maturity, they testified life went on—without my blessing. I found dill and parsley to clip for summertime meals, marigolds, calendula, sweet bronze fennel babies, Hopi red dye plants. I discovered that honeybees had made a hive out back, in an old iron stove.

One day, I saw that an elderly neighbor had placed bricks around a lone corn plant growing in his front yard. He sat in an aluminum lawn chair next to it.

“Nice corn you have there,” I said.

He chuckled, looked up at me from under his sun hat. “You know, the squirrels, they plant these kernels around, and then they just forget about them.”

I gestured at a single, silk-tasseled swelling. “Looks like you’re getting an ear.”

“We’ll see what happens.” He smiled contentedly and settled back into his front row seat.

I had learned my lesson. Gardeners aren’t quitters. By the end of September, my own drought had been replaced by that pesky optimism.

I would believe again, in my garden, and in my country. This fall, I would vote, and I would buy bulbs. Tulips, daffodils, lilies, hyacinths, and more, secret treasures in plain brown wrappers. Years ago I learned that if you cut a tulip bulb in half, you can see it all—tightly packed embryonic leaves, minuscule stem and flower. All there in pale perfection, waiting for the right time to grow.

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Hooray for Emma Watson!

There are times when it’s necessary to go “off topic” to something far more important than gardening, or books, or any of the other dozens of things I’ve posted about.

Because “If not me, who? If not now, when?”

I hope you will watch this powerful speech, presented to the UN by Emma Watson on September 20th, and share it with the world.

With love and equality for all,

Sandra

P. S. Here’s a link to the text of the speech.

P. P. S. Tell your men about the movement and send them here to join!

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