Yesterday while working on Lebanon St I noticed that vegetables, fruit, and flowers are not the only things that grow over the course of the season, but that the youth do as well. When I say grow I’m not talking about the summer growth spurts that most 13 year old kids go through, but rather the intellectual growth that comes with learning how to work with the land as well as the conversation that is partaken in while working (sometimes we get carried away and Ippy has to remind us to “Work and talk, guys!”). I’ll give you a quick example. Yesterday, one of the youth, David, and I were talking about stereotypes, the truth that they posses, the damage that they do, and what they mean. By the end of our conversation it wasn’t just David and I speaking, but instead probably 6 more youth and Ruby. Not everyone saw eye to eye at the end and David shook my hand before leaving the garden thanking me for partaking in the “debate.” I quickly reminded him that it wasn’t a debate, but instead a conversation. To me yesterday proved to be one of the most productive days. Not only because we spread a lot of compost and planted lots of tomatoes, basil, and much more, but because these kids engaged in a meaningful conversation that caused them to question and to think about the norms that so often rule our lives; especailly in an urban enviroment. Over the course of the summer I hope more of these conversations will spring up like the weeds that often plauge our gardens because I feel as though these conversations are what motivate kids to form their own ideas and feelings on issues which in return may inspire them to do something great.
In the end, we at GtC don’t just introduce and foster principles of sustainable living, but we also introduce and foster a safe enviroment for ideas and discussion of them.