It literally feels like it was last week that we were on Lebanon St. and the youth were hassling me to dance the jerk instead of pulling up the hay. But, the frost came, the market ended, the youth are back in school, and so am I. Now, that the gardens have been put to rest, for what I feel might be a long winter, it’s time to reflect on our summer as well as envision the future.
This was my first season working with GtC and working in the garden has inspired me not only as a gardener, but as an activist committed to my neighborhood, community, and world. Working with GtC was my first experience working with a real grass-root community organization and taught me an indescribable amount about community organizing, development, agriculture, the importance of youth programs, and sustainability. I have been a Springfield resident my entire life and never really thought about the issues that faced my own community.
By working with GtC I began to see the isolation and deprivation of people in my own community from basic needs such as fresh food, a clean and healthy neighborhood, access to careers with futures, and quality educational opportunities both in and outside of the classroom due to racism, classim, and urban decay. I will forever be thankful to the GtC youth and team for creating a community that allowed me question and discuss the priorities, assumptions, and values that I had collected over the course of my life.
Winter is supposed to be a time for hibernation, rest, and to keep warm. But, there is still a lot of work to be done. Springfield has seen an unsettling up surge in violence over the past few weeks. If you are a Springfield resident and reading this right now, you know that those headlines of shootings and murders sadden and frustrate you because this isn’t the city that you see on a daily basis. You see a place that is a lively home to thousands of people of countless backgrounds, ethnicities, and lives; a real ethnic stew. Springfield is a city that holds assortment of peoples and their activities, while still mainting a collective feeling of unity because we share the vision of a city filled with peace and prosperity. The press and outsiders see Springfield as a place that is filled with “bad guys.” This is not true. This violence is a direct reaction to the disparity due to a lack of jobs, education, and basic needs which have cause the youth of our city to turn to drugs, gangs, and crime for comfort.
To create peace we must focus on working with the youth of our community because they are the most sensitive to the injustices that are present whether they are conscience of them or not. We must work together to create more opportunities for them to partake in community events, groups, and movements that are constructive such as organized sports, academic clubs, music, and community service groups. We need to devote ourselves to making sure that our children, brothers, sisters, and neighbors develop into independent, strong, smart, individuals who are civic minded. I can promise you that we at GtC are already committed to this and that we will try our hardest to make even a larger impact.
I hope that you have a warm winter, but please don’t hibernate, because we need your help to make our community into a safer and healthier place to live.
Also, GET OUT AND VOTE ON NOVEMBER 3rd!