Saturday, June 21, 2008

Chenchita's Group Community Garden

This summer we (Phil and I) bought a membership at Chenchita's Garden.
The garden is located at 112th Street and Madison Avenue in Harlem. We have a 4 foot by 8 foot raised bed and in spring we planted a variety of plants, tomatoes, peppers, basil, lettuce. onions, all in that little space. I would have planted more but I was advised not to as some of the plants would crowd out others as they grow. Now that the plants are about 2 months old, we can see that more clearly. Today we staked up the tomatoes which had started to take over, weaving all over the other plants. Hopefully this will save the peppers and basil. Oh, we also planted broccoli.
Mirta and Jose are in the garden next door and they have a great cherry tree in the center of the garden. It's now fruiting and the cherry's are lovely. They were a special treat for all the work we put in, building more beds, transplanting and cleaning up the garden. My back is very sore as a result.

Monday, June 9, 2008

What is Protest?

I've been thinking about the concept of protest for a while.
Protest often evokes images of sign carrying and slogan shouting. It may also generate images of violence, of police, of hippies or counter-culture protesters. Those are the images that the media
show us and many of us have had some exposure to protest. Either we've participated in protests in the past (and still do), or we've seen them. A lot of people can say that they've never participated in a protest or wanted to. A lot of us assume that protesting is something liberals do, but this isn't true. Plenty of conservatives find issues to protest about. OK, so that's enough on the basics about protesting. People do it regardless of their political leanings.

What I've been thinking about is how people are protesting outside of this model. What are people doing that might be considered a protest? Why are they doing it? Would they consider what they do protest? So we're getting a good way into this without clarification. How about if we start with what a protest is? Saying the protest is an expression of disagreement with a prevailing opinion is rather simplistic, but accurate nonetheless. If we take this definition and look for signs of protest, there are plenty.

I just read an article about Richard Reynolds, a guerrilla gardener in London. Guerilla Gardening is a form or protest. Where urban land is laying wasted because there's no development or use on it, Reynolds will plant a garden. Somehow landowners, business owners and police have found this to be offensive and he has been harassed by all these groups. The point though is that his form of protest does not fit the prevailing image.

How about the many folks who live off the grid. Isn't their very lifestyle a form of protest. They have their own reasons for doing it, and yet they have decided that they do not want to participate in the same form of energy distribution and sourcing that the majority of people tap into in order to power their households.

Now that I've been seeing protest in many different forms, I've been watching for it and there are plenty of examples. Sandor Katz is a common name among people that are into fermentation. I look at this as another form of protest.

I think I'll stop there for now. More later.