I did a crazy thing.
I made friends with people I met on line.
In fact, I did an even crazier thing. I made friends with people I met on line and then went and met them in person.
And that led me to one of the most inspirational people I ever met– LaManda Joy, master gardener, amateur historian, and force of nature.
In Spring of 2010, LaManda learned that a vacant lot in her Chicago working-class neighborhood had been an original World War 2 Victory Garden. As a lifelong gardener and amateur historian she set about to recreate the garden as a modern organic Victory Garden. With the help of the local alderman, she was able to get the property owners to secure use of the land, and to bring the community on board through social media, networking and simple old-fashioned leafleting around the neighborhood.
Thinking it would be fun to garden with 10 or 20 people, she set up in a corner of a nearby bar for an initial community meeting; by the time I found out about it via Twitter about 2 weeks later there were about 75 people interested. By the time the garden opened, there were 157 families gardening with The Peterson Garden Project on that former weed-filled lot. This year, LaManda’s energy, conviction, and vision have led to 7 gardens with more than 2,650 people actively gardening. I’ve been spearheading the Grow2Give program, which sets aside 5% of the plots for food pantry donations. This year we’ll donate about 500 pounds of food. If you want to read about the story, check out Peterson’s blog WeCanGrowIt.org.
And why am I telling you this? The Peterson Garden Project, which changed my life, and is working to change a whole lot of others, has been nominated for Chase Community Giving, an on-line crowd-sourced funding competition with $2.5 million at stake. I’m hoping this community here will be as inspired by the Peterson Garden Project as I was, or that you’ve been inspired enough by my contributions here to take a moment now to vote for the project. You’ll have to allow a Facebook app (sorry), but from what I’ve read it’s a fairly benign one, and they do a lot of good work through the program.
We’re hoping to win $10,000 as one of the top 100 vote-getters (for a start). That money will help us build more community gardens in 2013, and to continue and expand the Grow2Give program. Please take a look at our competition entry, and vote for us today!