Garden's & Farm's Satyagraha

Posted by Pancho Ramos Stierle on Apr 8, 2014
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It was incredible the awe I felt when I saw chard coming up the ground, breaking up the concrete around it in the middle of an empty abandoned lot in Fruitvale, East Oakland. To live in this neighborhood facilitates one's appreciation for the miracle and resiliency of life. When one sees chard coming up from a concrete crack, we celebrate; when one sees youth smiling and not falling into drugs or gang violence, we celebrate; when a child's laughter is louder than gunshots, we celebrate; when the bullet is prevented to inevitably reach the heart of a mother, we celebrate; when a father is not deported and the bosom of the family is complete, we celebrate; when former gang members become ARTivists who beautify our neighborhood, we celebrate; when the community comes together to stop the criminalization of our youth, we celebrate; when the song of sierra treefrogs caresses your dreams --from the backyard-- in the inner city, we celebrate; when we convert an empty plot from an eyesore into a community garden with fruit trees and flowers that makes the community physically, mentally and spiritually stronger and healthier, we celebrate.

And when any of these celebrations is threatened by greed, we come together to resist and to touch the hearts of all for we are moved by love.

Just a few days ago--the same day BBC Science & Environment News published an article regarding the benefits of gardens in cities-- I wrote an email encouraging local people to protect a garden we started 3 years ago:

"Greetings dearest citizens of the World, satyagrahis of the Bay Area and beyond! :-)

May this email find you planting self-reliance and love in these times of climate change.

It is well known that the more gardens, trees and compassionate farms a neighborhood has, the more harmonious and peaceful it is.

While some of us are beautifying East Oakland with more community gardens and healthy food, some people in the administration of the city of Oakland are destroying our neighborhoods with violence of all kinds. This time an empty abandoned lot that we converted into a community garden is threatened, and with it, another piece of our collective health.

The community of Fruitvale has long history of economic marginalization and one way we practice empowering each other and creating hubs of convivial interaction is through urban agriculture, here, in the middle of the asphalt jungle.

This is an excellent opportunity to disobey with Great Love and to send a clear full-of-love message to the whole administration of the city of Oakland: healthy and local food is the foundation of social justice.

If you feel moved by the work we are doing in this part of the Planet, please:
1. Sign the petition
2. If you are nearby, come out to any of these community events

-- Thursday, April 3:
5-7pm Garden work-day

-- Wednesday, April 9, 5-8pm:
5-8pm Community Building BBQ!

All events are at the garden: 28th and Foothill Blvd (map)."

This little garden might seem like an innocuous one, but it is weaved into an ongoing network of a guerrilla gardening campaign --or Occupy 2.0 ala Occupy the Farm if you wish-- around how we can become more self-reliant by the facilitation of the growth of soil and community. Now, more than ever, our combined efforts must be focused to disobey with Great Love everywhere there's a block to the wellbeing of all. In particular, we must disobey the so called "market".

Next time we see an empty lot, specially if we live in the (inner)city, look at it through the eyes of the soul-force, the satyagraha eyes and heart that convert an impossible oponent into a dear friend, the unstoppable heart's intention that converts trashed places into vibrant urban farms.

As Martin Luther King Jr. and César Chávez said: "We have Cosmic companionship." Let Earth speak through us. This is the redefined turf we are protecting, or is she protecting us?

May all become compassionate, courageous and wise.


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Comments (4)

  • AJay Amstutz wrote ...

    Urban Champions! Heroes and Sheroes!

  • Sunaina Chugani wrote ...

    I will share the petition with the Infinite Love community. :)

  • Melissa Dickman wrote ...

    Love to all of you holding the space and digging with the earth in Oakland. I am with all of you.

  • matthew kowalski wrote ...

    Great work you guys, very proud and feel the change already, I am blessed to live here in East Oakland, 30Y district is doing great and innovative guerilla gardens and taking back the streets for health and safety.