Bloggers Note:
The entry below was written to initiate our community-vested garden project at the City of Delray Beach, FL Park and Recreation site called Veterans Park. Delray Beach is referred to as the "village by the sea". For those interested in creating community gardens, we found clearly outlining the part people can play vital to moving our project forward. The second article then outlined the distinction, as I see it, between healing spaces and therapy gardens.
"Listen to the garden" Zeami Motokiyo, noh playwrite (1364-1443)
Compassion as a pillar of revitalization is integral in achieving and maintaining a living and growing garden. The challenge is not in setting something in motion as a cornerstone to community; rather, it is in spurring the compassion in each of us to sustain the currency of community. It seems the human condition is often played out in stark contrast: either/or, have/have not. Conflict and fear generated out of a black and white world can allow pessimism to manifest as inertia. Recognizing change is accomplished in small increments; we invite you to review a vision for generating compassion among our "village by the sea" -- one sprout at a time.
We're asking people to choose to be a part of a garden design and a project based on their interests and aptitude. The types of garden projects falls across a spectrum of talents and preference. The main purpose of the therapeutic garden project is to encourage the kind of compassion and understanding for nature and for people with dissimilar backgrounds that only first hand knowledge and immersion in collective action have the potential to achieve. Therefore, to take advantage of the full effects of engagement in this project, "gardeners" would have to spend at least a few hours a week at the plot of land they have in their custody.
To amplify the magnitude of the proposed project, it's recommended gardeners be given basic instruction and opportunities for cultivation of plant life and other aspects of holistic wellness. In this way, gardeners would have the opportunity to experience a real life “growth laboratory” of applied cultivation and budgeting skills that will have long-term positive effects on their future life skills. The additional challenge of future fundraising will help to engender commitment to the project, encourage enduring learning of life skills, while gaining invaluable insight and sensitivity to the interconnectedness of people and ecolology.
Gardening maintains the values of compassion, responsibility, holism, and to greater meaning in experiences, and this interconnectedness will likely have increased significance in people's lives. Interconnectedness as Katie Love, a holistic nurse at the University of Connecticut points out, can be construed by focusing on relationships between people, but, she adds, "connection can be physical as with physics or spiritual by reflecting a higher power or purpose." Interconnectedness reflects that people and the universe are connected in a powerful way. Its essential meaning reflects that regardless of the worldly barriers of politics, religion, or culture, people can share in a universal reciprocity of love and responsibility. In addition, self-actualization can be achieved through the personal satisfaction of being connected to something that benefits the entire community. Collectively, all of these components will assure compassion, sensitivity and insight gained by the volunteers will be assimilated in their consciousnesses and thereby positively influence future generations.
Of course it's a yeoman’s task for one person to promote, organize and sustain a therapeutic garden initiative. And, it will take more than one type of effort to accomplish the goal of sustained development.
However, I draw inspiration from an example that epitomizes interconnectedness. Greg Mortenson, co-author of the book, Three Cups of Tea (Mortenson & Relin, 2006) is an exceptional person, who has a passion and mission to help the people of Pakistan and Afghanistan by building schools. He did this in order to return the enormous favor of their having saved his life after his failed attempt at climbing the mountain, K2 bordering Pakistan and Afghanistan. He started with not much more than his ambition and vision. He practically raised funds with no prior knowledge of how to do this: building or supporting 132 schools to date.
Accordingly, as Greg Mortensen and the Pakistan and Afghani people have done, let us raise our first, second and hopefully our third cup of tea at the table with people in our community in order to build compassion, appreciate our diversity and create a construct that brings us closer to nature and ourselves.
By Randy Eady
Co-Project Leader, Veterans Park Therapeutic Garden
Love, K.L., "Interconnectedness in Nursing: A Concept Analysis" Journal Holistic Nurs. 2008 Dec;26 (4):255-65.
Mortenson, G. & Relin, D.O. (2006). Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace One School at a Time. New York: Viking Press.

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Comment by Asif Iqbal on October 16, 2010 at 5:21am
Thank you Randy for the inspiring thoughts around your blog. I loved reading about gardening and interconnectedness here. Thanks for liking my blog and commenting here :)
Comment by Randy Eady on October 16, 2010 at 4:28am
For more on peaceful thoughts in this region. See Colors of Life Blog

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