October 26, 2013, 1-4 p.m.
Green Acres Neighborhood.
Georgia and I were clear, focused, and determined; this party would happen! No matter what! To that end, Georgia bundled up 250 bags with all sorts of info about GANA (Green Acres Neighborhood Association), and she and I managed to distribute them to the doors of maybe 200 of the 440 homes around here. We were hoping that they would catch the attention of newcomers especially, which means, mostly, in this core neighborhood near Indiana University, students, in their ever-changing, newly-occupied student rentals.
The idea for the party cooked up over the summer, when Forest Gras, of the Forest Gras Band, moved across the street from Georgia and kept telling her that we should have an event. Well, of course, that’s always a good idea, and GANA has held many events over the years, but we hadn’t held one over in her neck of the neighborhood for at least four years. Since 2009, we’ve held events in the Green Acres Neighborhood Garden next door to me, including Harvest events; so I was happy to see this 2013 event move two blocks away, to Georgia’s side yard. I’d help with publicity.
To that end I also sent an invite and reminders to our GANA list-serve three times.
But who knows? Will anybody come?
That’s always the question in a university neighborhood such as ours that has so much student “flow” through it, and where even core people (those who live here for years, hopefully) move out of the neighborhood or out of town, or get too busy with other things to join us in our continuing, stalwart intention to unify and vivify our neighborhood, transforming it eventually, into the Green Acres Neighborhood Ecovillage (GANE).
How many times have I slipped into depression when one of our favorite active neighbors flew our little community coop? How many times have I had to talk myself out of depression, to see flow from a larger perspective?
“Flow” is also a permaculture term, and usually refers to flows of air and water and soil and seeds and animals, not people! But looking at our neighborhood in permacultural terms, yes, young vital students are perhaps our most crucial, and vital, flow.
Okay. After our flurry of publicity (which also included a sign in Georgia’s yard for the final three days, facing the street), Saturday rolled around.
Refrain: Will anybody come?
Most of the week had been rainy off and on, then turning unseasonably cold. Saturday morning dawned overcast, though not quite so cold. But geez! Will anybody come? (At one point that morning, losing faith, I thought about calling Georgia to ask if we should call it off.)
Okay, 1 p.m. Time to head over there.
Walking those two blocks, hauling chips and salsa, I commanded the sun to shine in ten minutes. And you know what? Ten minutes after I arrived, the sun peeked out, and then remained for the duration, closing behind clouds just after 4 p.m. as the party ended. Hmmmm.
When I got there the place was sort of forlorn. Sweet tables and chairs set up, the four-person band bravely fiddling with sound gear and wires under the stand-up tent, a table with tablecloth and goodies already on it.
Where was Georgia? Where was anybody else? Oops!
Aha. There’s Jen. Think I’ll go with her down the street to investigate her wonderful front yard garden, and chicken coop in the back.
Here’s her front garden. Sweet gate!
Here’s her partly finished stand-up greenhouse/cold frame. Yes! Her husband, who works full time, is going to get a friend to help him finish it next weekend. This weekend, he took the kids (two and four) to his parents’ corn and soybean farm.
On the extreme left of the photo, inside the greenhouse, do you see a bunch of dead-looking vines? They cover sweet potatoes, which she’s about to harvest.
Here’s Jen with her little family’s backyard coop. Nice. I will come back for a closer look when we put chickens in back of my house next year. I’ll also ask my son Sean, in Massachusetts, for the plans he used to build their coop. And check out a few more local ones. And maybe even repurpose the existing shed?
Wow, her chickens have a big back yard! Probably twice the size of my son’s back yard, which may be why, unlike his, they haven’t ruined this one with their scratching and pecking.
Jen is demonstrating self-sufficiency with her garden and chickens. Other neighbors on their block are thinking about doing the same. We’re demonstrating neighborhood cooperation with the Green Acres Neighborhood Garden (GANG). Both are necessary in times to come.
[That’s right: We feature GANA, GANG, and GANE . . .]
Okay, back to the party. The band has started to rev up, and geez, they’re good!
Well, it took about an hour. One full hour for people to start sauntering over,
despite that they could hear the band from several blocks away. . . . Luckily, we had gotten permission from the city for this three-hour afternoon event! At one point I walked back to my house, to get my dog, and ran into a neighbor with her dogs, and invited her to join us. She look at me with a pinched face, said “no thank you.” And then asked if we could turn the volume down, because “It’s not the kind of music I like to hear.” I told her I’d see what I could do. But of course the band didn’t turn it down.
Always, in any neighborhood, there are those who have trouble getting into the (temporary) swing of things . . .
When I got back, the sauntering in was well on its way,
including at least four or five undergraduate student neighbors! One of them even played and sang during the band’s intermission. Yay! That’s what we were hoping for! Plus, they all signed our email list, and several of them want to work in the GANG garden. YES!
Just as exciting to me, two youngish men, Malcolm and Rowan, came to the party, men who have recently moved into the neighborhood and want to get more involved. Two youngish men, joined by a third newcomer, Forest of the Forest Gras Band! Yay! Plus there were a number of people I’ve never seen before, including one shy, older man on his bicycle who, when I introduced myself, said he was sorry my dog died (my little white dog Emma, who died two years ago); that when he read my blog posts about her death (I’ve referenced the first one, all five are found on the page The Grieving Time), he cried. I almost cried to hear him say that. Not because of Emma, but because of his sweet, vulnerable reference to his feelings, and because it made me realize, once again, how you never know how your one wild and precious life may be interacting with others’.
Here’s one final shot, showing the crowd that, like me, couldn’t actually stand to be all that close to the loud band, even though we loved the music and the camaraderie.
All in all, a wonderful day. Thanks everybody, for sauntering over! Thanks, Georgia! And thank you, The Forest Gras Band! Check them out!