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A Jerry Lewis Memory – And A Reminder To All Gardeners To Take Care of Your Community

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At the end of last fall, when it was time to close up the garden – I had an adventure. I gathered bulbs, gloves, shovel, bucket, and a rake together, balanced them delicately in my arms and headed out behind the fence to enjoy one last dig in the back garden.

As I took one long stride across the widest part of my community garden bed, I put my foot down and feel as if I am going to over-balance. There’s a slippery lump under my left foot and my right foot, now ponderously hanging in the air, is leaving no purchase. With a jerk, I try to find balance, managing to hang on to the armful of equipment with luck. Still teetering in a drunken Jerry Lewis fashion I take another step and without warning spin another 180 degrees before falling on my hind-in with a whump and cracking the back of my head solidly on the cement walkway.

Take Care of Your Community

Cars drive by. No one stops. I lay there looking at the sky for a few minutes, recovering what dignity I have left. Not much at this point, I might add, and get myself up and dust off. When I look back at the garden it looks as if an explosion has happened; bulbs, bucket, gloves, shovels and all equipment laying willy-nilly, and a surprise is laying in middle of the mess.

An unhappy surprise. There in the middle of my garden is a piece of garbage – a slick piece of clear wrapper, which is what slipped me up and now had me fuming. Imagine the audacity of that dastardly plastic; purposely targeting me like that!

It did get me thinking about garbage, however. Rarely do I see someone toss trash out the car window – society has learned that tossing garbage out the window is not acceptable. Yet, when we see a piece of trash which has blown in a garden or laying on the ground, particularly if it is more than one step from the side-walk, we do not pick it up. Why? Perhaps we think it is someone else’s problem. Yet the truth is, it is not. Living greener does not mean being green only within a three foot radius of your person. It means taking care of yourself, your family, AND your community.

In our community we have a terrific environmental group called the “Adopt-A-Block” club. Once a month, this group gets out to pick up trash in the neighborhoods and to encourage a positive mindset about caring for the neighborhood.

When I take a walk I stop and pick up any trash and recyclables that I see and bring them home for the recycling bin. Why? For pete’s sake people, because it’s the right thing to do! This is why I am always surprised when I see garbage in my public garden back on the bike path – it is next to a public walkway where hundreds of people walk by every week. It is not anyone else’s “responsibility” to care for my garden; it is my own. Yet, I did build this garden for my community to enjoy on public easement property, and the public tells me they want me to keep it there. I think of the pervasive societal implications related to this issue; has our society raised a “ME” generation which does not see the value in caring for nature, for building gardens, or for caring for one another in a community?

I leave you to answer that complicated question and encourage you to clean up trash in the environment – making a difference for your community is a deeply important part of being green and gardening. Help other gardeners take care of the world. Meanwhile, back in my garden, perhaps I should consider wearing safety pads and a helmet to protect myself from my own Jerry Lewis antics. Either way, I will keep picking up trash with a smile.

Shawna Coronado says Get Healthy! Get Green! Get Community!

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  1. Your unfortunate incident reminds me of the time I spent a couple of hours cleaning up along the banks of a stream bed on the campus of my alma mater, Slippery Rock University. No one joined me, of course, and I got some odd glances from students passing by. I didn’t care. (I was a 47-year old non-traditional student.)

    If you subscribed to receive updates from my blog, or if you were following, please resubscribe. I switched templates and I’m afraid followers
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  2. Hi TC – Already signed up to follow your blog again – no worries.

    And – one of my good friends, Jim K., a local conservationist and river clean-up guru had an even more outrageous experience: he and a group of volunteers were pulling dumped sofas and old chairs out of the river.

    A police car pulled up and the policeman threatened to arrest the team and demanded Jim and his crew stop throwing sofas IN the river.

    Of course, it was cleared up pretty quickly, but you can imagine the crowd was shaken up by then.

  3. Shawna,

    When I was a kid, I’d hoped people would learn not to toss out their garage onto the roadside, but it never happened. In very poor parts of this country people have to pay to go to the landfill with those sofas, washing machines ect, eating and paying the bills in likely more important than paying the tare at the landfill. Something should be done about that.

  4. Randy I loved your comment. I agree with you – something should be done about it. To help educate people on conservation and better ways to take care of the earth, I have opened another blog based on the concept of my book, called “Gardening Nude.”

    It is a blog where I am trying to teach people to be good to the earth and good to each other. I hope it helps.

    Here’s the link –

    Take care and thanks for your note!

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