My Small Success as an Activist
Although the project officially ended in July of 2014, we are continuing the Wildflowering project on our front lawn. We are adding some additional wildflowers as well as native perennials that will produce flowers for our bees and attract butterflies and native birds.
Since the Wildflowering L.A. project launched, I have been learning a lot about native gardening, low water plants and sustainability practices in our changing climate. I volunteered at the Arboretum at their Wildflowering L.A. site, and I was looking forward to working with them this coming winter and spring on their proposed plan to create a Food Forest Crescent Garden, which would use sustainable gardening practices and water conservation.
Unfortunately their plan of a Crescent Garden has changed in September because of the lack of funds. The new plan for the Arboretum changed to plant a low water turf alternative, which would have used chemicals (including Roundup) to kill the weeds.
This news came as a shock to me so I wrote a letter to the CEO of the Arboretum and also created a petition.
Here was my letter to the CEO:
My name is Enci Box, a Mother of a toddler and another soon to be born baby, and a frequent visitor of the Arboretum, especially the Crescent Farm.
Aside from being a Mother, I’m also a Wildflowering L.A. participant. I tracked down Leigh at the Arboretum after I read the Daily News article about the Arboretum putting a conservation spin on the Wildflowering L.A. project by using water harvesting techniques and building hugels to feed the soil and mulching to get rid of weed instead of chemicals (dailybulletin.com/lifestyle/20140109/the-arboretum-unites-california-native-wildflowers-with-sustainable-water-harvesting-techniques).
I’d like to consider myself an educated person. When my husband and I transformed our front yard from lawn to native garden, we got rid of the weed and grass by mulching, without using chemicals. We got rid of all the decorative plants, to plant only edibles and to plant only native flowers that would attract bees, butterflies and birds. Years before my toddler was born, I cleansed myself and my house of any chemicals. I’ve educated myself about chemicals in our soil, our homes, our food, and our general environment.
And then last year, the Wildflowering L.A. project came along. When I read the article about the Arboretum in the Daily News, I believed that I found a little heaven for me and my son to spend our afternoons. We spent countless hours volunteering for Leigh, so we could learn about the Hugelkultur, so we could be outdoors in a safe environment and build memories, so I could learn best practices for my garden at home, and so that my son would learn and pass on what the Arboretum was teaching to his generation and future generations to come.
Today I found out that the plans for the Crescent Garden have been canceled and there were new plans to install some kind of lawn that would require treatment with pesticides.
First I was appalled! I couldn’t believe my ears. No more garden! No more playtime in a chemical free garden at the Arboretum! No more digging the ground for worms and pillbugs!
And then I cried.
I cried for my son, who will not be going to the Arboretum anymore. He will not be learning about the plants, dig worms, plant in the garden, nor will he see the transformation of the beautiful garden into an edible farm.
I cried for me. I cried because I believed that I found a place in Los Angeles where I could have learned about creative sustainability, where I could be hands-on with my kids, where I could see the faces of the visitors, who stood there during the Wildflowering L.A. project, smiling, inquiring, taking pictures, and praising the good that the Arboretum is doing.
I cried for the future. NY just had its largest Climate March; people are searching for new answers for water conservation all over the world; there is a boom in urban homesteading, and the Arboretum, a non-profit, decides to change their mind about the Crescent Garden, which was going to educate people about water conservation, alternative gardening, “and to make the most of limited water, energy and space.” (Please see your own note from the Arboretum January Newsletter: arboretum.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/ARB_JanNew17-Web.pdf). I felt the soil slip under my feet and sat down on the ground. I felt that I had put hope into something and believed in something that has been just a lie. My days at the Arboretum had been over.
I know you were a huge fan and supporter of the Wildflowering L.A. project and the Crescent Garden. Without you this project would not have happened. And I can only imagine how you feel about the change of plans, especially since your Crescent Farm support is public.
From you: “The Crescent promises an exciting future. As the wildflowers begin to fade this summer, we will develop new gardens that may draw from inspirations as varied as permaculture, plant ecology, and Native American foraging traditions. The resulting landscapes, presented as horticultural experiments, will hopefully encourage reconsideration of the continuing primacy of the front lawn. Yet change happens only when the right alternatives appear, and our ultimate goal is to demonstrate viable options for home gardens and public landscapes alike.”
And more from you: “This act of creating a wildflower meadow, part of the value is the communal sharing of transforming an acre of thirsty turf into a landscape that’s far more sympathetic with this arid region’s environment,” said Richard Schulhof, arboretum CEO, who has been exploring countless ways of transforming the one-acre parcel since he arrived four years ago.”…and…”As Schulhof puts it, “This is an inaugural moment of moving away from turf and onto other things.”
I implore to you to voice your support of the Crescent Garden and continue on its planned path. I implore you to not give in to the proposal to use chemicals and to build another lawn. Please stop this backward thinking and move forward instead of backward, and show the world that the Arboretum is the place where people can come and learn about sustainable gardening, water conservation, and alternative ways for their garden. The Crescent Garden would not just benefit Californians but it would attract and benefit visitors from all over the nation as well as all over the world.
I’m setting up a petition to continue the Crescent Garden. I’m also going to contact as many newspapers and bloggers as I can. I won’t give up on my son’s future, and I don’t want to lose this little piece of land at the Arboretum that gave us so many wonderful memories, so much knowledge about being a better gardener, and so much hope for the future of Los Angeles and the planet.
Thank you for listening and I thank you in advance for doing the right thing for all your visitors (human and non-human) and for Mother Earth!
Mother, Artist, Activist (MAA)
In less then 24 hours of launching the petition and making noise on Facebook, Twitter, various groups online and off, emailing press and recruiting friends, we gathered over 100 signatures and the CEO of the Arboretum reversed his plans of the low water turf back to the chemical free Crescent Garden Food Forest. YAY! So exciting!
This victory is incredibly satisfying and I’m extremely happy! It really shows how we can make things happen without leaving our homes and with the power of the internet.
Of course there is more to it then the internet. You need to know what you want, what you need to do to achieve what you want, and you need to know who to ask what you want.
Here is a video of Kevin Spacey about how to achieve success:
To *want* and to be ambitious and to want to be successful is not enough. That’s just desire. To know what you want, to understand why you’re doing it, to dedicate every breath in your body, to achieve . . . If you feel that you have something to give, if you feel that your particular talent is worth developing, is worth caring for, then there’s nothing you can’t achieve.” Kevin Spacey
Having this petition make a difference in how the Arboretum is continuing their sustainability practice means a great deal for me and for the future of my children. I consider this small victory a huge success! I won’t stop here. I will continue to petition the Arboretum to stop using Roundup in their garden all together but we have to get the Crescent Garden plan “secured” first. 🙂
I hope you will join me on this journey in the coming months and this coming year. I will keep you all updated in future articles.
I wish you all a cool and successful October!
I’m still writing my “Plan B articles“, so if you have a second career, please email me and I will feature you in one of my upcoming articles. Please put in the subject line: “Actor/Actress with a Plan B”. Tell me your name, what you do, how long you have been doing it, and please include a photo of you (at your Plan B job) and a link to your acting and Plan B website.
Enci is a Mother, Actress, Artist and Activist.
Contact Enci with article suggestions or find her on Twitter, Facebook and other networking sites to connect. When contacting her, please introduce yourself and tell her you read her column in the Networker.