N93: Newsletter

I am almost finished with my third newsletter, not a bit like this one, for my little community. Publishing every two weeks is what I am shooting for this spring. The reason I want to write so many is to keep excitement high with the community garden effort. The first newsletter simply introduced the community garden idea and invited all the residents to a weekend kick-off. We had food and drink, a composting / wormery demonstration and all the seeds purchased and donated were laid out for all to see and talk about.

Two weeks later I wrote about community art projects. This was last week and I wrote about it here at make-a-(green) plan. It is a sort of logical progression from blog to newsletter, yet I need to take care as the worlds are two separate spheres. For one thing, there are very real privacy issues for myself and my neighbors that preclude revealing too many particulars. I will need to remain vague when describing my community.

It works the other way too. Despite the fact I have given out the blog URL to several neighbors, I realize this removes the anonymity that can be a truly freeing aspect of writing in this venue. As I wrote Tuesday, I am not a fan of the self-censorship I was raised to practice. Also, in my blog I can make value and taste judgments about the little personal world around me. In real life it is best to shut the fuck up.

Case in point . . . I was measuring the public area the other day and a retired neighbor helped me by holding the measuring tape. While jotting down dimensions around the swimming pool I commented about a plastic bin holder, “This is really an ugly piece of crap.” The woman said, “I like it.” She proceeded to tell me how she uses it to place her book, etc. when she is at the pool. I realized later she may have been the one who ‘generously donated’ this dollar store detritus. I call it that because it clearly was originally a knock off version of a storage caddy with plastic drawer bins in a base with extruded guides. It was not made to last. Trust me – U.G.L.Y. Hey, I am constantly balancing design values (snobbery?) and waste concepts in decisions myself. What’s a woman to do?

This third newsletter, Mid-April edition, is complete except for some photos the manager took. I am waiting for her husband to email them to me. (Observation: So many women seem to find these steps to download and email something that requires a penis. It means I don’t get nearly enough photographs from female friends and family as I'd like). I asked her Tuesday to climb up on the pool shed and take a picture of the garden from above. I thought it would be great to have a ‘BEFORE’ picture. I am so happy that the manager is both spry and enthusiastic. She is a positive force of nature and that kind of cheerful resolve makes all of this community activity achievable. I title one regular column, Manager’s 2¢ for her to be a part of each issue.

One of the tasks I completed yesterday was a spreadsheet of all of the seeds donated. I included the back of the package information about depth of planting, spacing, germination, growing time, sizes and other comments. I thought it would help to have a record of this for future and a handy guide for this coming weekend’s planting.

Another opportunity I am taking in writing the newsletter is to use the newsletter to announce the upcoming Earth Day, then Arbor Day. These are great segues to raise awareness of sustainability and living green. I am attempting to routinely add quotes and images worth talking about amongst ourselves and outside this community.

I believe our residents should be in every issue via personal notes / photographs or simply mentioned in park news, like last week’s council meeting where 3 of us spoke or the 9 of us who worked to spread topsoil and manure in the gardens. In this upcoming issue I included an adorably sexy picture of my next door neighbor (not this one). He has volunteered so much of himself because in his work as arborist he has an inside track on soils, pots, plants, tools, trucks, etc. He is our official Worm Wrangler so I captioned his photo that way. I know he will blush and grin at that.

So far I have found that almost half of the residents have email, so I can distribute a .pdf via a group email. The board secretary has agreed to print a color copy for me to keep as a record and another for me to post in the community laundry room. Another resident last newsletter volunteered to pay for color copies for the residents who don’t have email.

Each issue so far has had a mention of the resident who has lived here the longest and is the president of the residents’ association board. She goes to all the city council meetings and knows the community and this park better than anyone it seems. Besides, I think respect is a given with our elders. US popular culture has denigrated the elderly whereas, in my opinion, they just might be able to help us all figure out how to live in a post-oil world.

Last but not least, the newsletter has been so appreciated and praised; I am encouraged to keep it up. I wrote the other day,
We want to be loved, accepted, respected, safe, productive, happy, secure, understood, confident, trusted, amused, conscious, perceptive, healthy, positive and smart.

So, besides simply being flattered I can also help pull this off in my tiny pocket of the California biosphere.

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