Gardening for peace: Growing peace where you are – Part 1

Gardening is about connection to the land, connection to your community, and working to create and sustain life.

Women Against Military Madness (WAMM)… Gardening is about connection to the land, connection to your community, and working to create and sustain life.

Women Against Military Madness (WAMM) has embarked on a new project to continue our work for peace and justice. We realize that people engage in the peace movement in various ways and during the summer, one of the ways to do this is by creating a peace garden in your yard or home. You can include flowers, vegetables, and herbs, as well as beautiful peace items like statues for reflection and meditation, then share your garden with your community.

Another possibility is the establishment of a community garden. Community gardens provide a space for the gathering of community residents. In an article “A Meaningful Place: Community Garden as Metaphor,” Stanton Jones, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of Oregon, wrote, “They [community gardens] inherently reflect the cultural diversity extant within their community; and they illustrate to those involved and those passing by that they are places of caring, cooperation, and hope. Community gardens also provide evidence that aesthetic preferences in public space range far beyond the traditional, “architectural journal” aesthetic to include a more culturally-sensitive, intimate, communal vernacular that design professionals can help to inform, but not necessarily create. Community gardens are a great place to grow peace where you are.

Last year, I picked up an absolutely wonderful book at the Bibelot shop: Growing Home Stories of Ethnic Gardening. The book includes interviews and photographs of more than 30 Minnesotans who have imported the style and tradition of their native or ancestral lands into their gardening. It includes Finnish-born Maiju Köntii, who cultivates the beautiful roses of her homeland, and Polish native Danuta Mazurek, who manages to grow the colorful, leafy alpines of the old country in her small urban yard. John Maire moved to Minnesota from the Sudan and has encouraged many fellow Africans to reconnect to communal life through the Immigrant Farmers Coalition and a group farm located near Elk River. Next to their downtown Minneapolis high-rise, a group of Korean Americans grows a Peace Garden, which includes wild sesame and the lovely and edible Chinese bellflower. I highly recommend this book as a must have for your gardening and general enjoyment library!

Gardens can be very literal and tangible things, but they can also be a metaphor a symbol, an image. Writers Chris Maser and Zane Maser in their book “The World is My Garden: A Journey of Consciousness” write:

“As I worked in my garden, I began to see that all the global problems with which I had for so long been wrestling (ecological, social, personal, and spiritual) were reduced to the size of personal awareness and understanding in ways that I could never have imagined as a younger man. Every conceivable problem was only a matter of scale and essentially the same, regardless of culture or language, and was played out again and again, whether I saw it in the sub arctic of Alaska, the deserts of Egypt or the American Southwest, the jungles of Malay, the Alps of Europe, the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, or the coast of Oregon.

The problems were not only repeated elsewhere but also occurred in my garden in one way or another. This is not surprising, when I think of it, because culture is a structure that is artificially imposed on people and consequently reflected in their gardens. While the specifics might differ, the principles are identical, and the scale of the problem in my garden is one I can understand, relate to, affect, and expand again to a global view.

This summer, WAMM is growing a garden a garden of peacemakers. The following are their stories and introductions into our community garden.

Mai Chao “a Lilac” Lee<

June 23, 2003
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