The Neighborhood

I grew up in a suburban neighborhood about 20 minutes from San Francisco. It was one of those picture perfect communities with many group amenities tennis courts a swimming pool even a meeting house. The meeting house was rarely used. Maybe the Homeowner’s Association met there to compose their demands upon the people who lived near them. I don’t know.

When we were younger the neighborhood kids traveled in packs. It was a safe place. Idyllic even as it could only have been through a child’s eyes. We roamed and battled. We built a half pipe out of ply wood and spend 3 summers wrecking ourselves on it. But, as we got older it changed. Families seemed to move inside. The personal computer came along. We stopped hanging out all day. Concerns about going to college took over … and most of us got a hand me down car. We were Californians after all. Driving was our birthright and we were all keen to hit the open road.

My memories of the neighborhood later were of letters of complaint from the HOA or a neighbor over this violation or that kvetch. Home prices in CA at that time were going nowhere but up and people had their minds on their money. It seemed to be piling up – if only everyone could keep their homes perfect we’d all be rich!

Money changes everything. Or maybe cars change everything. Either way – when our happy band of little savages grew up all the magic of that place disappeared.

It wasn’t until I moved to a predominately Caribbean American neighborhood in Brooklyn, thirty years later that I felt what a real neighborhood felt like again. Maybe younger families are key and families that stay close to grandparents… This neighborhood was coming up and being gentrified. This dynamic pissed some people off but others saw it as an opportunity to finally sell and move to a sunny place. I hoped they wouldn’t. That sunny place was empty and cold in spite of all the sun.

In that neighborhood there are folks that have live in the same apartment for generations. If you have a good rent situation in New York, you find a way to keep it in the family. So on that block people had known each other for a very long time. Just like a small town if you were not careful about it everyone on the block knew what was up with you.

I don’t want to idealize the situation because a lot of folks there were poor. But people had networks of mutual trust and help. Folks knew who was good and who was not to be trusted with anything. The streets in the summer were full of kids playing, people BBQing on the steps of their apartment buildings, people asking after each other’s mothers. There were sometimes gunshots, but I felt safer there in a way than I had ever felt in my life, even though I was mostly, an outsider looking in. I was treated as a neighbor, once folks got to know me and I miss it every day.

I now live in a tiny town in the wild west of Eastern Oregon. We go back generations here…I just heard a story of my great great grandpa who had a pet bear that road around with him on the runner boards of his Model T Ford at a funeral for a cousin. We are less than 300 here. Mutuality thrives through informal networks of assistance that also go back generations. My mother has been here 10 years and has so many stories of people just doing for her without request. People here too,  know how to take care of each other. It is what makes life worth living. It gives me buoyancy. It dulls all fears. I am learning every day what it means to be a neighbor.

As we all walk towards the future I think we need to understand that there is no way to thrive under a peak everything scenario without building communities and real neighborhoods. There is no escape to the hills, no thriving without mutuality. Look to your left and look to your right. These are the people who will make you or break you. There is no escape from that. And who would want to?

The fantasy of the solo hero is just that. It is based on ideology not reality. It’s based on a psychological need of the person who engages in it. To me it screams a need for therapy to address some deep parental drama that is unresolved. Your mileage may vary. And I do not intend to insult the rugged individualists among you. I am one and I am learning that it is an internally impoverished way of being.

We are primates, and therefore social creatures. Our gene line is not the baboon but the bonobo. That fact alone should give you some hope. It’s our nature to soothe and to cooperate. But even baboon culture, which was thought to be permanently hierarchical, alpha male dominated and warlike has been shown to develop new communal behaviors which profit and protect all in the band. The key is getting the alpha males to calm down and it’s possible.

For a little more on this – take a look at Standford neurobiologist and primatologist Robert Sapolsky’s work.

A Primate’s Memoir – Robert M. Sapolsky

New Normal – A Radio Lab podcast with Prof. Sapolsky on his experience with the changing nature of his troop of baboons.

We cannot separate easily into tiny roving bands. It would be disastrous for us and for the planet if we did. There are simply too many of us. Our thinking has the potential to evolve. We are rapidly waking up to our nature as a primate with an ability to fly out into space and look back at our home, the pale blue dot. Us monkeys have gone to space. Think about that. Just sit with it for a while.

These changes may be a gift if seen as such.
Our task is to look up the block and down the block and see only us.
More of us.
Our ability to thrive depends on it.
The future is a choice.

What choices are you making to make where you live a neighborhood?
Are you focused on your ability to aide others or only to profit in the future?
Do you plan to evolve your thinking or play out an atavistic scenario?
Do you feel responsibility to grow or simply to survive?
Are you thinking ideologically or practically?

Do you have good memories of where you grew up?
Examples of neighborly behavior?

Some sharing resources:
swapmamas.com
sharable.net

and hyperlocavore.com – a yard sharing community.

We are currently crowd funding our next phase of growth. We are happy to report that this model is working very well. We have just three days to cover the last 25% of our pledge drive but we are happy to report mutuality works! (Deadline March 28th at precisely 4:05 PM PDT)

To help with the last 3 days of the crowd funding project click here.

For more about Liz McLellan and Hyperlocavore.com:

Cooking up a Story
Greenopolis
More Minimal

Previous Campfire post:
On Choosing: How a Hyperlocavore Responds to Catastrophe

Today is Ada Lovelace Day. As a woman in tech since I got my first computer in 1981 celebration is mandatory. This post is about my site and community building through technology and low tech combined. I am of the opinion that balance between the virtual and the real is important to our survival. I hope hyperlocavore.com helps you make those connections real.

This is cross posted at TheOilDrum – Please participate in the conversation! We need all voices.

20 Tips for a Successful Yardsharing Group

Yardsharing (or yard sharing, garden sharing, land sharing or roof sharing) is a new idea and a new way to develop community resilience. Set to be a huge trend in 2010, people are looking for ways to save money, eat better and get their kids active again.

Yard sharing has a long list of advantages. Let’s assume you are already sold on the idea and you looking to get started. How do you begin it in a way that makes your success much more likely?

Creating community where you are will help you weather tough times but, community doesn’t just fall into place on it’s own. Real community building needs to start with clear intention, anticipation of issues and, especially with a garden, some basic planning.

How do you build a group that gets along?

  1. Pick you growing partners with the same attention you would any relationship but, know it only has to last a season if it turns out you haven’t found the right mix of folks.
  2. Start with a party not with a meeting.
  3. For a long-term group have seasonal parties to mark the year. Planning party on the winter solstice and harvest party in September.
  4. Gather resources you already have. Create a garden book share to start.
  5. Set realistic boundaries (garden hours, rules for broken items, distribution of produce)
  6. Involve all ages.
  7. Remember novice gardeners don’t always have immediate bountiful success.
  8. Take bad weather in stride. Some seasons are just bad.
  9. Set up a kitty for garden expenses and put a cap on it.(Some folks can really get crazy with those catalogs!)
  10. There’s no need to spend lots of money to get started. Don’t make it expensive to “buy in”
  11. Take a ‘resourcefulness vow.’ Have all members agree to try to solve issues the least expensive most resourceful way.
  12. Make it possible for people to exchange hours for financial commitment.
  13. Know that critters will occasionally get to things.
  14. Conflict is inevitable. Anticipate it and resolve it openly!
  15. Respect people’s time and property.
  16. Be ready to let someone know when it’s not working for you. Don’t blame ‘yard sharing.’
  17. Be fair. Share failure and triumph.
  18. If you are the landowner don’t treat people like “hired help.” They are your partners.
  19. Agree on growing methods and principles before breaking ground.
  20. If you have concerns about liability issues get a copy of The Sharing Solution by Nolo Press.


Shop Indie Bookstores

And a bonus!

Remember why you are doing it and enjoy every second of eating the scrumptious bounty from your efforts!

Join hyperlocavore today – We are here to help you get started with yard sharing, neighborhood produce exchanges, seed sharing and, much more!

We have some more tips and fliers you can download on the site to help get your communities growing together!

Top 10 Posts – 2009 – Best and Worst Year Ever

It’s been an amazing first year. It started with a huge turn both privately and publicly. Obama’s inauguration was the highest point and the lowest point. On that same evening we got the news that my father was not well, and six months later he was gone.

He taught me many things some useful and some not at all. I am grateful most of all that he told me many times that I could do anything I set my mind to. He certainly thought them strange, many of those things that I have set my mind to. I was able to share some interviews I had done before  he died, and he liked the idea.

He was never a gardener but, always a foodie and a fiend for the super fresh. Some of my best memories of him are the car trips we’d take down California, through the Central Valley stopping at all the fruit stands. The last time we went out together, we went to a fruit stand just down the road from my aunt Duff’s where we were staying. He was too weak to drive and only tolerating fruit at this point. In a real rare moment, he let me drive. Clearly a sign he didn’t have much fight left in him.

My brother Matt got married this year to a great woman with a fantastic sense of humor named Angela. Dad hung on until the wedding in May. We were so glad to have something joyful to gather around, as we knew we would be gathering soon again for something with no joy in it. I have no idea where he found the strength to make the flight. He was a wisp by then, as you can see in the picture at his full strength he was a lion of a man. We had a bagpiper at the service. I wish we hadn’t done that, from now on the sound will rip through me.

This started as a” Ten Top posts” blog but, I digressed. I haven’t been able to talk about this year much. So thank you for indulging me. There’s no talking about this year without talking about losing my dad. When he lost his ability to enjoy food, his sense of taste and smell gone, a full belly causing pain, nausea and reflux, he didn’t want to be here any more. I understand that. I’m a foodie, because he was. I care about food, taste, and freshness because he did.

Throughout the year friends and family have come through over and over again. People I didn’t know very well reached across the screen and gave me themselves. I’ve been surrounded by love and support by the people who I have gotten to know through this project. I can’t mention you individually. The list is so long. I am so grateful to all of my new friends. Without the encouragement you’ve given me so consistently through this very difficult year, I do not know where I would be really. This project, certainly, would not have survived.

My wish is that 2010 brings all of you as much as you have given me and more.

And here we go:

DIY Project – Low Watt LED Greenhouse

100 Reasons to Become a Hyperlocavore

Ten Signs You May Be A Farm Nerd

The Twitter FAQ on @hyperlocavore or How I Tweet

What is yard sharing?

Yardsharing Return on Investment – How Does 61K Sound?

What is a distributed suburban CSA?

The Great Let’s Get Growing Seed Share

On Choosing – A Hyperlocavore Responds to a Catastrophe

How To Start a Produce Exchange in Your Neighborhood

10 Ways to Prepare for the Success of Your Yardshare Garden this Winter

garden can in snow

From @dreamstime

As gardeners of all stripes will tell you, winter is the planning season. Stuck inside, with little chance to get your hands dirty, it is the perfect time to pause and reflect. What will your garden be? Who will you bring into the project? What are your hopes? How will you get the resources together? What will you plant? What worked last year and what did not? There is a lot to think about, and when the days get short and the night long – dreaming is the best thing to be doing, because come spring you will be very busy.

1. Start Finding Partners NOW. It can take a while to work out agreements and plan for a substantial garden. The sooner you start the more successful you will be at finding the right folks and planning for your yardshare. Call your friends who live in apartments or your grandmother who knows a thing or two about growing food in your area…Make it a family affair, or a way to gather some folks you don’t get to see often enough. Or bring up a yard sharing project at your house of worship. Perhaps your faith community would be interested in growing fresh food for the hungry this spring? It pays to start now. Healthy groups and good agreements take time to develop!

2. Start it off with a party! Once you have found some people you would like to garden with, have a potluck party and celebrate your new community! Getting to know people over a shared meal and music sets the proper tone for real community. It above all should be fun and light. Save the substantial discussions for another day. Light candles to brighten the winter dark, play some good music, talk about your dreams for the garden or gardens and break bread together because this is the beginning of something wonderful!

3. Read up. Get a copy of The Sharing Solution by Nolo Press. Read it!  For those that are more risk averse and have some anxieties about how to share without encountering legal bumps this is the place to start. I am not a lawyer, so I suggest everyone with these sorts ofconcerns consult my favorite legal eagles – Nolo press. Make a list of other books that are useful to your yard share group. Will you use permaculture methods, bio-intensive or no till? Bring everyone up to speed! Tons of great books are available in our hyperlocal Indiebound bookstore or you can create your own little library.

4. Create your online home. Once you have found your yard share group start your private pod on hyperlocavore to share planning, documents, videos, pictures, links and jokes! Teach each other what you know about how to grow in your zone and create a place where new members down the line can catch up on all the ideas and wisdom you’ve gathered. Documenting things will help you evaluate what worked and what did not in terms of what you tried to grow but also in how you chose to organize the project. Imagine the yard share going on for many seasons, plan for success by sharing knowledge from the start.

5. Have an expectations discussion early. Get your worries and how you will address them on the table. Do this online so people can flesh out their concerns, people can respond and agreements can be documented. If things get tense, have another potluck – and work it out over something yummy. Face to face builds real community, online tools can support it but doesn’t substitute for it. Start asking these sorts of questions…When is it OK to be at the home/yard of the host yard – and when is it NOT OK? Will you compost collectively? Is it a strictly organic garden?

6. Involve the Kids. If kids will be part of the garden share, make sure they participate in the planning and expectation setting. If they are involved at the start they are more likely to enjoy participating. Here’s a list of garden activities for kids. Work some kid centered fun into your plan. A garden is one of the best hands on learning experiences a kid can have. If you have any biology geeks in your group – maybe they can hold a lesson now and then?

7. Have a resource gathering. Gather together and make a list of all the things you hope to grow. Research what works for your zone and pull a kitty together and order your seeds and starts. Some heirloom and specialty seed houses run out of stuff before spring. some things like garlic starts go quickly. Take an inventory of who has what tools, seeds, transplants, cuttings and a list of the items you will perhaps need to buy. Plan for storage of tools and make sure people know where everything goes at the end of the day. Make sure people’s time, knowledge, and commitment is valued, money shouldn’t be the only currency you acknowledge. Be aware that many people are coming to the yard share project with a need to save not spend heavily. Get ready to bargain hunt and browse all those spring garage sales. It does not need to be an expensive project.

8. Talk to your neighbors about what you are doing. Introduce them to your new friends. Let them know about hyperlocavore, maybe they want to start their own yard share. Think about how this sort of project can revive the neighborhood.

9. Visit hyperlocavore.com and ask questions of folks that are already yard sharing. Share your ideas and concerns. Maybe someone has already worked through it. The forums are built for just this sort of sharing.

10. Plan for harvest, storage, success and failure. Some things you try will have fantastic results. Other things you try to grow will fail. Set your expectations with this in mind. Will you can or dehydrate the excess? Will you need to plan to purchase some tools for this as well? Will you seed save for swapping next year?

Let me know if this is helpful in the comments – and please add your own suggestions!

Happy Digging!
LizM

Help Me Help You Get Yard Sharing Going in Your Town!

Please share this video with any one you know who might be interested in getting yard sharing going in their communities.
I can set you up very quickly! It’s a service your community can have up and running in minutes – for FREE!

What is Yard Sharing?
100 Reasons to Become a Hyperlocavore
What is a Distributed Suburban CSA?

twitter me @hyperlocavore




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Let’s get growing!

Adding Yard Sharing to Your Community’s Offerings

front_panel_com_groups

Are you a faith community or community level organization looking to expand your offerings and impact without expanding your budget? We understand that creating a yard sharing registry is valuable resource for any localizing organization. We’re here to help.

We can set up a branded group for your organization, assign a member of your staff as an administrator and have the all the resources on hyperlocavore.com available to the people in your community who are interested in starting a yard sharing group.

Here are the advantages to using hyperlocavore.com:

1. For the wider concept of yard sharing and sustainability to succeed we have to support and nurture the relationships that people form to yard share. It’s a new idea. People need help and it is time consuming to attend to all the needs of this community.

2. Simply creating a registry or map, does not support the groups forming or staying together. It takes human resources to deliver anything beyond a matchmaking service. Those groups therefore are on their own, and left to succeed or fail on their own. Hyperlocavore.com offers ongoing support for those relationships, a community of other people all over the world working on yard sharing and group gardens, and a community of support deeply committed to the success of each yard sharing arrangement. It may not be part of your mission to offer anything on top of a matching system. Nurturing these groups takes time and commitment.

3. You program will not be dependent on funding that is not always available from quarter to quarter. This is a self supported site. The members of your community who want to yard share will not need to worry that volunteers may or may not be available to keep your site registry up to date using technical staff or volunteer hours.

4. We can brand your group or area page with your logo.

5. If you DO have staff hours available we can allow you to administer your own pages. If not we can do that for you but maintain the resources with your logo.

6. This is a way to immediately expand your offerings and effectiveness without impacting your non profit budget. If you are a for profit business we will do the same for a small monthly fee.

7. The value to the members of a network such as this is intimately related to the number of people involved. Silo-ing one area from another, means that our mutual friends may never find each other.

8. We are called hyperlocavore because we have the ability to match people on the neighborhood level and allow them to create private groups to internally organize their own yard share groups. We exist to support these relationships and are happy to share credit in partnership.

9. Impress your board members with a quick launch of an invaluable resource whether you are a faith community, a poverty reduction community organization, a real food group or a professional edible landscaper we can add value to what you do every day!

It take minutes for us to set your organization up. It’s free for non-profits and suburban farmers!
Let’s get people growing TOGETHER!




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Liz McLellan hyperlocavore.com

What is yardsharing?

TAKING A BREAK © Vossphotog... | Dreamstime.com

TAKING A BREAK © Vossphotog... | Dreamstime.com

“You know, the tomato that’s from your garden tastes very different from one that isn’t. And peas – what is it like to eat peas in season? So we want the White House to be a place of education and awareness. And hopefully kids will be interested because there are kids living here.”

– Michelle Obama on the Whitehouse Vegetable Garden

hyperlocavore.com,” which blends bottom-up collaboration with food production. It’s an example of peer-to-peer agriculture, and it’s a pretty neat concept. The founder of hyperlocavore wrote to me, saying that she thought this was a pretty “worldchanging” idea. I agree. Check ’em out.”

– Jamais Cascio
openthefuture.com and worldchanging.com


What is a ‘hyperlocavore’?

A hyperlocavore is a person who tries to eat as much food as locally as possible. Growing your own is as local as it gets!

What is ‘yardsharing’?

Yard sharing is an arrangement between people to share skills and gardening resources; space, time, strength, tools or skills, in order to grow food as locally as possible, to make neighborhoods resilient, kids healthy and food much cheaper!

Why would I want to set up a yardsharing group?

Yard sharing is a way to connect people who love to garden, people who love healthy fresh food and people who have yards! Often people who have yards have little time time for a vegetable garden. And sometimes gardeners have trouble finding soil to garden in because they rent an apartment! Sometimes older people lack stamina and are socially isolated, finding younger people to partner in growing food together works wonderfully for all. There are all kinds of reasons it makes sense.

Yard sharing works for:

  • apartment dwellers
  • busy parents
  • older people
  • frugalistas
  • foodies
  • tree huggers
  • cheap bastards
  • farmers lacking land
  • land holders lacking farmers
  • people sick of leaf blowers
  • curious kids
  • folks with a disability
  • people who want to get outside more
  • people that want to eat better
  • people that want to eat cheaper
  • people who want to make their community resilient
  • people who like their food super fresh
  • people worried about peak oil
  • and maybe you! (if you’re not on the list – send me a note!)

Yard sharing cuts down on greenhouse gases by limiting the travel time of fruit and vegetables to your table.
Yard sharing is a great way to connect with your family, friends and neighbors!
Yard sharing helps you eat more veggies!
Yard sharing can be a workable solution for people with physical limitations who want to eat better and more cheaply.
Yard sharing is an excellent way to teach children about food and biology!
Yard sharing is a great way to get cheaper produce to older people on a fixed income!
Yard sharing helps you get enough vitamin D from sunshine!
Yard sharing is a way to avoid pesticides and other chemicals on your food!
Yard sharing is a fun activity to share!
Yard sharing helps to create independent local food systems that are less sensitive to the price of oil.

And nothing tastes as good as food you grew yourself!

Who can yard share?

Anyone! If you don’t see a group for your area just create one! Then send invites to people in your neighborhood, your friends and
their friends and maybe you will find someone willing to start with you!

OK, Sign me up! No! Wait, is it free? Yes? OK, Sign me up!


No thanks, but I do want to take a look.

This post is part of Fight Back Fridays!


hyperlocavore.com is a free social network here to help you form a yard sharing group with people in your neighborhood, a group of friends, a community restaurant and it’s neighbors, members of your family, faith communities or new friends made on hyperlocavore.

How to Start A Produce Exchange in Your Neighborhood – Share Your Extra Fruits and Vegetables!


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Yardsharing Workbook – Requesting Your Ideas!

GARDEN GNOME ©Cammeraydave

GARDEN GNOME ©Cammeraydave

I’m in the process of writing a workbook for yard sharing groups and I could use your input!

The success of any garden share depends entirely on the expectations set by the entire group at the outset of the relationship between the members of the group. Respect of each other’s needs and hopes for the project should be a given.

It’s important to keep the workbook a flexible tool. I am assuming groups will have different needs regarding the formality of their agreements. My question to you is what sort of things would you need to work through in an agreement with your yardsharing members before you felt comfortable forming a working group?

  • What needs to be in your agreement?
  • What would be a deal breaker?
  • What questions would you have for the garden or property owner?
  • What questions would you have for the gardeners in the group?
  • What questions would you want to work through regarding finances for your group?
  • What is important to formalize?
  • What is important to keep loose?

These agreements will depend only on what each group sorts through. How can we help make these groups enjoyable and workable for all the people involved?

Thank you in advance for sharing your thoughts!