“The world has never truly had to develop an ethic of interdependence rooted in our common humanity. And if we do it, the twenty-first century will be the most interesting, exciting, peaceful era in history.” —William Jefferson Clinton
As I prepare my home and work and heart to be a parent, the most important thing on my mind is the world our child will live in now and when we’re gone, and what we’re leaving for future generations. I believe businesses, individuals, and governments have a responsibility, not only to their organizations for results, but to embody the changes they wish to see in the world.
We have just celebrated Earth Day, a time to reflect upon and take action in support of communities and organizations that promote a healthy balance with the environment and the wise management of natural resources.
It behooves us as a society to become involved in community projects and to support leaderships that encourage community participation and investment, rather than those favoring or fostering market dependency and the blind enforcement of rules for the sake of maintaining bureaucratic control. Organizations such as community gardens, which allow neighborhoods to participate in growing healthy food crops by combining resources and efforts to benefit the community, should be supported and stories such as the one reported by Eric Lewis, of the Green Living Journal’s, Special Earth Day Edition, Issue 14, Earth Day 2011, should be a thing of the far distant past.
As recently as April 8, 2011, in the state of Tennessee, when the Tennessee Department of Transportation [TDOT], partially bulldozed the Carver Food Park, founded by Sizwe Herring in 1991. This community garden is one of the oldest and largest community gardens in the city of Nashville, and has been used by hundreds of residents not only as a garden but also as a gathering place for gardening related workshops, seminars, celebrations, and memorials. The Park sits on land set aside for an interchange on I-440 that was never built, and is owned by the Federal Government but managed by TDOT. There has been a long-standing verbal agreement between the Board of Directors of the Carver Food Park and TDOT to allow the community garden to use the space. The park has won the support of at least six neighborhood associations. The Sheriff’s Department set up the tool bank. The green house was donated by the 12 South Neighborhood Association. And the stage was built with city permission. According to Mr. Herring, Carver Food Park has had an excellent record over the years; there has never been an accident or trouble with legal authorities, and until recently, there have been no complaints from neighbors."
Eric Lewis goes on to report that TDOT took action in response to a formal complaint filed by twelve neighbors about alleged metro code violations. However, little to no opportunity was given Food Park organizers, who had until May 6, 2011, to make any needed changes. Why then did bulldozers demolish the park structures and gardens on the morning of April 8, 2011?
The Green Living Journal reporter raises some interesting questions. . .
“How is it that city ordinances were being enforced by a state agency? Did the city know about it? What would the Mayor’s Green Panel say about an attack on a community garden two weeks before Earth Day? Why was no effort made to reach any of the six neighborhood organizations that support the garden about this?
Was this action a consequence of there being a new Governor and a new TDOT Commissioner in the wake of last November’s election? Was the word not passed down that Carver Park has enjoyed a peaceful relationship with TDOT for 20 years?”
Examining the track records, practices, policies and political agendas of the various political parties, government agencies, and officials is deeply important. Speaking out, letting our voices be heard on issues that impact our communities, and voting are the responsibilities of every citizen. Responsible leadership is a process in which we can all take part.
Our task now is to remember how truly connected we all are. We should all be as concerned
about what’s happening in the communities where we live as we are in the far off rice fields that are impacted and suffering under environmental changes. If we don't our own bowls may soon be empty. And there is still time to do something for the world we share.
To obtain a copy of the, Carver Food Park Partially Bulldozed by TDOT, article as printed in the Living Green Journal, contact info @ greenlivingjournal.org.
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Karlin Sloan is the founder and CEO of Karlin Sloan & Company, Ms. Sloan provides organization development consulting, training and executive coaching to clients the U.S., Europe, South America and Asia. She is the author of Smarter, Faster, Better; Strategies for Effective, Enduring, and Fulfilled Leadership (Jossey-Bass, 2006) and Unfear (January 2011).
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