I’ve been reading Guerrilla Gardening: A Manualfesto by David Tracey. It’s been fun to read, very informative and very inspiring. Many of the nation’s oldest established community gardens were started by a group of people that claimed some abandoned space or vacant lot and started planting something there. I love the idea of sneaking life into dead places. It sounds a lot like the gospel to me. It really simplifies the idea of urban gardening. Your main tool is a good shovel. All you need are seeds or plants to put in the ground, and many of these are found for free.
There is something inspiring to me about looking around you at an urban landscape and seeing, not the endless sea of concrete, but the possibility of grass breaking through the sidewalks. I’m almost halfway through the book and I can already whole-heartedly recommend it to you. It’s full of great quotes, sidebars, lists and tips. Enough to keep the most ADD of us interested and inspired. I see urban landscapes and abandoned places in a whole new light when I can imagine them becoming life-giving gardens.
Tracey’s definition of guerrilla gardening is “gardening public space with or without permission.” I like that it is both “with or without permission.” He points that a lot of times if you ask the city or owner would be happy to let you garden in certain places. It’s not about being anti-government or only working with the system. It’s about another way of life. One that transcends whether or not you have permission. I think the mark of something that truly transcends our current systems and forges a path forward to new ways of being and living might just be something that is not so much concerned about whether or not the Powers sign on to the movement, but interested in embodying the reality of another possible world. If the Powers become converted, subverted or join us along the way so much the better.
So, then my son came home from the library with a wonderful book called The Curious Garden by Peter Brown. It was guerrilla gardening for kids. It starts off with a dreary urban landscape. The kid in the story goes to play on the abandoned railroad tracks where he finds some plants growing. He begins to take care and nurture them. Slowly his garden takes over the entire railroad tracks. Eventually it spills over to the rest of the city. As everything greens up other people become gardeners too.
Planting life, beautifying ugly places and making the world a better place should never be against the law. I have no problems teaching my kids that Jesus would be a guerrilla gardener, because he most certainly would.