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Gardens of Gratitude – LA’s Westside Permies Roll Out Gardens Across the City

by Sean Jennings, Los Angeles

Can you imagine cruising the streets of your neighborhood planting edible gardens with your friends? How about planting edible gardens in yards across your entire local community with hundreds of friends? Neighbors in the streets of Los Angeles have done just that.

Initiated by a small community group calling themselves the Westside Permies, they have successfully created a community wide Garden Party over a single weekend for the past 2 years. The idea is simple, sign up as a garden volunteer or offer your yard as a space to put in an edible garden. Then a volunteer assesses the site, the homeowner procures all the supplies, and then when the weekend of the event finally comes hundreds of volunteers are dispatched across our community to help their neighbors create edible gardens in their front yard. Abundance is being created right here in our own neighborhoods.

"It is great to see people who do not even know each other working together to grow food, building relationships and stronger neighborhoods," explains Mary Malko, a Westside Permie member. "If something like this can happen in LA, it can happen in any community."

Editor’s addition: It’s called Mindset
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So how did something like this happen in Los Angeles of all places? It’s not like we were a thriving bastion of eco-warriors. Maybe they just hadn’t had the chance to get together yet! The Westside Permies is a group dedicated to taking action and creating positive change in their own neighborhoods. There is a delicate balance to this though. It starts with observation and thought before undertaking such a large endeavor. It takes meeting with your neighbors, discussing hopes and dreams, arguing and then coming to a consensus. Many people find it daunting to make change happen. Many said that LA is not the right place for this stuff, people are just renters, or that they do not care. The excuses not to begin are endless. What about the excuses to begin? Let’s dwell on that. By focusing on groups that have done something similar, by changing our thinking from "I can’t" to "We can" we begin to believe that it is possible to do anything. What makes one place different than any other? Perhaps our thought patterns?

For 2 years now this has been happening, with over 200 gardens being built – liberating lawns to grow food. Many relationships have been built, neighbors are now visiting each other and talking about what else they can do. Recently 100 people got together to renovate a derelict strip of land into a thriving community spot. Food was donated, a cob bench was built, mural painted and tons of plants planted. This type of community action was unheard of in west LA a few years ago, but now other communities across our city are looking to us as a model.

Action starts from within – once you make it your purpose to act thoughtfully, change happens so quickly. Get out there, be positive and make a difference. Most of all, have fun!!!

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