Soooo…. I just had to be dorky and write this title since tonight I went to my first HUG meeting. Sounds like a support group for insecure and lonely people, doesn’t it? It’s an acronym for Hilltop Urban Gardens. A few weeks ago, when I was starting to have a few freak out moments, wondering what the h-e-double hockey sticks we had done moving to the Hilltop, I just decided that I needed to find out what is going on out here in terms of groups to connect with. I went on Facebook and just typed in Hilltop. I found some people actually just started a lot of groups called “Hilltop”. It’s like starting a Facebook group called Texas and hoping that people will “Like” it. Sort of a long shot. Well, I did find HUG in the mix of everything and decided to Like it. Tonight I actually went to the meeting, the very first meeting, and ended up running into a girl I know and also the organizer did a Master Gardener program with my mom so she knows her, and now me. So reassuring to start running into people who I have a small connection with.
This is something I’ve noticed about this area, we all live close together. Profound, I know. People who are here are very aware of how intense it can be to live here but so far everyone we’ve met loves living here, even with all its craziness. I’ve lived in other cities where you meet up with people but they often live on the other side of town from you, not unusual. Here I’ve been fascinated how many of us all live just within a few blocks from one another, it’s like an actual community. Imagine that!
The meeting was great. I’ve always wanted to be a part of an urban gardening program. In Madison there were tons of community gardens but individuals basically did their own gardening alone. People rented a plot and just grew stuff. I wanted to be a bit more involved with the aspect of food justice and that hadn’t developed there yet. If I wanted to be a part of that I knew I’d have to start something and I am not in a position to take that on at this point in life. So tonight I was very inspired by our tiny little group of gardeners who want to develop a program that ties a neighborhood together. I was even able to bring my ideas to the table, which I was a bit reluctant to do since I’m so new to this area and even though I grow food I’m still fairly new at it. I’ve only been doing it for 5 years and everything I do is self taught. Some of these people have taken programs and college classes in agricultural development. I’ve also never had a garden in the NW so there is a lot I still don’t know about gardening in this climate.
The idea on the table was a Harvest Party. They wanted to get ideas in that category, just ideas thrown out. No right or wrong, just ideas. I wasn’t sure what they wanted so I just wrote “Eat family style, rather than buffet style, at tables to create a hospitable atmosphere”. They loved it. It sparked a lot of conversation on what it means to draw people together and empower them. I also realized that I was in a room with gardeners and not outreach coordinators, something I’ve been doing a long time, so I could actually see that I did bring something to the table. I also suggested that we mix aesthetics in with The Farm, as it will be called, in order to show the beauty of agriculture and use local artists to contribute. Looks like we might fuse the Hilltop Artists In Residence to get more people involved.
In short it was a rad night. I’m finding a place for myself here in this urban jungle. It’s funny how much Matt and I talk about this place and it’s quirkiness, how this isn’t what we were planning to thrust our family into but here we are. In a sense we’ve always wanted this but we’re still adjusting to it and taking it all in. Our neighbors still have a toilet in the back yard and it’s an anomaly to me, lots of things around here are. Why take a shopping cart home if you only have one bag in it? Why leave a Barbie doll wedged into the gutter of your house for months on end? Why smoke crack? Why leave a used mattress on the front lawn? Peculiar and intriguing. Sad and hopeful. This place is a strange plus and minus of events and scenery. Today it was horribly gray in the sky but there was a rainbow above, a double rainbow even (I know….”It’s full-on a double rainbow!!! What does it mean???”) The lovely lives next to the unlovely all the time around these parts.
I’m excited to see a garden spring out of a vacant lot. Beauty for ashes! Dirt, food, flowers….I’m inspired by the commitment some of our neighbors have to make this place matter….