We’re having to adapt to problems that we’ve never seen before. While the COVID -19 virus spreads widely due to human contact, weeds spread exponentially in the absence of same. That’s why (after observing Oakland’s initial mandatory shelter-in-place order) a small but highly dedicated group of volunteers has been showing up monthly for the Splash Pad Grand Crew’s 4th Sunday volunteer work days. This past Sunday, Crew Leader Mary Jo Sutton was joined by Claire Wing, Blaine Hatab and two new volunteers, Jesse Dwyer and Rachel Paluska. Together, they filled six large compost bags–not to mention assorted trash.
We asked Rachel (whose husband co-owns the recently opened Comal Next Door Mexican restaurant at 550 Grand) for her first impressions and received the following response:
I’ll come back again for the next work Sunday, in part to learn a little more from Mary Jo. Yes, the instant gratification from tending to that charming garden, which enhances the neighborhood ten-fold, is reason in and of itself. But I was inspired by the breadth of knowledge Mary Jo possesses around plants, and found myself wanting to take notes. One small example among so many: I learned that there are 1,600 types of bees in California alone, as I got to watch many different species pollinating the native flowers there, along with the birds happily pecking at specifically-planted seeds and berries. I found the experience to be quite cathartic, helping me let go of the stress of these times, and remember what’s important to hold onto. I also watched so many others enjoying the garden in their various ways, either chatting over tea, or resting on a grassy bank, not to mention all the intangibles enjoyed by everyone who passes by.
It’s impressive what powers of hope, respect, and transformation may lie in one humble garden or in the words of Margaret Wheatley, “There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.”
The next work day falls on August 23. For more information or to be placed on the Grand Crew’s contact list, please email Mary Jo Sutton.