Today was the first Music for Relief volunteer event outside of a concert or Summit for the year, and it was in collaboration with #DoGoodBus. Together we helped SJLI (Social Justice Learning Institute) continue their young, “ambitious” but brave movement to improve their community; Inglewood is categorized as a “food desert,” which is what a city with little to no access to larger markets is called. 7 Elevens are where groceries are done for most, and they have over 200 fast food restaurants, but not many more options. Their healthy options are very limited, and expensive.
Instead of waiting for the nation to note one city out of thousands or try to lobby politicians to possibly call a change, the Inglewood communities are taking matters into their own hands, specifically their hands with a green thumb.
Today we met in Culver City and had a very fun ride on the Do Good Bus (Pictionary on a bumpy bus, anyone?), driven to Queen Park- a small, but beautiful little park nestled within a neighborhood. What caught our eyes right away was that the park was a community garden. I’ve only seen those in Sesame Street, to be honest, so it was something new to see it. The uniform, same-color gardens set on either side of a lovely mural and benches with a stage looked welcoming and had all of us looking around impressed.
What Inglewood is doing to bring healthier options to their community is called “100 Gardens in Inglewood,” in which they grow vegetables and fruits as a community, collect their produce, then sell back at an affordable price. The small projects building towards 100 Gardens in Inglewood are “10 Homes, 10 Seeds,” which is what we were a part of today. As a group, in a matter of just four hours, we were welcomed into homes and built together what could have taken a whole day or more, and it’ll continue as so until 100 Gardens are grown. After a quick introduction and an awesome game of Elfs, Giants and Wizards (an awesome, fun spin on Rock, Paper, Scissors), we were assigned into groups of four or three, assigned group leaders, and then sent to our assigned homes with gloves and hand tools.
Kat, Joey and I were a group, and dropped off about two blocks away. I truly believe we had the best family out of everyone, because the fun we had was beyond any expectations. We were greeted by a couple with two teenagers, and the fluffiest Akita I have ever been able to cuddle. During our longer break later on, Joey and Kat took them on in a game of volleyball, in which Arrow (their Akita) tried to join in! We also got to talk about their upcoming college experience and our own college experience coming to an end soon. Can’t forget the fact that he not only played Linkin Park for us to work to, but he also worked the lighting for “Burn It Down”! We asked him how it was working with them, and despite the long 20 hours of work, he enjoyed it and thought they were great guys.
Another reason we loved our hosting family was the fact that they had already once started a garden, so there was already a sectioned off area, and we just had to weed, remove two large bushes, clear old weed-cloth and loosen up the dirt! With Dad and his two kids helping our group, that was quickly taken care of. Leveling out the dirt, we were able to bring in the compost mulch mix. Moving those heavy bags was a funny sight with us dragging and tripping with these large, insanely heavy bags, haha.
With the mulch spread out, we then started to make rows and walkways that were mapped out previously by the campaign managers, making the most of this large garden and placing certain vegetables next to others depending on how they affect each other’s growth. The onions and okra ran out quickly and would need to be delivered another day, but some plants such as the corn were actually a bit too much! In the end, though, we made it all work well within the space.
We ended up sweaty, dirty and slightly burned, with dirt in our hair and even down our pants, our jeans brown at the knees and nails black with dirt- but stepping back and looking at our garden, seedlings and seeds nestled into the compost… it felt pretty awesome, especially having made it with such a fun, caring family and adorable dog. Our good-byes said, contact information exchanged, we walked back to the Do Good Bus for food and a group photo. Loaded up again soon after, we headed back to our meeting spot, where Whitney fed our MFR love with shirts, bottles and my favorite- the Hurricane Sandy Relief bracelet. All in all, a great day! Can’t wait to do more.