Tag Archives: garden

Liberty State Park, a Photo Essay

27 Aug

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If you are familiar with Liberty State Park in Jersey City, then you will probably recognize the scene in the above photograph. It’s the walk way along Audrey Zapp Drive leading into the park. If you aren’t familiar with the park, then that photograph gives you an idea of what you might see when you visit that part of the park.

What of this scene?

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Yes, I DID take that photo when I was in the park. But I don’t remember where I was standing when I took that photo and have no more than a vague idea of how to get back there. That photograph is so very specific as to exact time and place that there is almost no change that that scene could be duplicated in another photograph. One could surely photograph another scene more o less like it in the park. But one could also take a similar photograph in any of thousands of other places. And yet that is a photograph of Liberty State Park.

So, what does it make to take a photograph of Liberty State Park? One photo can be used to jog one’s memory of the place, or to set expectations of what you’ll set when you get there. The other is very specific, and it evokes a mood, a feeling, one you can find IN the park. But is it typical? Does that matter?

The next photo is like the first in that it shows a recognizable feature of the park, the Liberty Science Center:

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And this one is like the second; it was taken in the park, but could have been taken any one of many places:

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And then we have this photo: Continue reading

A Garden State of Mind

20 Sep

Though I watched my mother tend to her flower gardens, I even helped her weed, and each Spring I looked for the irises to bloom, I didn’t become a gardener. For one thing, I never owned a home with grounds for a garden, though I could certainly have planted gardens in the house I rented in Cropseyville, NY, for two years or so. But I never had any such inclinations.

Thus it comes as a bit of a surprise to find myself tending plants, pruning them, a bit of weeding, and a bit of watering. I like it.

But what’s it about, this gardening thing? Here I’m thinking as an evolutionary psychologist, you know, the folks who believe that we’ve got Stone Age minds we’ve got to harness to operate the Modern World. And I agree with them, in a way.

Our Stone Age ancestors didn’t garden, nor do our primate relatives. We all forage and eat plants, and we also do a bit of hunting for animal flesh, humans more so than other primates. We’ve got ‘instincts’ for those things. But we’ve got no gardening instinct.

Nor for that matter, do we have instincts for quantum mechanics, archery, basket weaving, hopscotch, square dancing or bowling, among many other things. So how does our Stone Age mind do such things?

Obviously we’ve got to construct routines for these various purposes. Continue reading

Looking Up

16 Jul

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Our Gardenbrain Economy – NYTimes.com

11 Jul

YES! The economy’s a garden, not a machine. It must be tended, not cranked. Right now the cranks are ruling the country and they’re making a mess of it!

What we require now is a new framework for thinking and talking about the economy, grounded in modern understandings of how things actually work. Economies, as social scientists now understand, aren’t simple, linear and predictable, but complex, nonlinear and ecosystemic. An economy isn’t a machine; it’s a garden. It can be fruitful if well tended, but will be overrun by noxious weeds if not.

In this new framework, which we call Gardenbrain, markets are not perfectly efficient but can be effective if well managed. Where Machinebrain posits that it’s every man for himself, Gardenbrain recognizes that we’re all better off when we’re all better off.

via Our Gardenbrain Economy – NYTimes.com.

What’s a Community Garden Community?

9 Jul

Two questions, closely related, but not the same:

What’s a community garden?

What’s a garden community?

So, what IS a community garden? I suppose it’s a garden that, in some sense, belongs to a community rather than belonging to a private individual or organization.

In what sense CAN a garden belong to the community? There is the legal sense. This requires that the community form itself into a legally recognized organization and that that organization, in turn, owns the land on which the garden is created. But, legal ownership of the land is not necessary nor sufficient. The land can be donated, and it need not be donated to anyone or any group in particular. It need only be made available.

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Gardens require labor. This IS necessary. Where does that labor come from? Why, from the community. People donate their labor to the garden, creating the beds, planting, weeding, watering, aerating, and harvesting. Where do the fruits go, the vegetables, flowers, herbs, and, yes, fruits? To the community.

And so it is with the Lafayette Community Learning Garden in Jersey City, NJ. While is has been organized out of the Morris Canal Community Development Corporation, MC CDC doesn’t own the land. The land has been donated, if only for a couple of years, by a local developer. Local businesses provided materials, supplies, food and drink on work days, and plants. The community itself has been providing the labor. Some people knew about the garden before ground-breaking and signed up ahead of time. Others pitched in when they saw things happening. Continue reading

A Community Garden Builds Itself

28 Jun

Not, mind you, that the rocks just up and cleared themselves out of the way, nor did lumber arrange itself into planter boxes, much less did the dirt leap into the boxes followed in close order by seeds, seedlings, shoots, and sprouts. Nothing like that. But the garden wasn’t planned by spreadsheet and Gant charts, nor was it built by highly organized teams working against the clock, on time and on budget. Fact is, if you’d been on site any Saturday—and a few weekdays here and there—from mid-April through May and into mid-June it’s not clear to me just what you’d have seen. And I was there.

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It all depends on just when you showed up. You might have seen people building things, planting things, watering the plants, and painting the wall. But you might have seen some women and girls tossing rocks over a wall, or a young boy burying himself to his neck in a mound of dirt, or a middle-aged man taking photographs of a plush-toy frog lounging in the lettuce, or men women boys girls and dogs chillin’ around the barbecue listening to hip-hop and Rnb on the radio.

Not a high-energy task-oriented workforce at all. But they built the garden. We, we built the garden—I’m the guy who photographed the toy frog. Also shoveled some dirt. And ate some barbecue.

This and more happened on Pacific Avenue near Commnipaw in the Lafayette neighborhood of Jersey City in the Spring and early Summer of 2012. Come to think of it, not far from where Henry Hudson first set foot in the New World in 1609. The Lafayette Community Learning Garden.

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Continue reading