Won’t you be my neighbor?

I was glad to read “Sowing Deeper Seeds” [Aug. 4, Xpress] about the way Robert White and Lucia Dougherty have found gardening as a way of “leveraging the community” at Pisgah View Apartments. We read a lot about “sustainability” in Asheville these days. Some find the word overused — a buzzword. It’s like what Bill McKibben says about community: “Politicians left and right sprinkle it through their remarks the way a bad Chinese restaurant uses MSG, to mask the lack of wholesome ingredients.” He goes on to say, “But we need to rescue it; we need to make sure that community will become … one of the most prosaic terms in the lexicon, like ‘hoe’ or ‘bicycle’ or ‘computer.’”

Robert White and Lucia Dougherty bring “sustainable community” home.

In West Asheville, we take such words to heart. As the burgeoning Transition Asheville movement reminds us, it is in our best interests to localize the sources of what we use day to day. When gas goes back up again to $4 per gallon, as it did in 2008, transportation costs will dramatically impact budgets, eventually changing the way we do a lot of things. And as worldwide weather disasters have demonstrated, the effects of climate change are already here. Now is a good time to re-learn the skills of self-sufficiency and working together in neighborhoods as a cushion against the changes that will come our way. As Bill McKibben put it, “Think globally, act neighborly.”

On Sept. 11, we will remember the terrible lessons (learned and yet to be learned) from the attack on the World Trade Center. We can also celebrate something more positive this year in Asheville: the models of sustainability some of our neighbors are creating right in their own backyards. The second annual West Asheville Garden Stroll will be held Saturday, Sept. 11, [from] 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., with a kickoff event at the West Asheville Library.

In our neighbors’ gardens, we can refocus and see the beauty and inspiration of a more sustainable and resilient everyday life.  We can celebrate the advantages of pooling resources, working together and “leveraging” community.

For more information, visit www.westashevillegardens.com.

— Chas Jansen
Asheville

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2 thoughts on “Won’t you be my neighbor?

  1. Last year’s West Asheville Garden Stroll was awesome. I was so impressed to see real gardens tended by real gardeners and not homeowner’s landscapes. The art, creativity and individual personality seen in these gardens was truly inspiring. This year looks to be even better with more gardens on tour and all new gardens to see.

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