Keeping the garden of community

There’s something about building community and organizations that gets very challenging for us radical and imaginative visionaries… that being tendency to dream more than grow. We plant and plant and plant… a seed here, a row there. Then we get thinking about what seeds we might plant next. Sometimes we plant them and sometimes we don’t. Then we get thinking about the amazing tree that we might grow in our garden. We look up at the clouds imagining how wonderful it will be to see the sky through thick green branches. While we are looking up at the sky we forget about the things we have planted already… we might even step on a few of our new, potentially beautiful trees and flowers. In our effort to plant more, we forget to fertilize and water what we’ve already planted. Our plants grow small if they grow at all.

desert plant

This, my visionary friends, is not wise gardening. I would think that planting some things that will last year after year with very little upkeep would be the way to go. Once they are well established, we have a foundation from which to work from. But we have to take care of them first. Plants, and communities, are fragile in the beginning.

We so often travel away from our garden… to get fresh ideas, to see other people’s gardens that they are building, to dream and fuel our imagination. But too much time away gets us thinking about the things we don’t have yet. It’s like window shopping for things that you might possibly “need.” We don’t have a list of what we need because we have everything we need, but going out to check out everyone else’s stuff, makes us come up with a list of all kinds of things that we want and “need.” Wouldn’t it be better to study long and hard the few things that we are growing now, so that we can do them well? Wouldn’t it makes sense to talk to those who have done before what we want to do now, so that we don’t make the easy mistakes? Is it really helpful to go out looking for more wild ideas when every time we return, half of our plants have died from neglect?

Another tricky thing about growing community is that we are fed and encouraged very healthily by other visionaries and radical thinkers. Many of those we come across are “doing it.” They have their system figured out. What they touch turns to gold. We want to learn from them, but we also want to be on the same page as them. We want to match their ideas and innovation so that we don’t look bad or inferior. We lose our groundedness in this, though, as we are dishonest (mostly with ourselves) in regards to what our garden needs. If we are growing something and it needs to be watered and taken care of, we had better learn how to prioritize our time and when it is the right time to start something new.

Get your hands dirty, folks. Get down there at the ground level and spend some time there. Get to know your plants and what they need, or you are never going to be able to get the next thing going either.

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