New Community Garden

New Community Garden

There’s a new community garden here in Livingston, and it’s right up at the end of my alley at the Lincoln School. The Lincoln School was converted years ago into artists studios — they’re not very expensive and there’s always a waiting list for those nice old classrooms with the big windows. There have always been two big patches of lawn out front, and when the International Fly Fishing Center was there, they’d have casting classes in the summer. This spring, someone got the splendid idea of converting all that useless grass into a community garden.

Saturday I walked over and had a nice chat with Michael McCormick, director of the food bank and his wife, who were finishing up the rows and planting veggies. There are a couple of high raised beds for the wheelchair bound folks at Counterpoint, the organization across the street who offers services for those with developmental disabilities and brain injuries, and there are rows set aside for the food bank, for Loaves and FIshes (a Christian soup kitchen) and for other special needs groups in town.

Because our weather has been cold and rainy (with hail on occasion) everyone is getting a late start this year. But I’ll keep you posted as it comes along. If it works out this year, they’re planning to convert the other patch of lawn. It’s a really exciting development, and I can’t believe it’s right up at the end of my back alley!

4 thoughts on “New Community Garden

  1. Hey, language person. “Wheelchair bound” is really derogative. It’s an easy shortcut, and one used a lot, but it’s not cool. In this case, you could just say “accessible.”

  2. Heather,

    I hope you take the comment below in the spirit in which it is intended; i.e., I hear your complaint, but I urge you to consider your approach. I understand you simply zipped off a quick response to a perceived slur, but understand, too, that Charlotte probably zipped off a two-word phrase without thinking much about it (positive or negative) either. If you can call her out on what you believe to be an illegitimate phrase, I have the same right. Now, on to the comment.

    Maybe Charlotte will feel differently, and I obviously do not speak for her, but I think that accessible is actually *less* descriptive than wheelchair bound. I honestly spent the better part of a decade and a half not realizing that “accessibility” in computer settings had anything to do with changing settings for those who might otherwise have difficulty using the computer. Certainly “wheelchair bound” might not be *the* most descriptive phrase, but it conjures up an image that explains something. I think an alternative to wheelchair bound might be called for, but I don’t think accessible is it. Accessible to who? Why wasn’t it accessible to begin with? In this particular context, if Charlotte had written that there were some accessible beds, I would have thought it meant that the community-at-large could now access garden plots.

    Another point (well made by George Carlin) is that people cannot possibly keep up with the constantly shifting terminology pertaining to people with disabilities; and the only result of each successive change is that the people being described have a new opportunity to feel offended. First there was lame, then handicapped, then disabled, then differently abled. I believe wheelchair bound might even be a further iteration of the phrase to describe people with some sort of condition which impairs their ability to walk. I’m not some right-wing, radio show host wacko. I’m a decent, compassionate, inclusive uber-left winger who is just tired of somehow feeling guilty for slights that were never intended. (And yes, I do believe that the feeling of guilt is my own to deal with; but I believe comments like yours, Heather, prey on that feeling of guilt in others.) Which brings me to my next point.

    Since you decided to critique Charlotte’s “language,” and since I know Charlotte had no ill intent, and since I myself might easily use the phrase “wheelchair bound” and end up on the same end of your criticism stick, I started thinking about your comment to see if you might have actually persuaded me that “wheelchair bound” is “really derogative.” In thinking about this, I looked up “derogative.” Obviously I had a general understanding of the word, but the definition for “derogate” in my dictionary is “to cause to seem inferior: DISPARAGE.” I then looked up “disparage” for good measure. The definition is: “to lower in rank or reputation: degrade.” Based on those definitions, there is nothing actively derogative about the phrase “wheelchair bound.” If a wheelchair bound person *feels* derogated by that phrase, OK, but that’s subjective. I see no need to call out and pass judgment on someone who by all measures is a very loving, generous, kind person. Furthermore, the whole point of making the project “accessible” is to topple some obstacles to inclusion in a community. I would hope that the intent of the project (and the fact that Charlotte would point this out as a plus) would outweigh any perception that a phrase was intended to degrade a person.

    Trust me, I think that everyone should feel as “included” in our communities and our world as possible. I just don’t think it’s helpful to don a holier-than-thou (or “cooler” than thou) attitude when prodding people to a different level of consciousness about such things. Kindness counts.

    Finally, hey! The community garden is great!!! That’s great news!


  3. I have read suggestions by people who use wheelchairs to say “wheelchair user” instead of wheelchair bound.

    and what a great way to repurpose both the school building and its grounds!

  4. Paul–I love Charlotte’s blog, and respect her language skills. In fact, calling her a “language person” was my admittedly short-form and clumsy way of referring to those skills, and asking that in this case her skills be kicked up a notch.

    Charlotte, I hope you heard my comment in that spirit, but I recognize that I was more than a little snippy. Sorry!

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