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Cultivating Community vs. Attention

When the pandemic hit in the United States, several people started gardens. It helped that being outside was one of the few ways to avoid infection, and soon people were swapping pictures and discussing planting techniques. When the lockdown ended, several people went back to their regularly scheduled events. Gardening ceased to be a topic worth discussing as everyone flew on vacations and started consuming again. So few people acquired harvests that no one learned the truth: cultivating a long-term garden is challenging, while getting attention is easy.

One element of gardening that not nearly enough people considered is climate change. Hotter temperatures require further water, different nutrients and other elements that need special attention. Think of it this way: do a desert and a bayou look the same? However, because no one actually considered seasonal variations and droughts–and thought they could maintain “healthy” lawns–no one took the lessons from the experiences. People are still behaving as they did before the lockdown while the effects of climate change increase.

If examining the element of a community garden, that requires even more examination, because the concept is more complex. People would be on different watering schedules, maybe people would be responsible for different plants based on affinity, but the point would be a group efforts. With a self-centered society, almost nowhere had successful community gardens because they became tasks for overworked groundskeepers. Few people realized that planting a garden would make a community responsible for its success. As a result, many gardens yield nothing and serve for social media posts, not food.

It will be difficult to recalibrate society to realize how shared responsibility works. The era of failing accountability means that so many people have never understood what it means to make a mistake, and repair the damage. A community garden takes cultivation and effort, but it remains to be seen if any urban communities are capable of shifting priorities.

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