Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Naive Child

Work and artwork...

At Participation Park i have been able to make working my art, it has allowed my artwork to work not just for me but for others too. So rather than thinking about gardening as only a physical or ecological process, I would like to think about it as an artistic process. The entire act of my bodies work in cohesion with the land that I touch with my hands, my general demeanor and openness towards others, my expressions, the making of each thrash with the pickaxe or each push with the shovel becomes a dutiful and passionate act that i treat with the same respect that I would a drawing or a film of mine. To completely devote myself to the work, so that it becomes an art.

Doing something and then thinking about it differently from how it is… There is a great positive energy in Participation Park, it is a very inspirational force and a great atmosphere to work in but what negative forces might also be present. I like to think about this often, not to be a pessimist, much the opposite, so in order to attain a better understanding of Participation Park’s role and function within itself and its community, thinking about all of its purposes openly and within the history of its site. I live three blocks from Participation Park, yet my home is not part of its community...

Digging at Participation Park I notice myself staring at my hands. Thinking about my back, wanting to correct my posture, use the right muscles so as not to hurt myself. I look around at others. People are bent down, hunched over, squatting, hammering, and completely engrossed within their activity. I have never seen people more devoted to their duty. These people are dedicated. It must be something about the earth, an interaction with the processes of nature, the ability to nurture, to create, to give to.

I think about the great sense of satisfaction I receive from using my body in a way that feels foreign. Having to learn new positions and motions. Feeling pain and sweat, an exhaustion devoted to other. It’s not the same exhaustion that I receive from playing sports or even from working on my own projects. Its not even necessarily about the community, its about engaging with life because even though I know something will grow once I have planted the seeds and done all the work and watered it, I know that I am still going to be completely amazed and unbelieving when I watch this thin green stalk produce a plump tomato that I can eat and that is good for me. Like Roy said, its Magic.

Quietness can be seen in everyone’s faces working. A deep concentration, maybe people are talking to themselves in their heads, analyzing their problems or thinking about what they will do after class. Maybe these faces are daydreaming, wandering in distant lands or completely drawing a blank, engrossed within the pattern of steps and strains their body is committing on top of the soil they work. Eyes are still.

Even the low muttered conversations are somewhat impersonal and polite, at least indirect, as bodies continue to work, their faces aimed downward.

Participation Park facilitates these needs. I feel better everyday I work there, hoping that I won’t stop once the class has ended and that I might start my own garden. I feel glad just to be part of the cause. There doesn’t seem to be any ego or heroism to the labor, it feels just and selfless, but on the other hand maybe gardening is purely for the self, it has very therapeutical attributes. Perhaps I am indulging too much on my own motivations, but I like to feel good about the work that I do.

There was a point where I would have felt uncomfortable being in the neighborhood that Participation Park is in, but Participation Park allowed me to understand better its location and I have come to walking its streets very comfortably. I probably would have never gotten to that point if it weren’t for gardening. Participation Park gave me a purpose, a cause to be there. I feel like a na├»ve child saying this but perhaps if there were more gardens around the city, the city would become a better, safer place. Gardens create destinations for people to go to, not tourists or suburban commuters, but locals. Gardens attract the people who live around them and bring them together.

1 comment:

  1. Very beautiful post. I think you've captured a lot of urban gardener's thoughts here. It has occurred to me that one of the boarded up rowhouses around Participation Park probably isn't suitable for living, but might make a great home for mushrooms and/or compost "tables" to raise red wiggler worms (many people ask me where to get them & it would be great to have a Baltimore City source). Both could definitely bring in some money for the community as well. I'd love to discuss! baltimorediy.blogspot.com

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