Reality – Darn it!

Darning is weaving a pattern to mend a hole – how it became an expletive is a mystery to me (I’ll Google it sometime) and it’s a great lead-in to Our Heart Gardens, what it is designed to do and where the project is right now.

Our Heart Gardens is designed to mend the holes in our systems that allow people to fall through, their needs unmet, lets people be hungry and disconnected, unloved. Reality – I want to darn it!!

Donovan Cavers, City Councillor for the City of Kamloops, and I met on Thursday to discuss Our Heart Gardens. Sitting street-side at The Art We Are in downtown Kamloops, we talked about the previous evening – 20th anniversary of the Kamloops Food Policy Council. At the outstanding potluck, Laura Kalina, one of the founders and current President, had us riveted for upwards of an hour talking history, how it started from an inspiration to become the vibrant and influential organization it is today. So many diverse elements gathered to address one common goal: a better food supply for our city. I learned that Kamloops, and our KFPC, are leaders in urban food systems. Schools and cities are using books written as a by-product of the pilot programs undertaken. I was so proud.

I was proud also, sitting there in the sun with Donovan, when he said the Our Heart Gardens website is beautiful! He gave me some contacts that I’ll be following up with soon but what I think was most valuable was the realization that I need to engage the people and agencies that will be a part of the daily activities before I try to build one.  As urgently as I want to provide a place that supports the synergistic blending of the KFPC and other organizations to achieve the most best, there’s more development and refining of the vision needed before we can share the reality with the participants, the ones who will benefit most from the dream coming true.

He also said that it is a big idea and it has the potential to be world changing.  Yes!

I think our world needs changing! Change is inevitable – how we react to change is a measure of our maturity and awareness. One of the most important aspects to the change we need is redirecting some people’s energies toward cooperative living and away from trying to be a part of competitive enterprise. The corporate world does not welcome many of us and we need better things to do than beating at that door! With the masculine energy of competition we have fought this far, and now, without a good goal we will defeat each other. By integrating other cooperative and inclusive ways, we can become something new. Feminine traits of interrelating, sharing of resources, sensitivity and compassion will help to support and focus the power we have, all of us together. By respecting each other for the different abilities each has, we can fly like an eagle using both wings, with all our energy!

So, darn it, the reality will take longer than I want but it’s not me that’s driving this bus! Talk to Spirit, by whatever name you use, because the more of us who want it, the faster it will manifest.

Bless you, and all you do…
Shannon McArthur
Sunshine Sparkling on the Waters

 

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Contacts Are Being Made…

I’m finding the best way to stay on the top of the wave is to paddle like crazy! Being the only one on this paddle-board, holding the momentum is best done by spending lots of time just going over and over the same information – paddling, if you will. In any case, treading water is a better description of what’s been happening!

I spent a day on the computer applying for an annual million dollar contribution from Co-op Community Spaces that was more than half done when it all went away. Lost due to a time limit. I knew the time-out was there but it said “if inactive”, and it wasn’t inactive – I was working on it! I comfort myself that I’ll know it backwards when I get the opportunity to talk about it. I’ve since found out that there is no resurrecting it and I’ll have to start all over. I will have the answers ready before starting next time!

I’m in the process of contacting Thompson Rivers University faculty to introduce myself and the opportunity for collaboration in Our Heart Gardens. Their help in the creation will be invaluable and will provide good experience and a life-long joyful association for the students. And I think I really need to make this happen before I decide upon a location. You see, I’ve seen another place…

And it’s bigger than I thought!  It’s across the road from the Fortune Shopping Centre and has windows on three sides and has a huge expanse of pavement, next door to the RCMP detachment. Did a quick search for retail space looking to see if I could tell you more and, oh my, the RCMP space is coming available in early 2015… that’s now!  I just sent an email to North Kamloops Business Improvement Association about Our Heart Gardens, hoping they would be interested in supporting the idea of having us there. It would be ideal, with the bus loop just a property away!

I’ve been getting advice from people, telling me that I should just concentrate on getting the first Our Heart Gardens location up and running, rather than trying to create the network right away. While I understand and appreciate their concern, I wonder if their advice is right in this case. I remember when I first shared the idea with the Ladies, their response was “It sounds like Utopia!” Many of the target market live on the North Shore and, until the buses have been brought into the organization, a close location would be good for them. While involvement of students of TRU is desired, they have bus passes and can do homework while they travel. I feel it important to remember the Source of the inspiration, the fact that I’ve been guided to this all my life, and that I’m just doing my best to do what is put in front of me, as Guidance suggests. It will all come out right in the end!  Have a little faith…

Mapping Out the (Near) Future

If you have a big goal it’s good to have a plan, a map for the journey forward, and that was the purpose of my meeting today with Colin O’Leary of Venture Kamloops. Coincidentally, making a map was the final exercise in a course I’ve just completed. Kinda perfect! First let me tell you a bit about the course and then I’ll brief you on the aspects of Our Heart Gardens that Colin and I discussed, and last is something new.

Scilla Elworthy, of Rising Women Rising World, has been advisor to Peter Gabriel, Desmond Tutu and Richard Branson and is world renown as a peace builder. Her first on-line course “Rising Women Leadership Jumpstart”, through The Shift Network, came just when I needed it, knowing that I would need help in developing Our Heart Gardens past the concept stage. Scilla was so very inspiring and she laid out a course that was everything I hoped for, and more. With a wonderful group of like-minded, passionate and powerful women to lend me an ear when I need it, and their expertise too, I feel more grounded, confident, and blessed. Their accomplishments and ability, and their willingness to be open and giving are amazing and I look forward to seeing the progress of their own projects, all born from what in the world breaks their hearts.

Shannon McArthur to see Colin O’Leary – sounds like it could be Ireland, doesn’t it?  Nope! Kamloops, BC Canada, it is; where the first Our Heart Gardens WILL be located (unless Winnipeg, or another city gets theirs together first) but it won’t be tomorrow, nor in 6 months either, although I envision a time-frame of a year. Lots of work needs to be done before then, though, and here’s my list for now:

  1. Business Plan – Colin will send me his template (got it!); Leticia has offered assistance
  2. Legal structure – Community Contribution Company (C3) was suggested, a new company structure (for info go to Small Business BC and BC Cooperative Assoc offers free advisory service). Benefits include ability to sell shares. Alternative: Cooperative requiring participation of landowner, taxpayers, tradespeople, municipal government, transit authority and financing bodies
  3. Financials – Accountant c/be KPMG or ask for suggestion from Deborah Monahan @ Valley First Credit Union. Revenue streams include grants, crowd funding, contests (sale of shares too, if C3 structure is used)
  4. Location – contact Real Estate Foundation for assistance as this is primary figure required in Financials

Colin responded very positively to the KFPC presentation I shared with him, as a way to get us both on the same page. The mini-agenda I brought helped to focus the conversation on what I needed to know (I thank classmate Laticia for her guidance.) I now have templates for both a Business Plan and the Financials and will do what I can with them, confident that when I am as done as I can be, Laticia will be there for me again as she has offered her expertise (completing her doctorate, she’s in class this weekend so isn’t available to give permission for full disclosure – all in good time! I did want to say though, how much I appreciate her generous offer.)

Of course there are other parts of the path that need attention too… and in that, I have to do what I can, and then exercise a little faith. As I learned in Scilla’s course, it’s really nice to work with people who can see the dream – it’s more sharing than work! So, I need to continue to spread the idea – the right people will be inspired by the concept of Our Heart Gardens and will want to do what they can to help. While having faith is important, sitting back and taking it as it comes doesn’t feel as good as making choices and being involved – it’s rewarding and it’s FUN!

Finally, I’m not content with the content of the website! Concerned with attracting and motivating people in the best possible way, I’ll be delving deep with help from another friend (Tami Smith of The Dawning Point) who has offered to “unravel the blocks that prevent you from effectively telling your story”, a new Single Session service she’s developing that works directly at producing a big impact in sales success. Her special skills with seeing to the heart of what matters most will help me refine the website to improve its ability to sell the concept of Our Heart Gardens!

KFPC Presentation – Mission Accomplished!

It was a wonderful first “presentation to a group” of Our Heart Gardens and good connections were made that will be the foundation of what is to come. Seeds have been sown in JUMP with Glenn Hilke and Barbara, TRU students will be sharing the website and the possibilities with their instructors and peers, and everybody knows to come to the website to learn more – because there really wasn’t enough time to give them a complete picture.

The first question from the floor revealed something I wasn’t aware of. I talk about Our Heart Gardens as if it already exists, because it supports the Gardens’ existence, but it doesn’t yet. So, as happens each time, I must adjust the presentation (shown below.) I got great comments and congratulations and will follow up on all the connections and suggestions I was offered.

I almost walked out the door before making those connections, though, and I learned the presentation isn’t over when the applause stops! That’s when I need to step up and direct the energy of the sparks made in the audience. Some like to confirm what they can to do to help, others need to communicate the ideas that were inspired. Some people just want to say they enjoyed the presentation and look forward to seeing me again! How nice is that!!

I gave them a business card and the “Downtown & Four Families” section of the website, and this is what I told them:

Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you all. I’m so impressed with the things you’ve accomplished and challenges you’ve met by working together. I have a challenge I’d like your help with…

OHG is a new kind of public facility where organic produce is grown indoors, not to replace but to augment the crops already grown in the fields. The KFPC Strategic Plan includes precisely what OHG is designed for – creating food security in close-knit communities, sharing and celebrating people while they work together to feed hungry people.

In exchange for people’s work we offer healthy meals, fresh produce and bus tickets – higher demand for transit allows improvement of services and security. A network linked by transit can highlight our diversity and enable circulation. It could become a first-of-its-kind-in-the-World tourist attraction!  Vancouver, and other cities, are working on networks of community gardens but no-one has brought the labour indoors, compensates with bus tickets and uses drop-in participants!

The first Our Heart Gardens I think should be a 24/7/365 Primary facility as a sanctuary for the vulnerable and a good place to go for shift-workers, insomniacs and people in recovery.

While the City has set a Food Hub as a long term priority, in combination with OHG we have the opportunity to meet many other, on-going and short term goals including

  • increasing the volume of year-round local foods,
  • providing access to healthy local foods and
  • ways for everybody to grow food as well as
  • facilities for food processing and community kitchens.

Interest and momentum can be created and maintained by providing a wide range of things for people to do in OHG. The handout provided discusses the effect Our Heart Gardens will have on the city and the people who live here, to help you get a feel for what a difference this facility can make to all our lives.

Albert Einstein said “Problems cannot be solved with the same mind set that created them.” ―

We have problems to solve and we have to work with the resources we have. The new mind-set we need must be created by nurturing and empowering people, and cooperation is key.

We have an opportunity to engage and honour First Nations people, to learn their philosophy, knowledge of the land and skills of storytelling, ceremony, ritual and respect. They use sharing circles as a way to include everyone. Each OHG will be managed by a council elected and informed by sharing circles so everyone can be fully heard with consideration and respect. Adoption of this First Nations practice supports individuals and the community, as well as fostering the new mind-set Einstein suggested is necessary.

I have an appointment with Venture Kamloops on April 10th and the website is up and the blog will have a story about talking to you.

What I need from you is your help in creating the first Our Heart Gardens. Being first, we will follow your many successes, like Communities in Bloom, by showing the World a way for all humanity to thrive here on Mother Earth.

Thank you for your time. After the meeting I’ll be here to answer any questions you may have.

 

Something New! Four Families…

Some changes have been made on the website (ourheartgardens.com); I thought you should know!

My presentation to be made to Kamloops Food Policy Council on the 1st has to be good – and there is only 3-5 minutes available! To give enough information, a hand-out was the only way to go… and if one creates a hand-out, why not use it on the website!?  [I’ll tell you why not: it takes up too much room!! So I’m going to post it in a new post with a link from the website! Oh, the learning curve is steep!]  It’s a description of how four families, in various communities in Kamloops, could be affected by the first Our Heart Gardens.

Mom and Christa and Jane (tonight’s weekly Dinner with the Ladies) all liked it, were excited by it – said it sounded like utopia and too good to be true. I don’t think it is and it is the adventure of a life-time to make it come true! Part of what I’m planning to say on Wednesday is:

Einstein said, “Problems cannot be solved with the same mind-set that created them.”  We have problems to solve and we must work with the resources we have. The new mind-set we need must be created by nurturing and empowering people, and cooperation is key.

The Fourth Way

The Earth and Indigenous Peoples have not been respected by our culture of consumption. What we need soon won’t be available because our practices have interrupted the cycles too badly. Restoration of the Earth will take time and meanwhile, our young people need to learn the right way to do things so they don’t make the same mistakes. Learning from the people whose traditions are in harmony with the Earth is smart. Our Heart Gardens has been designed to not only include, but to honour them.

In the document “The Fourth Way, An Indigenous Contribution to Building Sustainable and Harmonious Prosperity in the Americas and Beyond, www.fwii.net, 4worlds@uleth.caby Sun Dance Chief Rueben George, Tsliel-Waututh Nation and Hereditary Chief Phil Lane Jr., Ihanktonwan Dakota and Chickasaw Nations”, it states:

“Millions of Indigenous Peoples have watched helplessly as their traditional means of livelihood were wiped out by unsustainable environmental practices used by large transnational fishing, timber, oil, and mining corporations, by plantation style agricultural operations, and by large government-subsidized agribusiness corporations usurping agricultural markets in their countries. Hundreds of thousands of Indigenous small farmers can no longer earn a basic income because of the intentional destruction of local agricultural markets through predatory global trade practices dictated by the agribusiness industry. These farmers have joined the millions of illegal immigrants flooding into the United States. When viewed through the eyes of Indigenous people, these conditions are not exaggerations; they are the unembellished facts of life.”

There have been three alternatives available to First Nations People: 1) Assimilation 2) Resignation or 3) Resistance, none of which would be good for everyone. The Fourth Way suggests a new way:

“Constructive Development – to create organized Indigenous and related social movements focused on promoting the well-being and prosperity of the people and on electing and supporting leaders who are truly responsive to the majority of the people, leaders who will not only improve education, health care, infrastructure and economic development, but will also work to create social and political “spaces” within the countries where Indigenous people reside, for true participation in an inclusive and equitable project of rebuilding nations.

This approach is not merely political in nature. It also implies a systematic reclamation and recovery of Indigenous cultural foundations, identity and language, and the re-anchoring of social, economic and political change in the spiritual and cultural values and traditional knowledge at the heart of Indigenous cultures. This approach in no way implies a retreat into the historical past, but rather it is an active engagement in the challenge of shaping the future of nations within the framework of life-preserving, life-enhancing, and sustainable values and patterns of action in harmony with all members of the human family.”

Indigenous leaders are guiding their people to right action. It’s time for the rest of us to learn right actions too. As our futures intertwine and grow together, our politics cannot remain an “us and them” struggle. Being an integral part of the land in the past, First Nations have a connection that will not be denied as long as the Land exists. They are a vital part of the future, and they are fundamental to Our Heart Gardens. When we bring the soil indoors to grow and shelter our crops and our families, asking for the help of the people who have loved the land for so long will honour their enduring commitment and give meaning to the past. Their help in creating places where life can be preserved and enhanced while we learn respectful patterns of action will help create a good future for all from the ground up.

No apology will ever be enough.  This, we can do –

Why & How – Councils & Committees

I was reminded this evening that one of the major contributing motivations for Our Heart Gardens is empowering women and helping them remember how to cooperate. Moved into “homes of our own”, many of us don’t even remember how to cook together. Community starts, I believe, around a table sharing a meal, and women have been providing that as long as we’ve been human. Yes, there are exceptions and I love that. If everybody was the same, it’d be no fun! And it’s good to know what’s expected so those of us that enjoy pushing the envelope can do so while the rest of us can relax into traditional roles, comfortably learning and sharing the skills of our Elders and ancestors.

 

In the desire to create places where we can enjoy a new type of sharing, I’ve stepped into the role of volunteer/committee member. People who understand the vision and can help steer the project through the changes of policy and approvals need to be gathered. With that in mind, I’ve attended meetings of the Kamloops Food Policy Council (KFPC) for their Strategic Plan and Kamloops City Council Advisory Committee on Urban Agriculture for the new Official Community Plan. Oh, my!

 

A slog through the quagmire of getting things done in the political arena has me shaking the cobweb dust off my shoulders. It’s been a long time since I used those pathways in my brain! I was reminded of how slow things happen. But then, like water off the edge of a cliff, it goes really fast. Wings are being readied to fly – a better alternative…

 

KFPC is a group of volunteers and representatives of government agencies and other organizations that strive to create a vibrant “food system through information sharing, food action projects and community engagement.” The vision in their Strategic Plan is addressed by Our Heart Gardens in providing a means for citizens to have access to and to produce their own food, process and distribute it in a way that supports and enhances rather than destroys ecological systems, provides resilience to climate change impacts, and food sovereignty by teaching people how to grow food. I’m hoping to speak to them at the next monthly meeting. It’s nice to be able to talk in the meeting – at the Advisory Committee I don’t have a voice.

 

Gosh it’s hard to keep quiet! But the committee was formed long before I came along and they have a mandate to achieve. I was guided gently by Carole, sitting beside me, into sharing with her so she could advise me (Thank you, Carole!) or put forward comments to the group. I learned a lot by listening and identified issues that I need to be aware of in the creation of Our Heart Gardens – zoning and property taxes are only two. Luckily there are other, more positive aspects like everything identified above for the KFPC, as it was formed to do things that couldn’t be done by the City or other government bodies.

 

There are other things that the City wants to accomplish that Our Heart Gardens are designed to do that are outside the scope of Urban Agriculture and the Food Policy Council. Social aspects will need to be reviewed, itemized and provided to the City’s Social Planning Council as time permits. Right now, I’m off to bed because tomorrow I’m volunteering at the FarmLand Connections Conference where land and farmers find each other. Should be interesting!