onward, upward and inward

Early 2015 was a difficult time for me, with the Bad Job at peak misery and Good Job still only a blip on the horizon. I looked to this blog, which I started back in 2013, as a solace. Something that could remind me that I had something to offer the world – namely my passion for whole, healthy foods, urban homesteading and food justice. I never looked to it to provide an income. It was mostly to share what I do, share how I use my CSA ingredients (and how much I love being a CSA subscriber) and try to create a community.

A friend once used the metaphor that we all are a gas stove, with the many parts of our life on the different burners. When you turn the heat up on one, the intensity of the flame is lessened on the others. There’s only so much gas to go around. With Good Job beginning six months ago this week and me commuting daily, my work burner has been on high for awhile now. My health and exercise are a priority that take time in the form of cooking and running, both burners that need to stay lit. There’s the everyday responsibilities that I like to call Adulting. And that’s not including people and relationships and other hobbies like reading. Months ticked by and I found that this blog had not only been shoved off the stove, but the contents had congealed and were no longer appetizing to me.

I look back on the summer and the garden was disappointing. I didn’t have a lot of time for careful tending and though we managed to preserve some things, it wasn’t optimal. I was lucky to get my CSA unpacked and stored each week, let alone take photos of it. I have many things I want to change for next year’s season, but that won’t include writing in this space anymore. At least not for the forseeable future.

I thought I would be disappointed to walk away from a site I so desperately put my 5 a.m.s into for so long. But it’s really okay. From day 1, I’ve never had the capacity to be a full time blogger and to nurture the community I so desperately wanted to create. I hope that in writing here I’ve given people an idea for dinner or encouraged them to be brave and try something new, whether that’s brewing kombucha, keeping chickens or just trying a weird vegetable. I’m going to keep the archives up, mostly for my own benefit when I need to remember how to make croutons.

Sometimes I get the itch to write or to speak out into the void, though. So I am starting a Tiny Letter. You can subscribe by clicking that link. No guarantees about how often I will send one or what it will be about. Probably the same kinds of things I would write about here, but never forced. Something inspired me to write one tonight, which is why I came here to close this door. I have other gardens to tend.

Whether you join me at the Tiny Letter or not, thanks for reading and helping me keep this little safe space alive for as long as I did.

All my best,

Joanna

something that’s not about vegetables or gardens

I started this blog about 18 months ago to have an outlet to write about the things I’m passionate about – the things that I wish filled my days instead of only just whatever free time I can manage to devote to it. So most of the time, it’s gardens and urban farming, CSAs and food justice. Backyard chickens and canning jars – the stuff that’s in my profile.

But I’ve tried this week to think about what the next thing was I should write about. And every time I try to find the words, I keep coming back to Ferguson. It’s a hurdle my mind can’t leap over right now. I don’t want to hide behind “but I just write about vegetables.”

So if you’re here for vegetables and gardens, check in with me Thursday. Today I just need to write something else.

I watch as people across the country film themselves dumping ice on their heads to “raise awareness” for ALS, learning really only about what people look like when they dump a bucket of ice water on their heads. Yes, yes, they’ve raised some money for research, and it’s a horrendous disease and a good cause. But while the nation distracts itself with a viral video craze, Ferguson is self-destructing. 

Maybe we can’t bear to look at what’s happening in Ferguson because it shines too much of a spotlight on our own fear and ignorance. It’s easy to support things like research for diseases. It’s much harder to look at the photos and videos of what’s happening in Ferguson and have to face the fact that racism is a cancer that has had a grip on America since before it was America. Where are the ice bucket videos for that disease?

How many more black men and women must die at the hands of militant law enforcement officers who shoot first and ask questions later? Do you remember the story of Renisha McBride, who was shot and killed for walking up onto someone’s porch? If I walked onto a neighbor’s porch, someone would assume I was bringing zucchini or asking if they’d move their car. Surely in a country founded on the principles of freedom and justice for all, the freedom to walk up to a door, unarmed and knock, should be upheld.

There are many studies that support the fact that black people are disproportionately targeted by the justice system and law enforcement. Better and more qualified voices than mine have spoken those words. Lots of data, lots of facts. 

But beyond the hard numbers, we know in our hearts that if Michael Brown had been a white woman like me, he would still be alive. He died in a street in Missouri that could be any street. Mine, for instance. Yours. 

There are so many things to say. About freedom of the press and freedom to gather in peaceful protect. About the militarization of police and the danger of focusing on a handful of looters. It’s easy to feel like I shouldn’t have a voice in this because I’m white and would honestly answer no, if asked if I was racist. 

But that just won’t do. If you’re an American and a human, you should have something to say about this. Some examining to do. I’m not convinced that any one of us has the right to say “I’m not racist” because racist assumptions are ingrained in our culture so deeply that we don’t even realize we’re part of them and that we perpetuate them. 

I work in a predominantly black neighborhood and I’ve heard many people make jokes about the surroundings – you know, “those” people always hanging out in the park. With the unspoken wink. Why have I let those comments have a voice and kept my own silent? Just using the phrase “those people” means we’ve crossed the line. And that’s just one example. We let so much go by us without saying a word.

We can tweet about Ferguson and pass around links to the news, and that’s a good thing. We need to be reading and understanding what’s going on and thinking about the concept of systemic racism and how we got to this place. We need to hold our leaders accountable. We need to support the journalists there and press for the truth – not cable news spin. After all, knowledge dispels ignorance.

Think about how your words contribute to a larger dialogue in this country. When you hear someone making office cooler commentary, turn inward and reach for your empathy. Don’t hide behind your skin color – find your voice in those moments and speak. For the people in Ferguson and for all of us.