[Image: Illustration from The Curious Garden, by Peter Brown. A masculine-presenting child disguised in a trench coat, dark glasses, and a wide-brimmed hat dumps a wheelbarrow of sod and flowers on pavement while looking out for authorities.]
Quick Things You Need To Know About Unpolished Booklists
- In-progress notes sorted by topic: This is where we’ll park books touching on guerilla gardening & non-compliant gardening as a force for disruptive activism.
- Access: Usually Good Finds collections are unlocked for Collaborator+ patreon supporters. But during the Covid 19 shutdowns, I’m unlocking all bonus & sneak-peek content for folks who no longer have access to schools and libraries.
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- Also see: Community Gardening
- Also see: Manjhi Moves A Mountain – not gardening, but small steps toward terraforming outside the boundaries
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From my archives & old booklist on Guerilla Gardening:
Gardening is an act of Resistance.
In a climate of rallies, town hall protests, and boycotts, it’s easy to forget the power of getting our hands muddy and then studiously, joyfully, nurturing new hopes for the future.
Planting a seed is a civic contribution. With shovels, seeds, and watering cans, we define the landscape of our community, our nation, and our planet.
Finding a sparse, gray and hostile place and sowing a new world of life and kindness takes grit and patience. That’s something we need to remember when it feels like the world is falling apart, like the work we’re putting in isn’t getting results fast enough.
From May through November, the Earthquakes learn to garden. They learn that physically changing the earth is like changing the world – slowly. The only lasting change happens through dedication over a long, long time.
They practice waiting for seeds to sprout and fruit to ripen. They practice gently handling tender branches. They practice daily dedication. They practice enduring frustration when seeds don’t sprout and rabbits steal our hard work. They practice allyship with ladybugs and compassionate conflict with slugs. They practice non-violent battle with chipmunks and squirrels, co-inhabiting space and resources in a good-natured rivalry.
They practice hope, and eventually, in ways they don’t expect, satisfaction.
Find a hostile gray place. Plant your shovel. Change the world.
Quick & Messy Book List:
Particularly Awesome Books
- the curious garden – a boy exoscapes a gray industrial city day by day just by tending his garden. that first step is the first one in overwhelming the entire city and making everyone healthier and happier. after a while, his efforts inspire more gardener and the city tuns out great. This is great beyond gardening and we use it to discuss small tenacious steps, inspiring a movement, and general hyper-local activism. As my kids approach 6, they find this a little too simple, so best for 5 and under.
- Sidewalk Flowers (Enduring through the cracks)
- Miss Maple’s Seeds (fostering those who fall between the cracks)
- The Promise – Lost my notes on this, I’ll add them here when I find them.
- The Gorilla Gardener – Kinda didactic, was a miss with us. It hits the nail on the head for the point on how to grow things unauthorized in cracks of the city as form of resistance – to incite inspiration and change in the pursuit of anarchy (the political kind, not the kids-with-a-pinata kind), resisting and countering institutions and systems that aren’t working. But it’s not particularly well written or engaging. Much of it isn’t clear and I wish they’d go into a little more detail for folks new to anarchy (which includes most adults and all children). Claims ages 5+, but even my 7yo couldn’t stick with the story.
On My to-read list
- Tistou: The Boy with Green Thumbs – Another one I just found but haven’t had a chance to read yet. Anyone who has have thoughts?
Problematic / Books Not Worth Reading
- Miss Rumphius –
I know this is a staple favorite for Nice White Ladies, but I’m gonna have to burst your bubble on this one.Beyond the nasty indigenous stereotypes (wooden Indian mastheads – really?!), both the premise and entitlement of this entire story makes me uncomfortable.For anyone who hasn’t read it – a wealthy white woman aims to go exploring then comes home to live by the sea.But her dad tells her she must also do something to make the world more beautiful. (Sending the message that these folks have not just the right, but the obligation to leave their stamp on the world – screw ‘leave no trace,’ hello, colonialism!)So she discovers she can plant lupines all over the place. For ‘beauty’ – because apparently the land she’s invaded wasn’t pretty enough with its native plant life.Fuck no! Do you have any idea the mass environmental devastation we’ve caused around the planet from entitled colonists planting invasive shit wherever they damn please?Do you know how invasive and destructive lupines are in the northeast of Turtle Island? (where this story takes place). This asswipe (supposedly there was a ‘real’ Miss Rumphius named Hilda Edwards) did that.NO THANKS, HILDA.The only thing Rumphius did was harm the fragile ecosystem that was JUST FINE BEFORE SHE GOT HERE for the aesthetic benefit other rich white colonists.HARD NOPE on this Westward Expansion / Manifest Destiny bullshit.Rip ’em out & DECOLONIZE THE LAND!
- The Night Gardener – This is kinda like guerrilla topiary design, but it has some weird, issues with kids going off with some strange dude in the middle of the night without telling anyone. No one blinks an eye. I am SO NOT COMFORTABLE with this. I love the art of the Fan brothers, but I wouldn’t trust them anywhere near my kids if they think it’s okay to normalize this skeevy message. Not okay, predators.