Promoting Sustainability in Style
This is an ongoing series about Freetown Farm.
It can start with just one. When everyone gets involved, that's when one idea can blossom into a solution.
After taking a few visits, it was clear as day that Freetown Farm (The Community Ecology Institute) was a welcoming safe place rich with vivid color and promise. With its deep history and uplifting story of optimism and resilience, there is no doubt that the farm is integral to community action against climate change.
At the forefront of its creation is Dr. Chiara D'Amore, the leading catalyst in the buildup of Freetown and an avid advocate for a green, sustainable future.
"If it's a story of a beautiful, abundant future where the community comes together, and you have children's dragonflies and some flowers everywhere... people feel welcome and feel like there's a place for them," D'Amore mentioned. People tend to shy away from tackling large scale issues because of feelings of hopelessness--when there's hope attached, then there is a vision to strive towards.
There was vibrant artwork decorating the farm grounds and wooden swings attached to tree branches--not only was the farm a place of education and environmental awareness, but it was a place to relax and simply enjoy the sunny weather and cloudless skies. Rather than solely dwelling on the crisis, D'Amore wanted the farm to act as a motivator to participate in the solution.
Freetown Farm provides an opportunity for people of all different backgrounds to unite and share the same motivation: "If we could help people come together in the garden--here's the NAACP garden, the garden down there is the HopeWorks garden, which is the domestic violence survivors support group, and The Third, which supports women of color entrepreneurs," D'Amore listed. "And I think that's, that's a big part of the solution, right? Then teaching people how do you grow food? How do you work together in a community? How, if you need a table do you build it? When something breaks, how do you fix it?"
Nature and humanity can thrive together--tending to the environment is not only beneficial for nature, but healthy for the human body and mind. People can learn necessary practices, such as growing food and repairing objects, all of which promote renewability and a sustainable future.
Sometimes, the answer is not so complex. There is a lot to learn from the past, and despite the changing times, our roots still run deep: "I think the path to a healthy future includes honoring and sustaining the behaviors, knowledge and skills that helped humanity to flourish for hundreds of thousands of years," D'Amore reflected. "We are meant to live in connected, supportive communities. It is important, for our mental and physical well-being, that we know how to do things like grow and cook some fresh food, plant some (native) flowers and trees, and share our experiences and abilities in support of collective needs. That is why it is the mission of CEI to cultivate communities where people and nature thrive together and we are working to make Freetown Farm a diverse place of common ground for our community."
The gardens present the opportunity for visitors to get their hands dirty and work towards a project greater than themselves. There are many natural areas nearby that offer the same restorative, peaceful ambience Freetown Farm has, but not all of them enable people to "lend a helping hand, gain some knowledge and go home with something that [they] can take with [them]."
To be continued...