On a recent walk to the market, my daughters and I were struck, not for the first time, by the generosity of our neighbors. Free lemons in front of one house, geranium cuttings in front of another. But the biggest score was a lovely wooden kitchen chair, luckily just a couple blocks from home. We promptly headed to Friedman’s and picked out a nice creamy color for it, and while waiting for the first coat to dry, we planted the geraniums along with a few kale and chard starts. It felt so good to create something new with someone else’s giveaway, to enhance our home with very little expense, to show my daughters that even the relatively simple task of painting a small piece of furniture takes focus and patience.
Putting together this first issue of the year has me thinking about the convergence of persistence and patience. As I researched my article about compost and waste diversion, I was disappointed to learn that it’ll be a year until it’s mandated that all apartment complexes offer composting services to their tenants. Why can’t it just happen now?
But we know that real systemic change takes constant effort and plenty of time. Gathered in these pages are stories of people who embody the long-game approach—like our featured artist Andrew Carruthers, who is months into his project of building from scratch a violin from locally sourced materials, and our featured farmer Sarah Silva, who, along with several other ranchers, has formed a co-op to establish a more humane, local meat-processing facility. The good folks at Landpaths are celebrating the 10-year anniversary of their Vamos Afuera! program to make outdoor spaces more accessible to our Spanish-speaking community, and Green Mary is more than two decades into her mission to keep recyclables and organic matter out of the landfill.
“If I peeked into that trash can to see all that doesn’t belong in there, it would probably be discouraging,” admitted Green Mary during our interview. “But when I look at all the progress that’s been made in the last 20 years, I’m incredibly hopeful.”
As we head into spring, we are all acutely aware that it’s been a full year of pandemic life. An entire year since my girls have had recess, since I’ve listened to the pencil scratching of my students in the classroom, since I’ve seen my mother. Most of us are fed up and fatigued, with good reason. And yet, we continue to adapt, to do what we can, to advocate where we must, and, always, to hope.
Here’s to the vibrant promise of springtime (and vaccines)—to the slow and steady growth of the seeds we plant. May we all find the resolve to continue to do the work.
Jess D. Taylor editor