Tag Archives: Victory Garden Initiative

post-election: keep hope alive

only-when-the-last-tree-has-diedand-the-last-river-has-been-poisonedand-the-last-fish-has-been-caughtwill-we-realize-we-cant-eat-money“Hope is a verb
with its shirtsleeves rolled up.”
– David Orr

Half of America, we are feeling what you’re feeling.

And we’re thinking what you’re thinking.

And we’re scared of the future you’re scared of.

 

Today, we don’t want to extend the echo chamber that is social media, so there will be no predictions or justifications here. We also certainly aren’t expert prognosticators about the repercussions of this current president-elect situation, though we have sure talked to a lot of wise women who have taught us all about planning and working and hoping and making dreams reality.

Although we carry heaviness in our hearts (perhaps to post about another day), today we share a few reasons to hope. No matter who we are, we all have reasons to hope. Here are some of our reasons, and we would love to hear yours in the comments!

  1. Change starts with the people, not the president. Hello civil rights, women’s suffrage, Standing Rock protests, GMO labeling, job opportunities for people with disabilities, life-saving drugs becoming increasingly affordable—I could go on and on and on and on. And on. Our voices get heard when we get loud, especially in the right moments to make change—and make history. (Just yelling all the time? Not so much.)
  2. Our president is only one person, surrounded by checks and balances even his or her power can’t eliminate in four years—or ever.
  3. The House of Representatives gets re-elected every two years; lots of local changes happen much more quickly than our president. Did you get passionate about this election for the first time, or do you vote in every single election in your community? Either way—great. Keep that election energy moving and don’t forget to cast your ballot next time and every time. Or better yet: Run for office!
  4. Organizations like the Sierra Club, NAACP, ACLU, National Immigration Law Center, Southern Poverty Law Center, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Boys & Girls Clubs, Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF), Emily’s List, Union of Concerned Scientists, Victory Garden Initiative, and oh so many others exist. And they will continue to exist, with our support. These teams of incredibly hard-working, passionate, intelligent human beings give us local, national and international platforms to be heard, collaborate with like minds, and work toward change with an excellent team.
  5. We get to choose how we treat our families, our coworkers and our planet, continuing to live out love in our daily lives.
  6. Freedom of speech remains a core tenet of our nation.
  7. Younger generations have a more progressive lean, and Millennials have recently surpassed Baby Boomers as the “nation’s largest living generation.” Knowing people on both sides of the aisle in our Millennial age group, this fact alone gives us hope.
  8. We have four years to plan and scheme and ORGANIZE. (Cry break: over.)
  9. Change continues with our efforts! That space that feels like it was carved right out of our spirits and stomped on? Now, we get to fill it right back up with hope and light and love and compassion and all the good things that we can shine throughout the world—one interaction, one choice, one moment at a time.

No matter who is president, the hashtag is right on: #LoveTrumpsHate. Every. Single. Time.

We started on a quote, so let’s end on another, from a book that might just be the inspiration you need to keep moving:

“When we love,
we always strive to become better than we are.
When we strive to become better than we are,
everything around us becomes better too.”
– Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

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fruity nutty affair 2016

Welcome to the Fruity Nutty Affair!

American chestnuts, peaches and a sweet cherry, oh my!

Last Saturday, Feb. 20, was Victory Garden Initiative’s aptly-named Fruity Nutty Affair. This is Alysse’s big evening she pours her heart into every year, and it was my first time being able to go! The Affair is all about raising the money needed to plant five urban orchards in Milwaukee communities. VGI’s goal with the Fruity Nutty Five Contest: To protect the environment, improve public health, and strengthen their community, all through growing fruits and nuts in the city—where food is needed most. In the past, neighborhoods have won and planted apples, pears and paw-paws in their front and back yards. Churches, schools and community centers have also been awarded orchards, connecting their missions with food and where it comes from—the outdoors! One of the coolest ones to me: the grocery store that planted their trees along the sidewalk, welcoming all passersby to pick some fruit on their way in. Continue reading

our first pwp party!

Last Thursday, we hosted our first-ever real-life PWP party! We have talked with each other and the women we interview about bringing everyone together for more than two years now, so we finally set a date and made it happen. June 30, oh, you were a good day.

It was so exciting and fun to bring together nearly 40 people—including women we’ve featured from Milwaukee, friends, and panachies-to-be—in one of our favorite Milwaukee spots that we also happen to have featured: The Ruby Tap. Brooke, Sarah and their staff graciously hosted our gathering and put together the most delicious cheeses, charcuterie, olives, almonds and popcorn to pair with our glasses of rosé, pinot and more. Yum yum yum—same thing next week?IMG_8865

Top Five Moments: Continue reading

meet the mcginnitys: laying a strong foundation for milwaukee’s future

A few weeks ago, I was very excited to read in The Atlantic how a person can make a great difference in the world. This area of study assesses “effective altruism.”

Effective altruism: a philosophy and social movement which applies evidence and reason to determining the most effective ways to improve the world

Betsy, Annie and Megan

The McGinnitys use a systems approach to their foundation and would love to incubate newer, smaller nonprofits, and then help them along a pipeline to midrange and eventually larger foundations for funding. They’re on a quest for the answers: “What difference does this make? How do we know?”

My heart broke a teeny bit when I read what these scientists believe about how to make the biggest difference. Work for a nonprofit that aligns with your life goals? Nah. Instead, they say to get a job that makes great money and donate (a significant percentage) to possibly even fund an entire salary. That’s how you do it. Well, shoot.

I looked into a bit of what I’ll call “actual altruism”: 95.4 percent of Americans donated to nonprofits in 2014, a 7.1 percent increase from 2013. The average person donates about 2-3ish percent of their income to nonprofits, depending on how much money they make. That is generous, kind and necessary, and it makes me think of Jazz when she said how nonprofits and other organizations create the infrastructure and resources that enable policies to actually get boots on the ground. These organizations and their donors are vital.

Some people have a little extra panache when it comes to making the biggest difference in their community. The McGinnity family of Milwaukee—grown daughters Megan, Betsy, Annie and Katie, and parents Tom and Maggie—launched the McGinnity Family Foundation in winter 2014. Continue reading

meet jazz: alternative agriculture advocate in columbus

Whenever new friends discover our blog for the first time, they invariably ask: How do you find these people?

Jazz Planting a Tree

How does Jazz stay disciplined being back in school full time? “Being my own supervisor, all my time is my own, and I pretty much work during the day like a normal person,” she says. “I work from home, so I’m eating constantly.” I feel ya, Jazz.

Here’s one story: Back in 2012, I was working for Reader’s Digest as a copy editor. I loved my team (like Deb!), but I was trying to figure out how to unite my passions for the environment, health, animal welfare, social justice and community into the next step of my career. The food system was the place I thought I could blend all those things and use my skills to make a difference, so I reached out to Jazz Glastra about Victory Garden Initiative’s (VGI) Food Leader Certificate Program. On a chilly winter night, she met me in the Saint’s Snug at County Clare Irish Pub in Milwaukee, which will forever hold a special place in my heart. Jazz told me all about how I’d learn to grow food, organize groups of people, and make a difference starting in my own community. I signed up for the program the next day.

Two and a half years later, I’m now working full-time at VGI, and Jazz has moved on to pursue her Master’s of Science in Environment and Natural Resources with a specialization in Rural Sociology at the Ohio State University. I miss her more or less constantly, so I’m so glad to share part of her story with you.

Jazz went to high school in an agricultural area of Washington state and hated it—the FFA kids in their big trucks blared country music and made it seem like farming was about not caring. After graduation, she went off to Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, planning to get into environmental action or law—until she arrived. At Kenyon, Jazz totally fell in love with religious studies and became disillusioned with the policy world. Before she veered too far, though, she started her first farming internship at an organic farm in Ohio during her sophomore year. It was there that she became intrigued with agriculture and the local food movement. Continue reading

update: it’s the great milwaukee victory garden blitz!

Alysse says this year's best record so far is 15 gardens built by one team on Monday morning. "So far on Tuesday when we start we’ll have installed over 207—that's a little behind, but we’ll catch up. We’re doing over 500 beds, and still have to fill most of them with soil. We started with 40 garden beds in one day in 2009 and are now up to 500 in two weeks." Here are Gretchen and Alysse on either side of the Wisconsin senator and representative.

Alysse says this year’s best record so far is 15 gardens built by one team on Monday morning. “So far on Tuesday when we start we’ll have installed over 207—that’s a little behind, but we’ll catch up. We’re doing over 500 beds and still have to fill most of them with soil. We started with 40 garden beds in one day in 2009 and are now up to 500 in two weeks.” Here are Gretchen and Alysse on either side of the Wisconsin senator and state representative.

“We believe growing our own food will create a more sustainable, community-based, socially just food system than what we’re currently offered.” —Alysse Gear

The Blitz has begun! This week was the start of Victory Garden Initiative’s Great Milwaukee Victory Garden Blitz. The team has planned for months and gathered tons of volunteers to help install 500 garden beds in yards, schools and businesses across the county. Continue reading

meet gretchen: changing the food system in milwaukee

Gretchen Mead with Panache

Another awesome Gretchen win: She got her children’s school to stop serving chocolate milk at every meal and snack. “Part of what was astounding to me in the municipality where I live was the sort of unquestionable and accidental institutional racism occurring through the food system. It’s not intentional, but people don’t consider in a community like Shorewood that most of the low-income people come from the inner city, with a high and growing rate of diabetes within African-Americans. Students come here on the food program and have access to chocolate milk up to four times a day! Each has the sugar equivalent of a soda of the same size.”

“Today is going to be chaotic.

“We are trying to do a very big job, so if it’s not happening exactly how you thought it might, just go with it.

Continue reading