With the growing season drawing to a close, the Southside Community Gardens (SCG) project has scheduled end-of-the-season work parties at two of our community gardens in Southside Bethlehem. On Saturday, October 2, from 9-11 a.m., there will be a work party at Ullman Park, which is located at the intersection of Sassafras Street and 378 as 378 begins the climb up South Mountain toward Center Valley. Then, on Sunday, October 3, from 2-4 p.m., there will be a work party at the Maze Garden, which is located at the intersection of 3rd and New Streets on Bethlehem’s Southside. These work parties will be an opportunity to straighten the gardens and to put them to rest for the season. Tidying the gardens now will also be a great way to begin preparing the beds for next year, while enabling group members, gardeners, and interested volunteers to come together and begin planning for the spring of 2011.

It is no surprise that our first year included a mixture of successes and failures. Coming together to mark the close of the season will serve as a way to share our experiences, learn from what we did wrong as well as what we did right, and discuss what we can do better in the future. With the beds in place and certain problems addressed, we want to be sure and build on SCG’s first year, ensuring that these gardens are a part of the fabric of the Southside community for years to come. Working together to straighten the gardens should be a very productive and energizing way to close the season.

Volunteers are welcome and eagerly invited, as we hope to begin the process of building interest and momentum for 2011. Feel free to stop by at any point during either work day to join us in working to establish a network of community gardens in Southside Bethlehem. These work parties will be a great opportunity to learn more about our project and become involved as we start thinking about next year. If you have tools or extra work gloves, please bring them, as we will surely find a good use for them.

To learn more, ask questions, or get directions, contact us at <southsidecommunitygardens@gmail.com>.

Since these work days fall on the same weekend as October’s First Friday, we will not be able to put the same time and energy into organizing our monthly potluck at the Maze Garden. DJ Arm 18, however, has kindly offered to take charge of this month’s activities; he will again be spinning records in the garden, beginning at approximately 6 p.m. on Friday, October 1. If you are out and enjoying the First Friday festivities on the Southside on what will hopefully be a beautiful autumn evening, we hope you have time to stop by the Maze Garden. And don’t hesitate if you would like to bring a dish or beverage to share; even though the SCG project won’t be able to organize a formal potluck, nothing would speak more clearly to our growing presence on the Southside this year than if the community came together to share food, listen to music, and visit in a more informal, spontaneous, and, dare I say, organic way.

We hope to see you soon!

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Breena Holland, an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Lehigh, and a member of the university’s Environmental Initiative, asked us to share this link to PolicyLink’s home page, which includes information about community gardening and related issues. PolicyLink is a national research and action institute committed to advancing economic and social equity. The institute strives to contribute to the creation of sustainable communities of opportunity, where everyone participates and prospers. If successful, these communities offer access to quality jobs, affordable housing, good schools, transportation, and the benefits of healthy food and physical activity. Guided by the belief that those closest to the nation’s challenges are central to finding solutions, PolicyLink relies on the wisdom, voice, and experience of local residents and organizations. They have coined the phrase “Lifting Up What Works” as a way to focus attention on how people are successfully using local, state, and federal policy to create conditions that benefit everyone, especially those in low-income communities and communities of color. PolicyLink is guided by the firm belief that equity – just, fair, and green inclusion – must be the basis of all policy decisions. Take a few minutes to check out the information available at their web page, as their work is instructive for the issues we are trying to address on Bethlehem’s Southside, as well as in the nation as a whole. Thanks, Breena, for sharing!

There’s a very progressive piece of legislation in Congress that could make a huge difference to the country and to Bethlehem and the city’s southside.

City Parks Director Ralph Carp, down in Washington, D.C., early last week at a high-profile national conference on building green infrastructure, spoke with Representative Allyson Schwartz – D (PA), who is co-sponsoring a new bill that would identify 80 small- to medium-sized cities and distribute $120 million for promoting community greening initiatives. Bethlehem – with more and more being done already by the City and various community groups in the area of green and sustainable development – could benefit directly from the legislation if it’s passed into law.

When Ralph asked Allyson Schwartz what he could do to help, she said, “WRITE IN SUPPORT.”  So please take a look at the bill and, if you find it promising, WRITE IN SUPPORT.

Here’s a brief summary: 4/30/2009 – Introduced.
Green Communities Act – Directs the Secretary of Commerce, through the Economic Development Administration, to make grants to municipalities to promote community greening initiatives (defined as programs increasing economic development through environmental improvements). Directs the Secretary to select 80 municipalities to receive grants. Requires an eligible program partner to develop and plan such an initiative, which may include revitalizing municipal parks and public spaces, tree plantings, green roof construction, and vacant lot management. Directs the Secretary to make grants to, or enter into contracts with, five nonprofit organizations to provide technical assistance and training to eligible program partners in developing, planning, implementing, and assessing initiatives.

More information, including the whole bill, is here.

Contact information:
Representative Allyson Schwartz – D (PA)
*Philadelphia Office*
7219 Frankford Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19135
Phone: 215-335-3355
Fax: 215-333-4508

Or simply click here to write her using the convenient form at her web page.

If anyone has further ideas as to what can be done to advance this bill through Congress (teachers out there – how about getting your students to write?) please let me know.

John Pettegrew
jcp5@lehigh.edu
610-390-8970