What 'Sustainable Community' Really Means
I finally get it. Local… community… help your neighbor… got it. Thank you.
During college we waved our local, sustainability flags. We were groomed to make designs “eco-revelatory.” This meant to reveal the natural processes of the systems around us through our thoughtful and sensitive designs. Seriously, this term was used on a daily basis.
We spent our days devising drawings that would persuade people out of their cars and into denser communities. We used site design and traffic patterns to force people to have more contact with fellow humans. Smaller and smaller footprints were the obsession- growies on every surface, producing edibles for all. Less heat island, more tree canopy! Restore that plot of land t something that looks wild.
At one point I brought in apples to my fellow students which were promptly rejected for their unorganic-ness. I understood then and I understand now that these things have some importance, but have always been a little less passionate about it than some. Maybe it all seemed too big a beast to tackle.
After graduation, I realized that money is a challenge in all building projects. Educating people who don’t care about this stuff is a daunting hurdle and often a waste of time. Sometimes you don’t really want to talk to the creepy guy next door. Sometimes we just want something pretty to look at. Sometimes, we just want a place to rest our arse without having the bench educate us about the life cycle of a tree.
AND I realized something big. I don’t WANT to buy local if the product is inferior or the process is beyond my hassle tolerance threshold. So there.
In landscape design, staying local is pretty easy with outstanding results. In floral design, however, it gets a bit more difficult. To be brief, local flowers typically have less pesticides, herbicides, etc. because if you use flowers and plants that like it here, they will probably grow pretty easily with minimal effort. Local flowers also waste less fuel, packaging, and refrigeration. Seems like a no-brainer but seasons, quantity limitations, expensive labor, and the fleeting life of a flower make it difficult.
We have fantastic flowers and foliage year ’round these parts but getting the info about what people have, how much, and how to get it to me from (most likely) many sources?… Phew, challenging. Also, that process yields prices that many people aren’t willing to pay.
So, imagine my JOY when I learned of the Seattle Wholesale Grower’s Market. Now, this is not available to the public, but I just want you to know, these fine people have taken most of the challenge away, and I couldn’t be happier.
We have fantastic flowers and foliage year ’round these parts but getting the info about what people have, how much, and how to get it to me from (most likely) many sources?… Phew, challenging. Also, that process yields prices that many people aren’t willing to pay. So, imagine my JOY when I learned of the new Seattle Wholesale Grower’s Market a few months ago. Now, this is not available to the public, but I just want you to know. These fine people have taken most of the challenge away, and I couldn’t be happier.
Finally, there are resources all in one place to help me piece together bigger projects with flowers and greens that are special and local. Two things I can get passionate about. This place has rooms full of people to geek out about flowers with. What’s more is that these people have given me a bit of that passion that everybody else, so many years ago seemed to have more of. I now have the drive to make sure that I do my best to make these people stick around. Not because they are nice people (which they are), and not because all neighbors should be supported because they are next to us, but because they have something I want in the way I want it. These people are now my peeps and I have a strange protective feeling about it. I kinda just want to tell everyone about these guys.
And that got me thinking. THAT is what I want people to think about ME and MY services. How does that happen?
And then another interesting thing happened. I go to a local coffee shop near my workshop on a hill not because they are there but because they have good coffee, nice people, good food, a comfy atmosphere, and toe-tapping music on the weekends. If I have meetings or guests, I bring them there. Just the other day I was asked by the owner of Brown’s coffee in Shoreline to do some weekly floral arrangements. No problem since I am there practically every day sipping on a tasty beverage. And THAT led to meeting other interesting people in my neighborhood who happen to love what I do. Well dang me. These people are my peeps now, too. What is going on?
The moral of the story? You’ve heard it before so many times… Do what you can in a way that’s meaningful to you. Because really, if I’m going to be doing small things I can really rally behind for the rest of my life, that’s a lot of sustainable impact. So, in an effort to keep this community love thing growing and healthy, I will be more alert to opportunities to promote and connect in ways that are important to me. And please, if know of ways that I can provide you with something YOU want in a way that you want it so that I can become one of YOUR peeps, don’t hesitate to let me know.