Thursday, May 20, 2010

Inglewood Community Garden Thrives with Art, Culture & Music!

Inglewood, California  Written by Ginger Van Hook May 20, 2010
        Inglewood Community Garden is a dream students at Morningside High School have realized today with the help of Inglewood City Council member, Ralph L. Franklin of District 4, Teachers and Mentors, Miss Roshondra Woods, World History Teacher, Mr. Shawn Stanton at Morningside High School with Mr. D'Artagnan Scorza, Director at The Social Justice Learning Institute, and Mr. Sirls, the Principal of Morningside High School. Photography Ginger Van Hook, 2010
For some of the students, it was hard to believe that these beautiful green corn leaves had come from all this dirt and gravel, but the miracle on Yukon and 107th Street in Inglewood was in full bloom. A student by the name of Jazz told the audience that she has been disheartened at first to see that this was a big empty lot with what seemed endless rocks. Then the students started clearing the land and putting their hearts and souls into the earth and the soil responded to their efforts to grow everything from tomatoes to chilies, jalapenos, lettuce, squash as well as herbs like parsley and oregano too.

'Jazz' told us about the transformation of the garden and the friendships that she had made. She explained how there was a new community where before there had been an empty space. The audience cheered for the success of the students and there was a heightened sense of community achievement in the air. There was a slight breeze coming from the ocean that brushed the leaves of the  tomatoes and the peppers ever so slightly. The sun beat down upon the earth and music filled the air. Musicians played the guitar and percussion rhythms with their hands and their bodies moved to the beat. Guests were invited to take a water bottle from the center of the garden and in ceremonious ritual to bless the land with the names of their ancestors. I watered a patch of tomatoes and recalled my grandparents in the past. It was hard to remain objective. I was involved. I was now a part of this new blessing upon the community.  I was no longer a reporter, witnessing for the writing of a story, I was pulled into the land, the dirt, the rocky earth and right into the story, taken in by the aroma of fresh tomato leaves and the scent of strawberry flowers and consequently, the encouragement of artistic, poetic, talented new friends.

D'Artagnan ScorzaDirector for The Social Justice Learning Institute 
said his students are working on a Food Initiative

 Mr. Sirls, the Principal of Morningside High School, gave the students and supporters encouragement then went over to the wall and autographed his hand print in green.
Mr. Sirl leaves his mark on the community garden wall.

Janet Simmons read her poem that she wrote for the Inglewood Community Garden:

I dedicate...
I dedicate...
my words,
my voice,
my sound,
and my choice...
of speech
I speak of here.
I dedicate...
I dedicate...
what I have seeked here
throughout, without and within this garden
I dedicate...
I dedicate...
my rough hands
and my
rock indented knees
my wind tormented hair 
the dirt infected breeze
that flows through this garden
like a stream of music through my ears
When it comes down to it
this would not mean as much
without you, me, us
I dedicate myself to you.

There were cooking demonstrations and watermelon slices.

The Los Angeles Times came to cover the event and I captured Glenn Koenig working in earnest covering the tree planting ceremony. This Photo is by Ginger Van Hook, but at least four or five reporters were on scene to witness this miracle transforming strangers into friends, and smiles turning lives into a tight knit community bonding over vegetables and issues of social justice, friendship and healthy meals...All good things going on in the City of Inglewood!

Julie Prejean a Forestry Senior Manager for TREE PEOPLE 
came to support the garden opening and to donate and help plant  a special tree. 
She told her eager audience of new gardeners that they could choose its name.

City Council Member Ralph L. Franklin praised the students, 
teachers and supporters for taking the initiative and making it all happen, 
and 'what a beautiful day it is for a planting ceremony!'

USC reporter Christine Trang from the USC Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism
interviewed various participants and was preparing her report for

Inglewood Artists and supporters, Ken Ober, Renee Fox and Ceres Madoo, Alumni Relations at Otis College of Art and Design came to support the Morningside High School Community Garden Opening Ceremonies. 
Photo by Ginger Van Hook 2010.

As an Inglewood Artist I was invited to attend this event, thanks to Ceres Madoo and when I arrived,  I did not know what to expect; but whatever it was to be, I knew this was a GREAT IDEA! As I milled about I got the opportunity to meet Mr. D'Artagnan Scorza who told me how the students from Morningside High School had gotten together to discuss civic engagement, how to show school spirit,  how to improve the community and how to better serve the needs of the school district.  The students themselves came up with the concept of a community garden, but at first, did not  have the means to make it happen. The original students were from Miss Roshondra's class and Mr. Shawn Stanton's class. A good idea took root then and there. One thing led to another and with the help of Inglewood City Council Member Ralph Franklin, their project got the encouragement and the support they needed right there from the school district's land.  
This property belongs to the school so now the students are able to 
develop a way to empower themselves to be a self sustaining community 
with healthy nourishing meals for its students. 
No better way to grow fine artists, fine students and fine citizens
than to take the seeds and cultivate, 
water frequently, daily, encourage with wisdom and respect for the land.
The students have a great number of plans which includes a farmer's market, music, art and culinary culture events.