* The Hot Potato turns one year old! Join us as we reflect on our first year writing The Hot Potato, and ask: how do we follow our dreams and follow our hearts for peace & prosperity in 2008 and beyond – and reconcile our emergency plans with our highest dreams for the future. *
The Cranberries – Dreams
THE HOT POTATO
Serving Up a Weekly Helping of
Sustainable & Organic Gardening, Food, Health, and Community
by Adam Brockman & Aireen Joven, January 2008, #40
THIS WEEK’S DISH -
DREAMS & RESOLUTIONS:
Looking To The Past And The Future For Ourselves,
The Hot Potato, And The Planet
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.” - Henry David Thoreau
“No one should negotiate their dreams. Dreams must be free to fly high. No government, no legislature, has a right to limit your dreams. You should never agree to surrender your dreams.” - Jesse Jackson
“I’ve come to believe that each of us has a personal calling that’s as unique as a fingerprint – and that the best way to succeed is to discover what you love and then find a way to offer it to others in the form of service, working hard, and also allowing the energy of the universe to lead you.”
– Oprah Winfrey, O Magazine, September 2002
PLANNING THE GARDEN. In April 2007, Adam, Aireen, and Aireen’s mother Ting began planning the layout of the garden and dug up the lawn to create the first out of four biointensive garden beds. In the beginning, the garden was just drawings on paper and a dream.
IT FEELS GOOD to be back. The Hot Potato indulged in a short break from the column for a couple weeks, and we have returned just in time to celebrate the new year and our year anniversary writing the Hot Potato! With gratitude, we would like to acknowledge the weekly newspaper that publishes our column, The FilAm Weekly Megascene, which has a large distribution across Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. The Hot Potato shares space in The Megascene with a community of knowledgeable, passionate, and insightful columnists who explore, like The Hot Potato, a wide variety of topics, from news and politics of the Philippines and Asia, to community events, spirituality, the arts, business, and all things Chicago.
Our appreciation extends as well to the professional association of journalists that took us under their wing and invited us last year to join as new, junior members. The National Press Club of the Philippines in the United States (NPC-Phil USA) held their inaugural luncheon to induct new members back on March 3, 2007. Adam and I had the honor of participating in this inspiring event that included Larry Wert, the president and general manager of NBC 5 in Chicago reading our most recent column at the time, “Becoming The Media” and even adeptly commenting on our article’s main points (media homogenization, conflicts of interest, censorship, and independent media) during his address to NPC as the keynote speaker! With positive feedback from readers and maternal-like encouragement as good as gold from The Megascene‘s publisher and editor, who is also a dear family friend, our column is now published online as a wordpress.com blog and has a growing number of cherished subscribers from the United States and beyond.
OUR GREATEST WORKS
We’d like to take a reflective moment to acknowledge a special Megascene columnist, Hermie Sanchez, who was also a family friend, that passed from an illness near the end of 2007. Hermie, a published writer and prolific fashion designer, made my 1920′s style prom dress for me almost ten years ago, and designed several beautiful gowns for my mother over the years, and even collaborated with my mother in a fundraising fashion show that raised funds for children in the Philippines. Earlier in 2007, Hermie moved from Chicago to L.A. to pursue his dreams as a writer with one published book already under his belt and a vision of his words being brought to life. I related to his cross country move, because one of my best friends moved from Chicago to L.A. several years ago to pursue her childhood dream of becoming a successful writer in film or television. She just sent me an email saying she is still working on making her well-worn dream come true, and with a renewed sense of resolve and purpose for 2008.
Their example of following dreams reminds me to be ever grateful for the unique gifts we are each blessed with – whether it be a passion for storytelling, being a guide in people’s lives, caring for others, or putting paint to a canvas. Van Gogh’s ability to transfer his vision onto the canvas was a gift. Like a painter, each of us are born with a picture to paint that is our highest aspirations. When the heart, the mind, and the painter’s hand work in unison together, we can accomplish the greatest works of our imagination. The importance of creating or collaborating on something that didn’t exist in the world until we made it is tremendous – a new place such as a garden, a new object such as an unexpected present, or a new relationship such as a special person entering your life for the first time or an old friendship refreshed with new bonds and experiences.
CELEBRATING IN THE GARDEN. In June of 2007, we celebrated Adam’s birthday with a garden party. Our friends, including the little kids, helped harvest the last of the spring time radishes. Dreams do come true.
INSPIRATION FOR THE HOT POTATO
We imagine one of the most special times when a new person enters your life is when you meet your child for the first time at his or her birth. Just a few days before everyone rung in the new year, our friends gave birth to a healthy and beautiful baby daughter named Ruby. Their daughter hit the scene earlier than expected, whose due date had been on January 1, 2008. Good for her parents, because, as the father had joked at the baby shower a couple months earlier, then they wouldn’t have to wait a whole year to benefit from a new tax write-off for 2007! Children and their well being are a big inspiration for Adam and I, in our personal lives and in writing The Hot Potato. It’s like one of our favorite Cat Stevens songs, “Where Do The Children Play?”:
“Well I think it’s fine, building jumbo planes.
Or taking a ride on a cosmic train.
Switch on summer from a slot machine.
Yes, get what you want to if you want, ’cause you can get anything.
I know we’ve come a long way,
We’re changing day to day,
But tell me, where do the children play?
Well you roll on roads over fresh green grass.
For your lorry loads pumping petrol gas.
And you make them long, and you make them tough.
But they just go on and on, and it seems that you can’t get off.
Oh, I know we’ve come a long way,
We’re changing day to day,
But tell me, where do the children play?
Well you’ve cracked the sky, scrapers fill the air.
But will you keep on building higher
’til there’s no more room up there?
Will you make us laugh, will you make us cry?
Will you tell us when to live, will you tell us when to die?
I know we’ve come a long way,
We’re changing day to day,
But tell me, where do the children play?”
From grocery stores to the layout of communities, and the laws society creates to the way our food is grown, we wonder what would our world look like if our world was a world made for children, a world that understands and meets the needs of every child? Children need pure food that is nutritious and organic, a healthy planet, loving families who are able to care for them, and peace. Children also need fun, beauty, adventure, love, the opportunity to create and make choices, and a safe, supportive community. Politics can take years to decide on and pass laws that meet the needs of children, families, and the planet, but the needs of children are immediate and universal.
EMERGENCY PLANS AND DREAMS FOR THE FUTURE
We began The Hot Potato on the tail end of a whirlwind year for us, uprooting ourselves from living 2 and half years in one of the largest urban areas in the world, Chicago, to spend 32 weeks learning organic agriculture and living in tune with the seasons on an organic farm in the Kettle Moraine countryside of southeastern Wisconsin. Just a couple months before starting the weekly column, in November 2006, we also completed a life-changing, highly recommended 3 day workshop on a sustainable method of growing food called GROW BIOINTENSIVE, taught by Ecology Action in California’s Mendocino County. John Jeavons, bestselling author of one of our favorite books How To Grow More Vegetables (Than You Ever Though Possible On Less Land Thatn You Can Imagine), began the workshop, attended by several dozen people from all over the world and from all walks of life, with a hard but pro-active look at the state of the environment, the implications of current and future resource levels for our generation and future generations, humanity’s responsibility, and empowering ourselves to change the course and change it fast.
He asked everyone at the workshop to take a moment to ask themselves, I paraphrase,
“What steps would you take if you knew you, or your community, had to grow all of your own food by the next five years?”
At least some of the workshop participants really put themselves into this situation, and one young woman who teaches urban gardening to children and her community in Washington D.C., expressed that she felt overwhelmed at the prospect of what she would have to do to address the need for a totally localized self-sufficient food economy.
In April of 2007, we returned to Mendocino County (the first county in the United States to ban the growing of any genetically engineered crops like corn or strawberries) to visit Ecology Action’s research farms and explore the prospect of doing a multiple year internship with Ecology Action. Although we came to realize we had to stay in the Midwest, at least for now, the majestic landscapes and progressive people we connected with during our travels in California left permanent impressions. John Jeavons’ question to the biointensive workshop participants, about growing all your own food out of necessity, stayed with me as I wrote the answers to questions in the application for prospective interns at Ecology Action. When Adam and I met with John to discuss our applications, he noted a particular line I wrote in response to the question, how do you see the future and how are you preparing for it? I wrote something along the lines of:
“It’s great to know that our plans for emergency-type situations are also our dreams for the future.”
SEASON’S END. By Thanksgiving 2007, only the cold hardy veggies, the carrots, cabbage, parsley, kale, and mustard greens were still growing strong, even more tasty in the fall weather. The tomatoes and potatoes and most of the crops we had planted weeks earlier. The stalks, leaves, and kitchen scraps of the plants from our garden all made their way into the compostpile and will be turned into next year’s soil.
DANCING TO YOUR OWN SONG IN 2008
What I meant by emergency plans matching our dreams for the future is that our choices involve a synchronicity between what the planet needs and what we want for ourselves. Becoming aware of your connection to the land and the people who grow your food, or growing your food yourself, also happen to be a great way to address climate change and pollution of air, land, and water. Walking and biking more, taking public transportation, and even choosing to drive a more eco-friendly vehicle helps the planet and is fun, healthy, and even exciting. All those good things that you’re “supposed to do” actually feel good to do!
No one can do it for us. But we’re not alone as we begin to walk a different path that is healthier for ourselves, our families, and the world. Accomplishing whatever it is that we wish to change for ourselves in 2008 may seem like a chore sometimes, like an invisible voice asking you to do what you don’t want to do. But if we change our mindset to knowing this is our own choice, then maybe the doing can be done with a sense of thanks that we have this opportunity to try. It may take work, discipline, thinking ahead, and marching to the beat of our own drum, but imagine how much fun and easier it will be to dance to the rhythm of our own song in 2008.
Until next week, The Hot Potato is in your hands. Pass it on!
Where Do The Children Play?
Cat Stevens/Dr. Seuss