TED Prize
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Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

When I was little my Dad made

Community Garden

Project Summary

...me look after the plants.

Project Description

When I was little my Dad made me water the plants. We lived on an organic herb farm. My Mum made my brother and I jumpers that she had knitted from hand-spun wool she had brushed and dyed from the sheep next door. When it rained the lanolin in the jumper began to smell like sheep. The kids at school used to bleat at us. It was a bit tough being the brown bread with alfalfa sprouts your Mum grew and smelly sheep jumper kids at school but now as a grown-up I appreciate what it taught us to value. The things your parents teach you as a kids shape the way you lead life. Although now I live in a city, not on a farm somewhat ironically I find myself dedicating all of my time to encouraging growing, fostering connections with the earth - in a less humiliating way. It's part of a scheme to send in a 'Trojan Horse of Fun' to deliver sustainable and positive alternatives to people in a way that isn't smelly or weird but instead that are irresistibly cool and contagiously fun. These are things like the Garage Sale Trail, Grow It Local project, the Sydney Tweed Ride and GreenUps - Sydney's Green Drinks. I have the best job in the world.

What are the main takeaways from this story?

Lanolin jumpers stink in the rain.
Tomato plants aren't always 'tomato plants'.
Alternative parents teach their children well.

Describe a "good" failure in your process or explain how potential challenges resulted in opportunities to learn or grow.

I have been arrested as a climate activist on (lets just say) several occasions. I don't regret it, not even a little bit. But as the wonderful Ed Gillespie (Futerra) says "The best way to subvert the dominant paradigm is to have more fun than they have, and let them know while we're doing it".

What was the biggest challenge or biggest surprise?

That sometimes just because people are working to do good, they don't always act like it. We need to be gentler on ourselves and remember that we're only as good as our last good deed and that people are human, they are fallible and sometimes make really crap decisions that make you feel sad.

Explain how to share this project with your community?

Let's go tickle some worms and eat some yummy food that comes from the back yard.