Tuesday, September 28, 2010


A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.
Mohandas Gandhi
We often find that it can be the grandest gesture or the most benign act that can set in motion the changing of the world.  So on that note, we are going to be doing something a little different.
Looking for cans!  We are out to recycle every aluminum can in Atlanta all in an effort to raise money for The Waiverly Projects....So hang on to the Red Bull can, or put that sixer of PBR cans aside for us.  We will take anything aluminum.  Contact Eli at Elimontgomery@live.com or Jenn at Kukiesnmilk@gmail.com and let us take those cans because every ounce counts!

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Slow Turning of the World...

I think that one of the greatest curses that comes with human knowledge is that of the passage of time.  We are able to recognize the slow turning of the world, and it's wide sweep around the sun, and who knows what the sun is spinning around. The Earth does what it is going to do and but the human part of it, the man made beauracracy is what sometimes takes the fun out of it. 
   We often think of fall as the time of year when everything goes to sleep and this is not true.  It is just the time when things take place behind closed doors or deep underground. Consider it practice and preparation for the big show to come.  Any farmer can tell you that the work does not stop when the last tomato is off the vine.   Since we are no longer a strictly agrarian society, it is easy to forget that things continue to happen after that first leaf hits the ground, or after the first frost.
   I said all of that because, as I sit and go blind on paperwork and applications of so many sorts, to rest my eyes, I will often take a moment to glance outside and wish I was there.  It is not without these moments that things get done.  We hope to bring about a lot of change in the spring, but it is these moment behind the scenes and deep underground that bring change.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

When "I" becomes "We" or I Am Not Crazy

There is a point in any project, when the kernel of an idea that was rattling around in your head becomes a real and true thing in the world.  There is a point where what was only a flight of fancy or a doodle in the margins of a notebook, takes shape.  Those moments, when they are realized, are heart warming,  Even more heartwarming, is when you look around and see that others are sharing it with you.  There is a moment when the "I" of your world, become "We".
   I would say the great thing when that moment comes is a certain validation.  Those moments come with the realization that you are not crazy or, at the very least, you are surrounded by people who are just as crazy as you. 
   I write this as an open letter to those who have dared to be crazy with me.  Whether it is has been by rolling up your sleeves and digging in, or by simply nodding along while I ranted.  There are great things coming up in the next few months and hopefully years after that and if you look at my earlier blogs, you know why I am doing this.  I just want to thank you for coming on the journey with me and I invite you to invite others along with us!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

My Mission to Compost!

     It’s a few degrees cooler and it is getting just a little darker just a little earlier. I haven’t been bitten by anything in couple of days, so it appears the mosquitoes have had their fill and are off to other places. Fall is most definitely on the way, even though it is not here yet. Still, my mind is on spring.
I have taken a few running starts at a good compost pile. When I live in Seattle, I had a pretty good little garden going on the back deck of our duplex. I was in a tomato phase then (I still am) and even though that space did not have really good sun and it was a struggle battling with the bugs to keep it organic, there was nothing better than the thought of leaving work and going to that war. It was at this time of year, when I felt a little regret, as the leaves began to fade and brown replaced green, but I looked forward to a whole new battle: COMPOST!
     I am the first to admit that I like the idea, but I have no idea what I am doing. I have gotten far enough into a good pile to see steam rising on a cold winter morning when I lifted the tarp. I loved watching the needle on the thermometer climb to a triumphant 140 degrees.
     I think I am enamored with the circle of life. Things that were once dinner worthy being broken down and returned to nature. Egg shells and coffee grounds that were the refuse from a hasty breakfast, were now slowly giving structure and texture to my pile. The bugs that I detest in the summer sought refuge in my pile and some were forming a network of tunnels and highways where rotting bread was being hauled to and fro.
     I even tried vermicomposting. If you lay a piece of cardboard on pretty much any area of land on a cool night, by the morning there will be bright red worms under it that will work to devour your garbage and provide you will great fertilizer in a few weeks. They are more of a challenge. You never want to drown them in food nor do you want to starve them to death. Worm farms are a lot of work.
With composting the process is simple. Keep it semi-aerated and as wet as a damp sponge. Keep flipping the pile and don’t let it get too hot, nor too cold and in a little while, you have a rich brown/black mixture that will work wonders on you garden in the spring; or so I am told.
     I must admit, I have never gotten that far. A good garden is a sign of man’s civilization. You are saying, “I am here and I have managed to tame one little spot of God’s planet.” I am often tempted to beat my chest when I have planted something. I have never been able to make it that far. This is the drawback to a mobile life. I am rarely in one spot for the length of that circle of life. I guess that is why I am so very excited about this project.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


A few years ago, some friends of mine and I were walking around Bellevue, a city just outside of Seattle, Washington. The main thing that we noticed were the gaping holes in the ground. We were told that the average “footprint” of the average building in Bellevue and Seattle is about an acre. An Acre is about the size of a football field without the end zones. We counted 18 of them.
We did not and do not have a large problem with the buildings themselves. We are not against progress at all. As a matter of fact, in that progress we can see a lot of opportunity and that is the point of Just1Acre. When these new buildings are being built, emerging from these huge holes like trees of metal and glass, they block out the sun and create a new skyline for the city. We just feel that it could have been done with more of a not to the environment.
With 18 acres and more to come in the future, we are conquering more land than we are saving but above all we feel that the solutions are simple and have the potential to be very helpful and therapeutic. With these huge buildings could also come a rooftop garden. The balconies and open areas could be very therapeutic for the people who live there, even picking fresh basil from your windowsill. A lot of people do not understand how simple this can be.
The major idea of Just1Acre is to spread understanding. The goals and ideas are simple and easily done and that is what J1A is all about. So please, follow along!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Waiverly Projects...

I have to say that I really like that we are forming a group and taking on quite a few new challenges. "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citzens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."--Margaret Mead.

Week on the Street

From November 8-15 I will live on the streets of Atlanta to bring awareness and services to the homelessness. There are numerous things in place to help the homeless but they often do not know they are available.

Just1Acre is about reclaiming one acre of urban land and turning it green. We are gathering a group of a concerned individuals across the country to retake area that has gone to disuse or covered with concrete. We are looking to reclaim a cumulative one acre here. A square foot here, a yard or two there, and we will soon have an acre.

Bears and Books
We are working to make 50 bears and offer them with 50 books for 50 kids who really deserve them this Christmas.

UsVsThem is working to throw events to bring awareness and funding to various local charities.

Please follow as we get these projects underway and if you choose, make a donation in the box to the right.  It is all for a great cause!

Craft Hope Spreading seeds of hope one stitch at a time

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Last Night...

It is helpful to say “they” and “them” and “their” instead of “we” and “us” and “our”. It is amazing the amount of power that we give to words. By defining the homeless as something other than ourselves, we give ourselves some breathing room. They are not us. They are something different. They are another group entirely.

Some of them make it easier for us by striving to be something other; to be something different. They embrace their “other”-ness by becoming what we have beheld as wrong and bad and different and, most of all, worst of all, worthy of our pity. With signs held not high, but low in manner that connotes weakness, they ask for your change because they are a vet, or they need to get home, or they need a cup of coffee, or a myriad of other reasons. For a while, the trend was honesty. Signs read “Fuck it, I need a beer” and “Need money for weed!” We rewarded their honesty with a giggle and the change that was in our pocket, happy that they had told the truth. It was their truth but it was not the truth.

So, it is really a nice little arrangement. They put on their show. They audition. They size us up too. One person told me that the best way to get someone is when they are a couple and they look to be on a date. The guy is often willing to give some change because he wants to look good in front of his date. Another is to ask for specific amounts like two quarters. If the person was going to give any money at all, there is no way they would pull out a pile of change from their pocket, extract two quarters and give just that. It is likely they will give all of it.

We play the game too. We walk in a wide circle around them so as not to be close enough to ask. We walk still enough to not jiggle the change in our pocket, or we carry no change at all specifically for that reason; so we can pat our pants as we walk by and give sad little glance. Emerging from restaurants we proffer leftovers, not thinking that anyone would not want to eat the picked over remains of your dinner. Some will take it readily but most will decline. When they decline, we say, “See, you must not have been hungry.”

These games are all well and good, but they are not the truth. Little Sally holding the sign is not trying to get back home to Nebraska. Leftovers and spare change even with the best of intentions will not get someone off the street. The most shocking truth of all is that this part, this face of homelessness that we see everyday, it is all just theater.

Most estimates put the number of homeless in Atlanta at between 15,000 and 22,000. The variance is based on what one could consider homeless. High estimates place people who are moving in and out of hotels and people who live with relatives as homeless rather than in transition. Still, even at the low end of the estimate, I saw about 100 homeless give or take. So we should be asking ourselves, where are the other 14,900 plus, and why are they not in the street asking for money?

My guess would be pride. A number of the people I saw curled up in corners or going to huddle in cars were just plodding away, day in and day out, trying to make things happen in their lives. They were waiting for the library to open so they could check the want ads and their e-mail to see if anything had come in. They were standing in line outside of staffing places waiting for a job. They were standing in line at food banks so they did not have to beg for money for food. The vast majority of the homeless were simply trying to get their lives on track or back on track.

Ironically it is pride that often keeps people on the street and that street goes both ways. A lot of the services that are available to people go unused. They do not want to talk to a counselor about their problem. They feel they have it under control or they are embarrassed that it even got to this point, even if it was due to circumstances beyond their control.

We see also that the organizations that can help and even those mandated to help by the government do not reach those they are supposed to be helping. It is overcoming that pride that will solve this problem. There need to be people out there, on the streets, bringing these people out of the cold, reversing the stigma, and helping them to solve their problems. It is especially important for youth because their most available inlet into the system has become the police when it could be as simple as someone handing out a flyer.

I would say that my overall assessment is that the homeless in Atlanta are simply people who have problems and they need help, even the scammers, but the stop gap measures are not going to do it. If we are talking about the man or woman, boy or girl sitting outside of the restaurant begging for change, they likely do not need a meal, but perhaps drug or alcohol counseling. The man in the corner talking to himself likely does not need change, but perhaps medication of another sort. The core problem of why they are out there needs to be solved. I do not think this will come as a surprise to anyone. We have the tools, we just need the resolve.