Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The unknown seeds

As we embark on a new year, we are getting a lot of questions about what we are doing. I can never give a simple explanation.  I think the reason that tend to be so long winded is that I do not want to be pigeon-holed into being just one thing.  I have said it before and I will say it again, the solutions to the world's problems will not come from one thing.  They will come from cooperation and unity.  They will come from the establishment of a foundation and building on that foundation, branching from it, and growing. 

I get a lot of joy from helping the homeless. I can do that because I use other likes and interests to help me help them.  I love to cook.  I love to garden.  I love working with the environment.  I like politics and meeting new people.   All of these things, and so many more tie into what The Waiverly Projects are.  They are me doing what I like doing, so that I can help others and teach things to my daughter.  What is it that you want to do?  Who are your projects for?

So now, these unknown seeds have been planted.  I am often out and about, meeting new people and doing new things, but most of all, I am both learning and teaching (more learning THAN teaching).  Recently, we began working on biochar expirements.  For those who do not know, Biochar is burning carbon based material (which comprises most of our waste) in a low oxygen environment.  The resulting blackened char (similar to charcoal) is ground up and added back to the soil.  It does nothing to the soil alone, but as an addition to the soil, it draws helpful nutrients and micro-organisms.  It also aids in water retention for the plants.  Most of all, it takes all that carbon that would otherwise go into the atmosphere and puts it back into the ground.  Forget reducing your carbon footprint, this process is carbon negative, so it theoretically erases your footprint altogether.

How does this help?  We are building a community garden with soil comprised mainly of sand and clay.  With Biochar and compost we are able to turn orange clay and sand into a nutrient rich growing medium.  It is very stable and has the same properties that most compost and petroleum based fertilizers use, but it is much better for the soil over time.

So, where there was nothing, we see that there is potential, with work and planning, for something.  Garbage becomes compost...An abandoned lot in Doraville, GA becomes a garden...wasted wood and carbon rich waste that would have gone into landfills, becomes biochar...seeds will become plants and plants will yield food for those who need it.

I said all of that to say this, once the seeds are planted we do not, in this case, know what will grow.  We know that with nurturing and loving care, something will emerge and we hope that something will be something positive and become the seeds again for something else to grow.  So when people ask me what The Waiverly Projects are all about, I can honestly say, I do not know...yet. 

Sunday, December 26, 2010


I am truly happy about the way things have gone this year.  2010 has had some stops and starts, and things that have been good and bad, but overall, we have our foot in the door and things are moving!
So, when we look at what is going in in the next week (nothing for us) with the holidays, I think it is a good thing to look back at a few of the more salient occurances of the past year.  We started late in the year with all of the things that we are doing.  So as we approach the new year, we have a sort of a jumping off point, where the problems and goals are defined.  We have seen our limitations and we know where our skills are.  We are looking forward to a great 2011.

Somethings need to be remembered though.  For whatever milestones and dates we are marking, we should keep in mind that there are people for whom homelessness is a day in, day out toil.  So for all the things that we are doing, we see that one thing that someone said to me after Thanksgiving, "The next day, we were hungry again."  So, I think we need to keep that in mind while we go into our daily work.  Thank you all and may you all have a wonderful new year!

Friday, December 17, 2010


Today is a bitter sweet day.  Our "intern" has left us.  Thankfully, it is because he has gotten another, better paying job!  These are the moments for which I live.  These are the simple moments.  These are the moments and the times when you realize that all it took to make a difference was something simple.  The bottom line is that we didn't do much.  He did all the hard work and yes, he is still without a home but in a few weeks, at least he will have a paycheck.

Things that are on the horizon for The Waiverly Projects....
The Blend Talent Show at Peachtree and Pine (http://www.theblendatlanta.blogspot.com/)
We are still working on the Art in Agriculture project (http://www.just1acre.blogspot.com/)
Winnie Mae's is assembling a crew to work on a wedding in March.  Our client wants a socially responsible wedding and has hired us to do the cake and the catering.

Friday, December 10, 2010

A new job!

This morning we had a marathon of meetings and I was set for a horribly long day.  There are often times when you wake up and wonder why you would want to walk outside on a cold day like this.  Yesterday, we broke ground on the Genesis project and my back was killing me.  Needless to say, I was not looking forward to the day ahead.  At 8:45, there was a soft know at my door and there was someone who made it all worthwhile. 
Two weeks ago, we hired a young man who is homeless and struggling to find a job.  He had been working by raking leaves on a daily basis for about 20 dollars a day.  We met during my Month on the Street and I spoke with him at length during a couple of long nights.  So, we decided to give him a shot.  There was not a lot that we could do, but the amazing thing is that he did not want much nor did he need it to be off an running.
We gave him a Starbuck's card and a mission and he took to it immediately.  I am not one to have a personal assistant, but this man (not a kid at 18), contacted me daily asking what he could do.  I would tell him that there really was not a lot that we had for him to do.  I told him that we would really need someone to help out with running errands.  I asked him to show up at 9 a.m. on Friday and over the course of the week told him to do something here and there, offered him a chance to use my computer to apply for other jobs.  I loaded and tracked his Starbucks card.  He used it to buy coffee to keep him going and for one other thing.

He showed up at my door this morning 15 minutes early with a double tall soy, raspberry, no whip, mocha and a stack of flyers that I had asked him to make earlier in the week.  I am going to go ahead and say it, Employee of the Month.

We took the train into Little Five Points and sat for a while talking about what we are going to do with the day.  Not a great deal was on the table, passing out flyers and talking to people and we would pay him $10 per hour for about 4 hours of work.

The great thing is that while I was working at this particular Starbucks, a manager was talking to me about the interview I had done some weeks ago and she said that she would hire someone homeless if she could find the right person.  It was then I said, "Have I got a guy for you..." 

We shall see.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Home again, home again...

It is so good to be back in the real world, bills and all.  There is no rest for the wicked, though.  We are happy with the progress that we are making.  The interesting thing is that the end of Month on the Street is not an ending.  We are just heading into another phase.  If nothing else, we have added to our mission with the start of the new Art in Agriculture project.  The beautiful thing about The Waiverly Projects is that they encompass a wide area of well...areas that are all designed to improve the world a little. 
   Our installation is designed to bring the beauty of the world out with a practical purpose.  We want to create an entire acre of green space.  It is pretty simple when you think about it.  Look around.  Take a moment to notice all of the disused places where, with a little time and effort, there could be green, life producing, life enhancing...life!  Abandoned lots, odd corners, and barren spots in your backyard, there are so many places that can be greened!  An acre is about the size of a football field with the end zones cut off.  I can see about that much just looking out of my window.
   On top of all of that, we see so many people, mainly kids, who have no idea where their food comes from.  The average meal originates about 1100 miles away and by the time it reaches us, it has been injected and modified in so many ways that it only moderately resembles what it began as. 
   On top of all of that...Fresh air!  So please follow along as we go on this new journey.  We are still working on Winnie Mae's.  We will still be doing Week on the Street in January...We will still be working on all of our goals!