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JUNE 2020

SUMMER SOLSTICE CELEBRATION 6/27/2020 Our Summer Solstice Garden Blessing, has been a great tradition over many years for our community. Typically we would gather in our community garden to "bless" the land and the people with drumming, songs, poems, strawberries and good wishes. Since gathering in that way isn't possible in June of 2020, we invited some friends to share their good words (and some sweet songs) with us through video clips from their home. We hope you enjoy these thoughts and we want to thank the many contributors. Special thanks to our musical guests, David Newland (Cobourg, ON), Julian Taylor (Toronto, ON) and Linda McRae (Nashville, TN). Happy summer everyone and let's hope we'll gather again, soon! [Thanks to the amazing Lana Missen for assembling this fun production]

On June 10 David Sheffield marked his 10th year with Green Wood Coalition. The following is taken from his special report to the Board of Directors.

This month marks my 10th anniversary with Green Wood Coalition. I’m proud to have been associated with this bold adventure and thankful to be working alongside remarkable people as we creatively seek new ways to live as a community, while pursuing personal and social change for many individuals and our community.

A lot has happened over 10 years, and when I came across this piece of writing by the late Irish poet, John O’Donohue, it offered some important perspective.

“All through your life, the most precious experiences seem to vanish. Transience turns everything to air. You look behind and see no sign even of a yesterday that was so intense. Yet in truth, nothing ever disappears, nothing is lost. Everything that happens to us in the world passes into us. It all becomes part of the inner temple of the soul and it can never be lost. This is the art of the soul: to harvest your deeper life from all the seasons of your experience.”

We find ourselves in the midst of both a global pandemic and the most significant public protest against institutional racism and oppression we have seen in decades. It’s time for taking stock of where we’re at, personally and collectively.

As a white male, I am challenged to think and act on my own privilege and the benefits I enjoy at the expense of those who have suffered under the same system that has rewarded me. I ask myself, “Am I the oppressed or the oppressor?” The next question I might ask is, “What can I do to change that?”

From our earliest days as an ad hoc group of people who cared about their neighbours, I have viewed Green Wood as part of a movement for social change. The women who first reached out to Greenwood Motel residents, who were buried under layers of poverty of many kinds, drew us into this movement for change. They showed up with hope that a different future was possible for people who had been pushed aside. They listened to and amplified the voices of people who had been ignored and “shushed” for years.

These days, Green Wood Coalition is an amazing collection of members who are fully engaged in keeping alive the passion of the grassroots initiative that birthed a social change organization. I don’t think I’m the only one who has found this experience transformational. Those of us who have followed look back to those visionaries for inspiration, while recognizing we have a lot of work left to do. We’re here for the long game.

We are living through a disruptive time, but I believe this upheaval will lead to something better -- more listening, more understanding, more equitable systems and more action on things we can change. Maybe this will move us toward that better future we’ve been working for. Whatever unfolds, one thing is clear: maintaining the status quo will be a step backward.

-David Sheffield

While we're managing the COVID-19 regulations around operating a community garden, our members have begun planting seed and bedding plants in hope of sunny days ahead. Special thanks to Community Power Northumberland for their support for our Community Garden in Port Hope.

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