Why you should do something good in your community

make a difference

Why you should DO SOMETHING good in your community

A lot of people ask me, where can I make a difference? I want to make that as simple as possible for everyone; Make a difference at home, in your community!

Serving your community—the place where you live and work and where you’ve planted roots—is everyday philanthropy at its most relevant. Because when you serve your community, you serve yourself. It was the New Orleans Town Gardeners, a community group of local gardening enthusiasts, who were the first to suggest that the Samuel J. Green Charter School (where more than 90 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced school meals) grow a vegetable garden. When they proposed the idea, the school officials said they weren’t interested. It was barely a year after Hurricane Katrina, and they were still getting back on their feet—they couldn’t possibly take on such a big (and unusual) project. Undaunted, the Town Gardeners found the school a partner in the Edible Schoolyard Project in Berkeley, California, the brainchild of chef Alice Waters and the Chez Panisse Foundation. Three years later, with the hard work of local volunteers, the Edible Schoolyard Project New Orleans (esypnola.org) is a beautiful green space and a source of pride in this proud community, for students and residents alike. Much of Green Charter’s curriculum is built around the garden. Kids tend the garden themselves, take Creole cooking classes using the organic crops, and learn about plant and insect life cycles firsthand. And once a month, the school invites members of the community into the garden to help care for the rows of eggplant and corn. Green Charter’s schoolyard garden is such a prized part of the community, it’s amazing to think that the New Orleans Town Gardeners initially faced resistance. But any community activist will tell you, when it comes to making local improvements, it’s not enough to have a good idea—you need to be persistent, and have a good plan.

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