A few months ago, I approached a stranger at the bar and offered to read a tarot card for him. I'd overheard him talking about some life decisions he was making, and wanted to offer perspective.
It turns out that he owns a vacant lot down the street from my apartment, one that I walk or bike past every day. I told him I’m a renter - a single mom without wealth, or much income - that I’ll probably never own land here in Minneapolis. But like a lot of my friends and neighbors, I dream about putting down roots in other ways. Plus, as a rural person at heart, I miss the open space of home and living closer to land and water. Knowing the ways it changes with sun and season is one of the things that keeps me feeling grounded.
After some conversation on logistics, he offered to let me and some friends and neighbors lease his lot for $1 a month to do whatever we want to do.
What we want to do is create a public garden space where we can reconnect, learn about this place, find joy in dirt, and nourish life together. All are welcome! We're calling it DREAM SPACE because that's what it is.
Right now, I’ve got some tiny plants growing in my windowsill. We’ve started to map the way water and light move on the lot, and we’re planning some potlucks, open workshops, and space to gather together around food and fire and work in the sun. It’s been a little ray of hope I keep coming back to in the middle of such a chaotic time - the dream that we might find our way back to the root of what it means to live well, within community, in spite of an oppressive economic paradigm.
Today, I told this story to a group of water resource professionals visiting from out of town, and one of them pulled out a dollar and said he wanted to invest in this dream. It was funny - and symbolic.
I decided that instead of passing this dollar along directly, I’d remove it from circulation. Now it’s pinned up on the wall, a reminder. Maybe I’ll plant it eventually, back into the dirt. This phrase - THERE GROWS THE NEIGHBORHOOD - was shared with me by an artist I met last year from Chicago, whose work inspires me to think small and slow. I think it’s gonna be a good season, for growing!