The goal is to sow wildflower seeds on every single patch of abandoned soil in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bed Stuy this April. By early summer, there should be so many wildflowers growing in the untended treepits, vacant lots, half-built developments and other tiny scraps of neglected soil in Bed Stuy that the whole neighborhood effectively turns into a meadow.
Wildflower seeds are very easy to plant, and they grow well in poor, shallow soils without human attention, so it's going to be relatively easy to make a huge visual impact over the entire neighborhood. The profusion of wildflowers that result from this minimal effort will probably be relentless and visually unifying, and this relentless unity of wildflowers will probably make anyone walking down the street feel good.
I want there to be so many wildflowers on the streets that the summer of 2009 is remembered very fondly every single resident of the neighborhood. I want the continuity of the Meadow to be so strong that Google Earth is compelled to re-photograph Bed Stuy. I want people who don't even live within the five boroughs to visit Bed Stuy for the first time so that they can see the Meadow with their own eyes, and I want people who will never even come to be so inspired by the Bed Stuy Meadow that they make their own amazing neighborhood project and share it on 21st Century Plowshare.
Bed Stuy is a neighborhood of contradictions. There is a lot of crime here, but it's also by far the friendliest neighborhood I have ever lived in. It's got a litter problem and the landscape is dotted with empty lots and condemned houses. But this is also a neighborhood of seriously tended front yards with a rich history of community gardening. Bed Stuy claims as its own Hattie Carthan and the Notorious B.I.G. I think the Meadow is going to work because it doesn't work against what Bed Stuy is. Bed Stuy's low-slung, long-blocked character and the expansiveness of its territory are not like an urban jungle or forest as much as an urban prairie. The effort of the meadow is another chapter in the community gardening history of the neighborhood. Wildflowers are beautiful in the way that the architecture here is beautiful, the way the people who go out of their way to say good morning on the streets here are beautiful. And wildflowers are tough enough to grow wherever the seeds are cast.
1. Plant Seed in April. If you live in NYC and want to spend an afternoon scattering seed in April, email 21stcenturyplowshare-at-gmail-dot-com to get on the list of volunteers.
2. The total budget for this project is about $2000. Donate a few dollars by clicking this button:Every donation over $10 gets you a gift: your own mini-meadow delivered to your door.
3. If you are local business, seed company, landscaper or other interested entity, this event needs corporate sponsorship. Your $100 sponsorship gets your business name mentioned on every single thing that's ever written about the Meadow, your name on all Meadow Schwag, effusive and prominently placed thanks on 21st Century Plowshare and good karma.
4. By the time spring turns to summer and results are visible, you'll be able to buy Meadow Schwag. Schwag will serve three purposes. It will make up any budget deficit that I had to put on my own credit card, fund future projects, and most importantly, raise Meadow Consciousness.
5. Spread the Word. Even if it's the only thing you do, it's big help to tell people about this project and link to this page.
6. Do your own project. Bed Stuy is not the only neighborhood that needs a meadow or similar plant intervention. What should happen to your neighborhood? Email pictures and stories to 21stcenturyplowshare-at-gmail-dot-com.
Rules of Engagement
There will be an organized effort going to every single block and planting seed. But this doesn't have to be a tightly organized event. If you live in Bed Stuy and just want to go make sure your block is covered without being part of the larger effort, I thank you. Please though, for the sake of future efforts, follow two simple rules:
1. No fair throwing seeds on someone else's property, and that includes tree pits that are being tended. Tended tree pits have boxes, fences, signs about dog poop, and other signs that someone cares.
2. No fair planting invasive species. If you have any doubt about your seed, email 21stcenturyplowshare-at-gmail-dot-com and I will give you some.