The noted and very fine architect Michael Willoughby has long been a member of the board of the Greening of Detroit. Who knew this group has been planting trees, sponsoring urban education and farms, in Detroit since 1989-this year is their twentieth anniversary. Michael has been asking me to join this group for a long time-I finally told him, in exasperation, that I had no patience for groups or committees-but I would do what I could do. So I went to their website. www.greeningofdetroit.com WOW. These people have done a lot for our city, and they keep on doing it, in the most serious way. I understand their sentiments exactly. Plant trees in big cities, in as big a numbers as you can manage. Teach people to grow plants, grow plants that are food. Rehabilitate urban spaces. Clean up and plant. Foliate as best you can. Soften urban spaces with plants; teach people about the planet Earth. They have been at the issue of greening for a very long time; they did not get to this concept via popular culture, fashion or trend. They have been at it in a big and quiet way for twenty years. They impress me-their administrators, their board, their teachers, their volunteers. I taught a class for them downtown on growing vegetables in containers. The group was lively, smart, and willing. I had the best time.
So last July, trying to get Michael Willoughby off my plate, I sponsored a tour of 7 gardens of my design, to raise money for this group. Our top end ticket included a little something to eat, and a little something to drink. I have to tell you, the 10,000.00 we raised for them from the sale of those tickets was a very important accomplishment in my life. The Greening of Detroit planted a tree in Detroit in my name, as a thank you. I can’t explain how this made me feel, except to say these people made me feel that my efforts made a huge difference. They won me over.
So now I am a commissioner for the Greening of Detroit, and we are planning our second garden tour July 19. I promise you will see beautiful gardens, and what you spend for your ticket will go directly to a group intensely committed to the ecological well-being of our city. If you live within a stone’s throw of Detroit, I would invite you to participate. If you live far away from me, I would urge you to support your local green group. Green groups, world wide-I like the idea of this.
Tomorrow’s post-pictures of this year’s gardens. Again, www.greeningofdetroit.com. Look at them. Help them, if you can. Spread the word, if that is what you do best. Meet up with all of the rest of us-July 19, 2009.