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A story of public places, food, and extending outward

A story of public places, food, and extending outward

Written by Karen Fasimpaur
July 21, 2015

In the extremely rural place where I live, there is lots of space, but not a lot of public spaces in the conventional sense. No coffee houses, malls, or parklets. We do have large open pieces of public land and an amazing library.

A couple years ago, I wanted to start a seed library, and our local librarian graciously offered to host it at the library. I wasn’t sure whether other people would be interested in it, but it turnout out that they were.

Lesson #1: Food builds community, even among otherwise segmented groups.

Here is a story of our seed library:

(Note: This was recorded by SeedBroadcast, two amazing women who drive around in a mobile recording truck, capturing stories and then playing them over a loud speaker in public venues — a pretty amazing story in and of itself.)

The Tuscon Public Library is a model in seed libraries and also does some pretty interesting work toward be inclusive. As an example, they have planters outside their downtowm library with food growing that anyone can take and eat.

Lesson #2: To build inclusive public spaces, we need to make a wide diversity of people feel genuinely invited and give them reasons to participate.

In my experience, food is something of interest to almost everyone. It is one of those unique bridges.

But I realize that everyone doesn’t have the means (time, land, skills, seeds, etc.) to grow their own food. Seed libraries provide free seed, information, and sometimes even community garden space, but there are only about 250 seed libraries in the country.

Thinking about the lovely little free lending libraries, I was wondering if something like that could be done with seed libraries.

I’ve heard of seed libaries that have mobile carts that they take to large public events, but that isn’t really feasible in my area. Instead I started thinking about something that could be sent through the mail from place to place — a kind of free lttle library meets Flat Stanley.

Lesson #3 (yet to be tested): Go to where people are instead of expecting them to come to you.

And so that is my “make” for CLMOOC this week. I have been wanting to make a little traveling seed library box for a while now, and here is the first iteration.

If you’d like to have the mobile seed library visit your school or other public place, send me an email at karen at k12opened dot com. It’s free. You can take seeds or information. There’s no need to return any seeds back (though you’re welcome to mail me back some at some future date if you like). Then just ship the box on to its next destination.

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