Posted by: Small House Under a Big Sky Homestead | June 19, 2012

Giving Back

Today was a day of giving to my community.

I live in a very poor, small agricultural town in SW Michigan where the average annual income in our county is less than $23,000.00 and 99% of elementary school children here receive a free breakfast and free lunch or they might not eat.

Our township has been having some hard times in the recent recession and many businesses have closed. I know the pain of this as after 6 years of very hard work, my art gallery was one of those businesses who went out of business.

And, yet if you look around us, we are wealthy in land, natural beauty and natural resources. We are surrounded by the stunningly beautiful Allegan Forest, lakes and marshes and the lovely Kalamazoo River. We have the bounty of rich farmland that grows peaches, apples, cherries and more and nearby Lake Michigan that moderates the orchards and most years protect them from frosts. We have a wealth of potable water in a time where water is becoming a very scare commoddy.

And yet, roadside trash has been a big issue here. For many years I have been trying to clean up and beautify our little town and 6 years ago I founded The Pullman Clean Team. Our mission has been to clean up the roadways and to teach a model of environmental mindfulness and the importance of clean air, water and protecting the earth.

It’s been slow going but we are making progress and the roadways have been cleaner with less trash thrown on them. Most recently I began to petition to “beautify” our little community with flowers.

We were blessed when Love Inc. and People Helping People (PHP) came to our community and adopted us. For two years now we have been working together to fix a rather broken and bankrupt politcal and moral system. PHP has provided manpower and faith in us and today we partnered to plant flowers at the area businesses in cedar planters built by volunteers of the Ridgepoint Church of Holland.

By 6 a.m. on was on the job weeding and cleaning out a large landscaped area that need some love and color. We weed wacked, spread bark chips planted flower boxes and watered shrubs and by 8:30 a.m. two young people joined my team and weeded and planted and generally added their youthful energy and ideas to the team.  By 1 p.m. the town is ablaze in colorful blooms of donated flowers and already I feel the moral of the area rising.

We are all volunteers working ‘in community’ to pay our blessings forward.  It’s amazing what faith in a community and a few flowers in a hand-built cedar pot can do!

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