“The shortest distance between two people is a story”
Learn about actions, practices and projects that strengthen the social vitality of community!
The Community Legacy Program of Our United Villages believes that storytelling is a bridge of shared learning that connects people from all backgrounds, and enhances our social vitality.
Legacy Stories illuminate a myriad of actions, practices and projects performed by everyday people for the benefit of community. Through text, photos and video, groups share their ideas, how they moved them into action, and the difference they are making. Browse stories by themes to learn about positive efforts underway in our community, and let inspiration guide you in creating your own community legacy.
Share a story- Think about your neighbors, people you know throughout community who are creating legacies – big or small; put yourself in the picture. Share the stories you want future generations to tell about experiences in neighborhoods today.
For more stories- read about our Community History Storytelling events.
By: Dan Miele | July 2014
Photos By: Adrienne Barnett
An ambulance howls, jackhammers pound, streetcars squeal, smartphones beep and there’s not a moment to think. The din of the city can leave the mind disjointed and in a state of chaos, unable to connect with our communities and the more important aspects in life. That same disconnection with community leads many to a life of lack and addiction — victims of our modern society.But students through New Avenues for Youth gather at Sunflower Farm in North Portland on a weekly basis to take a step back from the intensity of city-life and retune their energies to learning new life skills. It also offers them the opportunity to hone their photography skills in a natural space where photo-subjects abound, with classes taught by the farm’s director, Donna Holmes.
They come to learn how to plant a variety of crops and watch them grow in gardens they build, to spend time with like-minded individuals and maybe more importantly, to build a community around a place that lets people be who they truly are and drop any concerns they may hold from their city life.The farm took shape from a piece of land overrun by weeds, shrubs, and blackberry brambles. With the help of the young students and community support, Sunflower Farm was cleared and made arable. It boasts numerous garden beds, a pond, a chicken coop and much more planned for the future. Donna purchased the land as part of the “Planting Seeds of Hope” program. She sees it as a way to provide fresh fruit and vegetables to homeless youth who wouldn’t otherwise have access to it —
at the same time lessening erosion and bringing life back to the soil.
As Memphis, one of the garden’s regular visitors put it, “When we got here it was just brush and logs, so it gave me an opportunity to use my time effectively to create something. But I think we all see it as more than a garden and more of a mission, you could say.” He heard about the program through his photography friends, but also saw it is as a means to learn leadership skills. “It’s healthy, and really all about personal growth and team communication. You’re also getting an education in growing plants, which takes time.”
Some of the students have come and gone, but for those who’ve stayed, it has proven to be a self-motivating cause they can rely on. “It gives us motivation to get out of the city and be doing something that’s good for you and good for everyone around you. It’s not just houses out here,” Memphis said. With the summer months upon us, the garden now produces bountiful produce that all the team members harvest and prepare right on the spot in the farm’s kitchen. It shows how feasible it is to create a closed circle of production — farm to table — with the cooperation of community members, even in a suburban environment; and all while eating good food and having a blast in the process. Memphis foresees a bright future for the program: “I think it is going to expand and there will be a lot more projects. We’ve really just scratched the surface.” And it’s that kind of thinking that leads to the development of strong community gathering places. Although there is still much to do, the seeds of change have already been planted by this group of dedicated young gardeners.