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Editorial: Cultivating community

Communities can unite in common purpose for many good and different reasons ó for example, improving schools, launching anti-gang initiatives, mentoring at-risk youth, promoting better race relations.
Or growing tasty tomatoes.
The latter is one of the rewards that residents of Fleming Heights are reaping from their new community garden off Lash Drive. As a story in Thursday’s Post recounted, residents of the city housing complex for senior citizens came up with the idea during a brain-storming session about improving the livability of their neighborhood. While several suggestions were kicked around, it was the garden suggestion that took root and brought residents together.
And with good reason: Along with the summer bounty of tomatoes, corn, squash and other vegetables, the garden also encourages seniors to remain active ó an essential ingredient of healthy aging. Given the inevitable battles against hungry rabbits and other varmints, the garden also has called on residents’ resilience and resourcefulness in dealing with life’s adversities, of which gardeners and older citizens have more than their fair share. But perhaps the most striking thing about the garden is the enthusiasm and zest it has inspired among in its cultivators. Rather than waste away in rocking chairs, these senior citizens are reaching for rakes and hoes and looking forward to the next harvest.
Perhaps there’s a lesson here for other neighborhoods looking for ways to cultivate closer bonds, weed out corruptive influences and improve the local landscape. Thriving neighborhoods, like thriving towns and cities, have the ability to establish priorities, set tangible goals and persevere through setbacks to reach them. We can cultivate gardens or surrender to the forces of blight and decay. The choice is ours.
Look around your neighborhood, town or city. There’s a lot of fallow soil out there waiting for seed and water ó both literally and figuratively. But it takes commitment and a shared sense of purpose to make things happen. When people labor over common ground, good things can follow ó including cantaloupes and cucumbers.

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