By: Ramsey Nix
Five months ago I wrote a column about an old friend with a crazy idea. He wanted the next U.S. president to agree to plant an organic farm on the grounds of the White House. To promote this idea, he and two buddies were driving a double-decker school bus (one upside-down school bus fused onto the roof of another) with an organic garden growing in the hull of the top bus across the country. On their way from San Francisco to D.C., in time for the election, his group stopped by to see me in Georgia.
The White House Organic Farm Project bus (the WHO bus) was just as impressive as their big idea– they wanted public school children to grow food for the next president and for school lunch programs and food pantries in D.C., on the White House lawn. However, I have to admit I was skeptical. With all the vitriol associated with the final days of the presidential race, I thought, “Isn’t this cute? These guys want to grow a garden. Good luck with that.”
By the time they rolled into our nation’s capital, the “Wall Street Journal” cited their efforts in a story. On inauguration day, they got a write-up in the “Washington Post.” My friends and their crazy idea had arrived. Still, I doubted their idea would come to fruition.
On the first day of spring, I watched Michelle Obama and a group of elementary school students break ground on the South Lawn of the White House for a fruit and vegetable garden on a morning news broadcast. I couldn’t believe it.
“Activism really works!” I yelled to my husband.
“Wow! Activism really works!” I e-mailed to my friends.
I even called my mom. “Hey, mama. Turn on the news! That idea I told you about … it’s happening!”
While the White House garden will not solve world hunger, end war, or make our economy solvent again, it has given me a sense of optimism and hope. It has prompted my own political awakening. I realize that progress is possible. We have a new administration that is open to ideas and tuned into what the people are saying.
As I watched the first lady and those beautiful children turn over fresh soil for what would be termed a “modern-day victory garden,” I traded in my cynicism for activism. It really works.
Published in the April 2, 2009 Edition