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Diary of a Worm’s Life in a Home “Growing Power” Box and Garden

PLEASE NOTE: The articles archived here were originally posted to the online community resource; many internal textual and hyper-textual references to that site remain as written.

GP Box 4/22/06
Cilantro & Arugula in planters
Cilantro & Arugula in planters
Sun Room 03/17/06
Sun Room 03/17/06

May 31, 2006 Update to Growing Power Headquarters

Dear Will and Sally,

I want to thank you and all the people at Growing Power for sharing with me, time after time, how “Together We Are Growing Power.” This is my last posting for May on my home model Growing Power web site. Since I do not believe you read the “diary of a worm”, I am sending this one to you via email. Perhaps you, at least Sally, will have time to read it.

The last few weeks I have been putting the “same old system” to work in my garden.
I now have a 3 to 4 foot static compost pile, a worm depository outside, and a worm-casting box. The box is full of fresh rough compost but awaits the many worms slowly coming up through the screen in the Growing Power Box in the sunroom. I have a couple of casting tea system in place and even done a little planting outside. The next few days till Sunday eve, and Wednesday, after I return from the potential Growing Power farm up north with my wife, son and grandchildren, till Sunday, 11th I hope to complete the planting. After that I will be in New Orleans with some youth for a mission trip. It looks like one of the jobs we will be assigned to be cleaning up the botanical gardens in New Orleans.

I feel proud and humbled by this experience. Proud that I have gone this far and recorded it for better and worse and humbled by the knowledge I am a very small piece in a power of nature that has been around for a long time and is becoming a worldwide movement again for urban, organic, affordable and sustainable food.

Thank you for introducing me to the worm — the heart of the Growing Power method you have developed. I can hardly drive by the city dump or a Starbucks without going in looking for wood chips or coffee grounds to make the compost to feed my worms. Or should I say to feed my “livestock”.

As you said again Monday on the tour, Will, this system is simple but it takes a lot of work and trial and error to make it work right. I noticed on the tour last Monday that even you at Growing Power had made changes in the formula for the mix and the compost since the last workshop in May.

This is what is happening to me with the Growing Power Box. It is like but not like any of the systems you have at Growing Power. After the worms are mostly out of it, I will use the soil for the garden, but next fall make some modifications to the box and its contents.

Sally says to check with Will before I go off promoting ideas like using the grassy city owned empty lots on the North side for Growing Power lots for youth and adults. I would but I figure that you do not need me any longer calling you up or emailing you with questions and suggestions. The knowledge I have received from you, Will, far exceeds what I am doing with it. Yes, I do have many questions but need to start looking for answers in my system and self before turning to you and the staff there.

Starting tomorrow, June 1st, when Tegan Dowling, my wiki gnome, starts a new month for the diary I will change the introductory words and pictures to reflect my experiment with outside Growing Power rather than in the sunroom. Check it out by clicking on the site below. The pictures at least should be worth the look. But it is the same old, same old as you would say.

Someday, when my garden is flourishing I hope to invite you two and the staff at Growing Power over for lunch on the deck where you can sit, relax and eat the healthy food that is growing before you. Till that day, keep in touch and I will be sneaking over for a tour or material or to simply ask a question.

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May 30, 2006 It is all about Worms

Today, spending a lot of time and energy preparing the garden I realized more deeply how essential worms are to this method of growing.

Loren, with a little help from me, finished the new worm condo today. It is large and will be the place where the worms can eat and produce castings all summer long. I found some other types of straining bags to use to make compost tea. With the rain showers we got today I had a chance to make a lot of tea today for the garden. The new worm condo will also be a source. I hope to set up something on the rain gutter spout in front of the house so I can water the grass and flowers in front with this “miracle grow tea” from castings produced by worms. Also today I got some screening to fit over the top of my Growing Power Box. There are still a lot of worms in it that I need to move to the worm condo before I get to use this rich soil of castings and compost to enrich the garden. I put some rotten bananas, some coffee grounds and some old dates with the compost on top of the screen to really entice the worms to come through the screen. Also I placed burlap over the Growing Power Box as well as the new worm condo since worms like water and compost but not the sun.

I still have a lot of planting to do before June 11th but I can see the beginning fruits of my labor as the basil pops up on the mound, the lettuce along the trail comes up and the strawberries flourish. (Keeping the animals and birds away from the strawberries is a problem for tomorrow.)

Tonight I was able to complete the draft of my monthly newsletter, Living Stones. I try to put into it writings, jokes, pictures and stories that do not appear on this web site. It is free; check it out by just writing me for a copy at

Those promised pictures of the growing garden are coming June 1st.

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May 29, 2006 Got It Again

Although it was very hot today again, I did get some real work done in the garden. I planted the tomato plants, got some more worms out of the Growing Power Box, finally purchased some bags to make castings tea and learned more on my 5th tour of Growing Power. When we first went around the group to say why we were there at Growing Power, I said that “I was a slow learner.” However, the real reason was because my wife went with me on this tour. And while I learned a few more tactics about the same old, same old, Pat “got it.” I think she now feels a little more a part of the worldwide movement of affordable, sustainable, urban agriculture that Growing Power is.

A few of the things I learned from Will today are: Use bananas in the compost to get the worms out of the box through the screen; the mixture now used for the inside planters is ˝ castings and ˝ coyer rather than 1/3 of each plus 1/3 of compost. Also I discovered that I should feed my worms in the outdoor depository more than compost, things like coffee grounds. As Will said today, the basic system might be the same but each one varies and has to be adjusted to experience.

In June I will replace the pictures of the Growing Power box in the beginning with pictures of the Growing Power home model garden where now my worms are all being moved and the Growing Power work is in full swing. After the box is free of most worms, I will put all the soil from the box into the garden, and use the summer to make some repairs and improvements on the box.

Tonight on the 10 o’clock news one of the local TV stations did a brief tribute to the local military men and women who have lost their lives in Iraq. My heart was saddened especially when one of the youth I served was on the screen. This memorial was surrounded with other sad stories of the increased violence in Iraq and the rising gasoline prices, resulting, I believe, from the control of oil, which is represented by this war. How sad that some profit while others lose their lives and the violence increases.

It seems like whenever there is increase in war violence there is an increase in local violence. There were 28 shootings of people over the Memorial Day weekend, five resulted in death. As we remember our fallen soldiers, we send others to kill or be killed and violence on our streets increases. Yes, God please bless America, the land of senseless violence at home and abroad. When will our government ever “get it”?

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May 28, 2006 Hot and Sorrowful

Today was the first real hot day of the year. I really did not notice it until I got home from Church and from my African nephew’s graduation party at the Church where I used to work. Then I found an excuse for not working in the garden since I had to go to the lumber place to pick up the rest of the lumber Loren needs to work on the worm condo. By that time I came home there was only time for a little easy work on the garden. Loren says he will finish the worm box tomorrow but he really wants to go fishing also. Actually I would like to go fishing with him, but I feel an obligation to get some major work done on the garden.

Pat, my wife, has expressed an interest in going with me tomorrow at 4pm to the Growing Power tour. Although she has heard a lot about it from me, it will be good for her to hear Will Allen and take the tour for herself. One of the things I hope to get done tomorrow is to plant my tomato plants. Doing that around Memorial Day is a tradition for me, except this year it will be with the plants I grew from seed rather than plants I purchased. It will probably be hot also tomorrow … but no more excuses.

Speaking of Memorial Day makes me sorrowful. After nearly 2500 soldiers dying in Iraq and so many thousands being seriously injured, now I am more numbed to the great pain than I was the first year or so of the war. The turning point of pain and conflict over these deaths probably came when I attended the funeral of a young man whom I knew at my first job as a youth minister. He was one of these free and easy-living young men who had so much to live for. The merger of faith and patriotism around this war did not mix for me. Believing the war is immoral and wrong and doing more harm than good to people of Iraq and the world, I am torn between my sense of support for our soldiers and veterans and my outrage at our government for sending them there to be killed or to kill.

Maybe after the first Gulf War in Iraq if, instead of a boycott followed by a war, we would have gone there with worms, tilapia and knowledge of Growing Power, we could have won the hearts and minds of Iraqis and have witnessed the regime, former US ally-turned-enemy, tumbled a lot sooner and without so much violence. I really believe violence breeds violencel, and that creative nonviolence, like Growing Power, breeds more creative nonviolence and love. “When will they ever learn?”

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May 27, 2006 Two For Two

Today we went to visit my son’s family in Shawano country since a few days ago was our granddaughter’s second birthday. Across the highway from my son’s home is a dairy farm family who have a young boy who also turned two this month. Like my two-year-old granddaughter this two-year-old also has two brothers. One of the best compliments of the day came after dinner when the parents, young adults, were around the table talking, and my wife was in the kitchen cleaning up. The six children and I were playing some silly game I invented where I pretend to sleep and they wake me up. My oldest grandson said to his friends: “Didn’t I tell you that my grandfather is lots of fun?”

I did get some Growing Power work done while there. It seems that my son and daughter-in-law had moved the 14 wheelbarrows of cow manure and hay we had moved from across the street to their land to another spot. My daughter-in-law than decided to move the pile again, using some borrowed equipment. However, she only moved half the pile when she got stuck in the mud. So I spent a little time today making the two piles of compost into one. Having much more manure than hay, the pile was too hot for worms. My daughter-in-law got out some cardboard boxes and cut them up to provide more carbon. When my son got home from work he pointed out there was a patch of cut hay nearby that we could rake into the pile. I was hoping to bring worms up in about a week but we will wait and see.

Speaking of compost and worms, I would like to remind all of you in Milwaukee or nearby that there is a family tour by Will Allen of Growing Power on Memorial Day at 4pm. Growing Power is at 55th and Silver Spring. So bring the children, elders and yourself to this Memorial Day event. My first tour of Growing Power is what inspired me to start my home Growing Power model and this diary. Whether you garden or you do not, you do eat. Growing Power is all about organic, urban, affordable, sustainable agriculture. This tour will change the way you look at food and how it is grown, and radically change your view of worms. So Memorial Day can be a “two for” event, celebrating however you may, topped off by with a tour of Growing Power.

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May 26, 2006 Bit of Garden

Tonight for our family here and to bring with us to the homeless shelter, I made some really good chili. One of the women at the shelter complimented me on the thick chili we served over taco chips. I told her I was glad that she enjoyed it, because, not using receipes, I never make the same thing twice. I also told her that I would have made it sharper but had been warned by my wife that because of the number of children at the shelter I should keep the spicy hotness down. Thus I added only one red-hot cayenne crushed pepper into the chili.

This is where the garden comes in. The hot pepper came from our garden last year. We have them hanging on a string over the sink in the kitchen. Since all four of us enjoy spicy food we have used many of them. In fact, when I think about it almost every meal I have made this week has a bit of the garden in it, be it fresh cilantro in yesterday’s pasta dish, greens from the Growing Power box for the salad, or Uncle Bob’s SPC Mint (spearmint, peppermint, common mint), which I use a lot in cooking.

Of course come late July through Christmas the amount of garden food in our meals will dramatically increase, as we’ll have grape leaves, tomatoes, eggplants, lettuce and more.

I got a couple good hours of working in the garden in today. I built a Growing Power mound for the basil. (You can never have too much basil according to my 100% Italian wife.) I will post a picture soon but basically a mound is built of compost, worms, seeds, and castings on top. With this method you can reuse the mound every year, just adding some fresh compost and plant the seeds by broadcasting rather than row planting. I also have some basil from inside the sunroom transplanted in a planter and some transplanted in a traditional row. We will see which of the three basils does the best. I would grow almost everything in mounds but I do not have enough compost yet.

Tomorrow two of us, Pat and I, are going up north to my other son’s house and land. This week my granddaughter was two. I will check on the progress of their compost pile and hopefully when I go up there for a few days in a week or two, it will be ready for worms. I added some more worms today, from the Growing Power Box and from digging in the garden, to the worm depository outside. Loren thinks he will have the worm condo done Sunday or Monday - days he has off of work.

Just like my cooking, every garden every year is different. You just never know where a bit of garden will show up.

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May 25, 2006 Same Old Work Day

Today was the first day this spring that I felt that I got a significant amount of work done in the garden. I planted some lettuce and transplanted some basil from inside to outside, grew the compost pile, purchased a few things for the system, and took worms and castings out of the sunroom Growing Power box. The castings I am using with coconut shavings to cover the seeds or plant roots, and the worms, for now, are going to the worm depository. Loren, after work today, got some work done on the worm condo we are building for the worms to work their magic of turning compost into valuable castings. So for now the worms, the livestock of this system, go to a temporary shelter instead of their new summer home. (For the winter they will come back inside to the Growing Power box full of fresh compost.) Giving up on finding an empty barrel, I placed an empty garbage container under the rain gutter drain on the garage roof. Now all I need to do is find some cheesecloth to hold castings and I can make some fertile tea from the rain to water my garden.

The Growing Power box might not have been very successful this first year as a source of food but it turned out to be a wonderful source of creating castings and worms. Castings are sold wholesale at Growing Power for $75 a 5-gallon bucket. I already have removed two buckets from my Growing Power Box and have much more to go.

The castings, soil and “tea” made from it really works. As I previously mentioned, I put some on my strawberry patch that has never produced strawberries and today I noticed we have strawberries growing.

This type of Growing Power gardening reminds me of my days as a youth minister in Church. My job was full of details and, for the most part, was working to prepare things for my adult youth minister who did the real work for the youth, teaching, service trips, recreational activates etc. This is how my work as a gardener now works. I prepare all the details, building the compost pile, feeding the worms, put a container to catch the rain water, etc. The worms, seeds, sun and water to do the work, doing what they do naturally.

A couple highlights today. Yesterday was my granddaughter’s birthday. She was two. Today was my younger son’s birthday. He was 34. I understand Carolee celebrated her birthday by going to Dairy Queen with her parents and brothers for dinner. (Pat and I will go there Saturday for some celebrating.) For my son, I cooked one of his favorite meals and after Pat got home from work tonight we had some cake. Both had simple celebrations on their birthdays. The difference was that Carolee, in her youthful innocence, did not think of the past or future. My son was retrospective about his life and concerned about his future. Being old in age and experience but childlike at heart, I can relate to both. But I will take the two-year-old birthday spirit any day over the 34-year-old one.

The Catholic Archbishop of Milwaukee made the headlines today by criticizing the Catholic Democratic Governor over his support of stem cell research from fertilized embryos discarded by fertility clinics. My response is, why does he not write letters and get upset with Republicans for the ‘immoral and illegal’ preemptive war in Iraq, or get upset with the Republicans in the State legislature who have referendums on the ballot this fall to bring back the death penalty in Wisconsin and to deny same-sex couple basic rights such as health insurance on a partner’s account? Where is the moral outrage over these life/death issues?
Personally, I agree with the saying on my bumper sticker that reads: “God is Not a Republican or a Democrat.”

On a more pleasant note, two of my good friends since the sixties came to my defense from the persons who are personally attacking me on the Westside list-serv for my support of a local residence for persons with disabilities. I feel like I should not need this kind of support to say what I believe without fear but it sure made me feel good to get it. I quickly forwarded the letter to my wife, who feels sometimes, like she is being criticized when I am. Like me she should not care, but like me she does.

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May 24, 2006 Dig, Plant and Grow

Today I made final preparations for the garden. Now it is just time to dig, plant and grow. We had the rest of the salad greens from the Growing Power Box tonight at dinner and now are trying to extract some worms, using a screen with “fresh food” (compost) on top to draw them up. The castings and compost from the box will go in the garden and the worms into the new condo that Loren is building so they can work and produce more castings.

The plants growing inside below the box are doing fine: tomatoes, hot and green peppers, flowers, various mints, lettuce, eggplant, beans, basil and more. Some, mostly herbs, will go in pots along the deck and on the driveway, and the rest in garden. The grape leave vines just come back each year and the more you pick them the more they grow. The herbs and strawberries already in the garden are growing, but I wish the strawberries would do more than flower.

I purchased a screen today to get worms out of box but still need to find an empty barrel to collect the rainwater and make some good worm tea to put on the plants.

This is like one of those ripe moments of life that you only need to dig into it, plant the seed and watch it grow.

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May 23, 2006 About Time

There is a time for everything underneath the sun. Today was the time for me to get some good time in the garden. Actually I got the growing area in front of the house, which for image is important, cleaned up and put some new wood chips on it. In most neighborhoods in America, people feel judged by their front lawn and landscaping. I am not sure why that is, but I am going with the flow.

I did spend some time on the back yard putting in the rubber strips along my final two walkways. Now I need to work the ground and start planting. Loren has been working hard at his painting job, so he has not had time yet to built my worm condo to produce castings. But as soon as I can get an old screen I am going to start pulling worms out of the Growing Power Box for the Worm Condo and than use the ground, mostly castings in the box, in the garden. My goal is to get most of the planting done before I go to Green Bay for a few days in early June and certainly well before I go on a mission trip with some youth to New Orleans on June 11th.

Also I found out today that hurricane season starts next week, June 1st. From what I understand New Orleans is a long way away from recovering from Katrina of last year as this new time for hurricanes starts.

Today, I found one secret of success for prioritizing my time toward the garden: Do not read my email until I am finished working on the garden. This way I am not tempted to respond or react to emails before I have gotten some good work done on the garden. Tomorrow morning I have a Faith In Recovery - - meeting, but on the way home I will stop at the dump for woodchips, and at the coffee shop for grounds, and get right to work when I get back.

I need to find some other way, outside of dependency for questions and advice to keep in contact with the Growing Power Center on 55th and Silver Spring. They have given me more knowledge and help than I have effectively used at this time. Right now I need to put to work my limited knowledge and make the garden a priority till June 11th.

I had time tonight to work on Day 5 of my pictorial Guatemalan diary, “Buried in Guatemala”. Working on the pictures took longer than the writing for the morning of April 9th, Psalm Sunday, that I was working on.

Time is relative they say. I know that a long time ago when I was in prison (another story) time went slow when I thought about it, so I tried not to think about it. I know that when I am working on the garden time flies by, since I am not thinking about time when I am working on something I like to do. The lesson I get from all this is the old one of living in the moment as fully as possible, be it in prison or in the garden. Living in the moment you can flow with the river of time peacefully.

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May 22, 2006 Good or Bad Waste Day

Today was a good waste day for my new compost pile. My grass clippings and my neighborhood’s were added, plus lots of coffee grounds from a coffee shop, plus a big box of wood chips from the dump, plus some table scraps form our kitchen. However, the pile decomposes almost as fast as you compose it.

I forget what the ratio is (but it is great), of waste materials to compost materials. Once you put the worms into the rough compost it decomposes even further when it becomes castings. So many pounds of free waste become less pounds of valuable waste, which becomes less but very valuable castings. Value increases as the waste decreases. Whoever said there is no money in keeping garbage out of landfills? Now I understand why the big waste corporations are not too enthused on the organic Growing Power movement. Of course this whole process is made possible by the livestock, the worms.

Growing Power is experimenting with another use of garbage or waste, the Digester. Here again is the drawing of that process that takes wastes and produces not only compost and liquid for fish to feed on but also energy. The major digester is almost finished at Growing Power.

Another type of waste that does not produce any Growing Power energy is reacting to persons who insult you and personally attack you because they do not agree with your message. It is often easier to attack the messenger than deal with the message. I have been called ‘greedy’ and all kinds of names because of my stand of trying to keep open a residence for disabled persons in the neighborhood. Some local politicians and a few residents are very vocal and actively trying to rid the neighborhood of “these people” as they were called at the zoning hearing last week. They are part of a bigger movement to zone out the poor, persons with a mental illness, marginalized from certain neighborhoods. The worst part is that they spend our taxpayers’ money to discriminate and say ‘Not in My Neighborhood’ (NIMN). I am proud of myself for not reacting to two personal attacks posted on the neighborhood web site today. However, my non-confrontational response to one of them really seems to get them angry. It might have been better to say nothing. This is a good chance for me to practice the “creative nonviolence” that I always preach and to learn some lessons from my worms, who keeps on producing positive castings as long as they are allowed to.

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May 21, 2006 No Graduation from Worms

As I mentioned yesterday I had a good reason for not working on my for Growing Power garden today: my African niece and nephew were graduating from Marquette University. Before going to the graduation event, I stopped by some friends’ house whose son, a young man I had known for a long time and traveled with on a mission trip to Monterey Mexico, was having an open house for his receiving the sacrament of Confirmation today. As soon as I walked in, late into the event, I was told they were talking about me, at least about my interest in worms and Growing Power, particularly the letter I wrote to political people recently on using vacant lots. I found myself talking about my ‘livestock’, worms, my garden, castings and all sorts of stuff. Finally my wife came out to the living room to tell me that my friend the young man being confirmed was in the kitchen waiting for me.

After the graduation of my African niece, some other friends of ours who also were her sponsors took her and her boyfriend, a Nigerian young man from Chicago, out to dinner. Our friends also have a son, who was the other young man on the mission trip to Mexico and who is interested in Growing Power. Somehow the conversation turned to worms and I found myself talking about worms, compost and castings again. My niece’s boyfriend, an Evens Scholar and potential entrepreneur, was especially interested. I am not sure how well casting and worms go along with dinner but there was an interest, some humor and naturally I was glad to supply the material.

Finally tonight I watched something we had recorded on TV and I thought I had gotten away from worm talk for a while. However, before writing this posting, I checked my email and lo and behold I found this joke from one of my friends who has an email joke ministry:

A minister decided that a visual demonstration would add emphasis to his Sunday sermon.
Four worms were placed into four separate jars.
The first worm was put into a container of alcohol.
The second worm was put into a container of cigarette smoke.
The third worm was put into a container of chocolate syrup.
The fourth worm was put into a container of good clean soil.
At the conclusion of the sermon, the Minister reported the following results:
The first worm in alcohol - Dead.
The second worm in cigarette smoke - Dead.
Third worm in chocolate syrup - Dead.
Fourth worm in good clean soil - Alive.
So the Minister asked the congregation - What can you learn from this demonstration?
Maxine sitting in the back, quickly raised her hand and said, “As long as you drink, smoke and eat chocolate, you won’t have worms!”

I guess once you are into worms there is no getting away from them.

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May 20, 2006 Perfect But

Today was perfect day for working outside, but I did other things, like making some house visits as a member of St Vincent de Paul society - a group of people that offer stuff like beds and stoves to people in need. There was other stuff, too, like sleeping-in and writing emails that kept me away, but I am not proud of these “but” reasons. Finally late this afternoon I got outside, filled a bunch of planters with Growing Power Mix (Castings, Compost and shavings from coconuts) to host the herbs outside from the herbs I have growing inside. Also

I got a little work done on the upside down peace symbol that I am using for walkways through the garden. Real pictures are coming after things look better in the garden.

Tomorrow I have an African niece and nephew graduating from Marquette. In Sierra Leone, Africa, where they are from, you call your elders “aunt” and “uncle.” Since I have already have the handle “Bob’s Your Uncle,” an English slang saying for “Don’t worry, Be happy” I really got into this “uncle” thing with them and my other niece from Sierra Leone. My other niece would also be graduating tomorrow but she took some time off of school to marry and have a baby. However, her husband, from Liberia (who also calls me “uncle Bob”), is graduating with a Master’s degree from UWM tomorrow. I wonder if that makes me a Great Uncle to their child.

All this is to say my ‘but’ reason tomorrow for not working so hard on the garden will be the graduations. However, I am starting to feel good about the model home Growing Power garden and believe I will start making it one of my priorities each day and get it done timely. My one African niece, after a graduation liturgy we attended with her tonight, said she would help with the garden. Actually Sierra Leone, her home country as well as the home country of my also-graduating nephew and other niece, is a good place for Growing Power to flourish. The weather is warm and sunny, great for all-year-around growing and raising Tilapia. It is also a good place for Growing Power because it is the poorest country in the world, with the highest mortality rate among children. If you are interested in learning more about Sierra Leone and how you may help this forgotten place you can check out the web site of Friends Across, Inc, started by my nephew who is in political exile from there. You can reach it at:

The Milwaukee Brewers had good news but bad news night. The good news is that they scored 10 runs but the bad news was the other team scored 16 runs and kicked their ‘buts’.

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May 19, 2006 Upright Day

Today I finished tearing up the rest of the lawn in the back yard. Tomorrow starts preparing the area for planting. Besides the strawberries there are two types of mint and one unknown plant growing in the garden already from last year’s effort. The rest will be planted in the next few weeks; many of the plants are seedlings now in the Sun Room. For every two layers the new compost pile grows, it seems to shrink a layer. Loren twisted his ankle, so work on the worm condo box for castings has stopped as well as his ability to go to work.

Working on Growing Power stuff leaves the mind with time to ponder. While working on the garden today, I wondered why all the agencies that claim to advocate for affordable housing for poor and persons with mental health are not publicly supporting keeping open the transitional living situation for 92 persons for mental illness that a local alderman and some residents are trying to close down. Last night, a decision on granting their request for “reasonable accommodation” was put off to June 8th. Maybe I will write to some of these agencies and organizations and ask them to write to the mayor and aldermen to put an end to this “zoning out” of the poor and using taxpayers’ money to support discrimination. Of course I understand that many of these agencies need to be careful and diplomatic about criticizing the city, county or state organizations that help finance them. One of the advantages of being unemployed is that you need not worry about offending anyone when you speak and try to do the ‘right thing.’

I wrote again to the editors of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the reporter doing the series called “Abandoning our mentally ill”. Again I asked them to change the name of the title, pointing out that if they were doing a story on persons with cancer they would not call them “cancerous.” Why label persons with a mental illness ‘mentally ill’? Again I heard from the reporter saying she agrees with me but again there will probably be no change. Labels and stigmas are among the worst parts of mental illness. The special prosecutor for the city attorney last night at the hearing kept calling the residents of the affordable housing for persons with mental illness “these people.” With humans there can be a lot in words. In nature this seems not to be so important. Thank God.

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May 18, Almost Complete System

The photo to left is a picture of the three levels of compost and worms now in my garden. In the bottom of the picture is the worm depository (about 4 feet), the place that I created for worms to breed and grow all year around. In the middle is the rest of the rough compost (about 2–3 feet), from which I will take the worms for the depository and casting box and use the compost to feed worms and for the garden. In the back is the longest pile, about 7–8 feet long, of newly made compost. I have about 10 layers of carbon, leaves, wood chips, cardboard and nitrogen, fresh grass, coffee grounds, table scraps, dirt. Not shown and not built yet is the worm condo where worms will be working to create castings from rough compost. There you have the four levels for a sustainable system: new compost, rough compost, depository for growing worms and worm box for making castings.

Tonight was a city hearing about closing down a low-income housing unit for about 92 persons with a major mental illness. I was worried that the Alderman and some determined neighbors were finally going to close it until I got to the hearing. There I found that the lawyer for the housing corporation was the same lawyer that has won case after case when the city tried to “zone out” poor persons with mental illness. Also there were more persons registered for the proposal to make the place a “reasonable accommodation” than against it. And finally the Chairperson of the board of Zoning appeals is now more sensitive to discrimination issues after the city has lost so many in Federal Courts. The home might still loose on a local level but I am confident they will win on a higher federal level, since discrimination against persons with disabilities is illegal. Unlike garden systems, the justice system is more complicated and vulnerable to political manipulation.

We all need food and shelter, even worms. Why is it that some persons want to deny it to other persons who are poor and ill? Political systems, like the Board of Zoning Appeals, have a lot to learn from Growing Power. Let’s hope they learn before they spend too much more taxpayers’ money trying to discriminate.

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May 17, 2006 Strawberry Fields Forever

Today while working on developing my Home Growing Power Garden, I noticed some would-be strawberry plants a friend had given to us, when we first moved here, are now starting to flower. I quickly put some compost and coyer mix around them and watered them with tea (overflow from the castings) from the Growing Power Box. Maybe this is a sign of things to come from this garden.

Doing a home model Growing Power garden is taking a lot more work that the Growing Power box did. I need some help and some more materials, like 55-gallon empty barrels, old screen windows to sort out worms and soil, more compost mix, nitrogen and carbon. I will put the call out for my help tomorrow from local residents or if any of you can help you can contact me via my email address .

The results of my survey of “Why are there so many city owned vacant lots when people go hungry?” to 75 political-minded local persons on my email list, unlike the budding strawberry flowers, did not flower. Of the 75 persons sent the email, only 5 responded. Three were from friends who wondered the same question of why the city does not link up with the great resource of Growing Power and grow some affordable organic food on these vacant lots. One was from a Growing Power staff person, who not reading my posting on this site, thought I was saying that I was saying Growing Power, Inc., not the city, owned the lots. The other one was from an elected country official that said how Habitat was building homes on some of the lots (very few) and how the county had tried and failed in another program to promote community gardens. One of the problems, he stated, was getting ownership of vacant lots and clearing the lots for growing. I reminded him that the lots I am talking about are already city owned, cleared, and, in fact, have grass growing on them. It would be nice to think the city will build affordable housing in the near future on all of them but unfortunately that is not going to happen. In fact, if the local politicians get their way tomorrow night at a city zoning hearing, one longtime home for 90 low-income residents on the Westside with a major mental illness will be closed down because some residents do not want this facility in their neighborhood. The city zones-out poor people faster than it will ever offer affordable housing. The rest of the political and media types that I send this letter to did not bother to respond. They either did not read the email, did not want to show concern like my three friends did, felt uncomfortable about responding or simply just ignored it. Results: We will not find strawberry fields or any other kind of growing vegetables or fruits in the many city owned vacant lots in low-income neighborhoods where hunger is greatest in the near future. Vacant lots forever, rather than strawberry fields forever.

Did any of you try asking the same question in other cities? Any response?

It started to rain when I was going to take some new pictures, so, except for the picture of the strawberry plants above, new ones will need to wait till tomorrow.

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May 16, 2006 Fortunate or Unfortunate

Today Loren was painting in a suburb when it rained, sending him home. That was unfortunate. However, when I got home around noon, seeing Loren here I reminded him of my interest in building a worm box for outside to make castings. Since it was bright and sunny here, he started working on it today. That was fortunate.

Also tonight, with the good weather here, I dug up some more grass in the backyard, making more compost and more room for the garden. That was also fortunate.

Some of my neighbors on the Westside are very determined to close down a large rooming house apartment that has existed for a long time serving low income residents of the Westside who have a mental illness. They claim it is for the good of the residents but I think if the residents had a say they would say they want to stay. Being in a poorly run rooming house community is better than being on the streets. With affordable low-income housing being so hard to attain, what is fortunate for some of the neighbors, closing the home, will be very unfortunate for the residents of this home.

Today I realized that to slow down my life I must set my priorities and limit my activities. So in no particular order here are my top spiritual priorities: being present to family and friends; working in growing power movement; my writing; my work in Faith and Recovery. This is going to mean less involvement in such things as advocating for peace and social justice. That is unfortunate. However, by focusing on these spiritual goals that bring me peace I believe I can be a better person, thus bringing better fortune to others. Sometimes the more you remove yourself from the world, the more you are in the world.

Organic farmers in Guatemala

Tomorrow, weather permitting I will take pictures of the changes going on in my urban Growing Power experiment and present them to you. For now here is a picture from my Guatemala Diary, Day four, of a group of men in the mountains of Guatemala who are building an organic sustainable farm with tilapia, compost, worms and castings, same old, same old, as in Growing Power here, in Guatemala. Guatemala Diary?. Also vacant lots vs. growing lots survey results tomorrow.

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May 15, 2006 Same Old, Same Old

At the Growing Power workshop Will Allen kept saying over and over again it was the SAME, referring to the different techniques of Growing Power. What he was trying to teach us was that it was the same ingredients - worms, compost and castings - and similar methods that ran throughout the whole system. Repetition can be a source of learning.

Once, many years ago, my wife and I were traveling out East with my son and his wife and our first grandson in a van. My favorite job was to sit in the back with our 1 1/2 year-old grandson and entertain him during the long journey. He had only a small vocabulary of about three or four words but one of them was ‘more’. When I would read him a book or play a silly game with him he would say ‘more.’ I would think that he wanted to read another book or play another game but he would say ‘no’. What he wanted was to repeat just what I had done. So I would, over and over again, until I got tired of it. Each time he would laugh or show his joy just as the first time. Each repetition or more was for him a new and exciting activity that he could explore, since it was familiar, deeper in depth.

Repeating the same things over and over again can also be a way of deception, making people think something is true that is not. Someone mentioned today how President Bush repeated over and over again “Weapons of Mass Destruction”, “9/11″ and “Al Quaida” with the name Iraq until many people believed, and some probably still do, there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and that Iraq was involved with Al Quaida and 9/11, although all that has proved to be untrue.

Also repetition or the same old, same old can be a source of boredom. I am sure we have all found that at times in our daily lives and activities.

So saying and doing the same old thing can be a source of learning, joy, deception, or boredom. It is somewhat up to us. For me, the same old, same old, in Growing Power is a source of joy and learning.

By the way we had the same old rainy and dark weather today. I did do a little bit of work on the sustainable Growing Power system, but still am nowhere close to where I should be. Maybe tomorrow will start a same old, same old, sunny day syndrome. Sunny or dark tomorrow, I do know that it is up to me whether I find joy, deception, learning and/or boredom in the same old, same old.

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May 14, 2006 Too Short Sun

This afternoon the sun came out for a few hours. I used the time to dig up more of my backyard lawn. Still much more to go! The grass and dirt I dug up, along with the weeds I pulled out, will make good compost on my slowly growing pile. I did a few other garden work things, but I will need to work harder this week, hopefully without much rain, to get back on my schedule to have the garden ready to grow by June 1st.

After my last visit up North I have given up much hope of turning some of my son’s land into a Growing Power Garden. With all the activities of my two grandsons, basketball camp, soccer, baseball, swimming lesson and all the stuff my son and daughter-in-law have going on, summer school, work, landscaping, working on the house etc, this leaves only Carolee to work on the garden. Given that she’s not quite two yet, I think this is too much for her. I was hoping the boys could come down here and stay for a while, go fishing and help me with my garden. But it does not look so good right now. I am sure they will have a small garden this year and there is always next year to expand it into a real Growing Power Garden.

Speaking of growing up in the fast lane, I need to remind myself to slow down. With my writing, advocating for persons in need, working with Faith In Recovery and the Growing Power Stuff I feel dizzy busy again. Martin Luther King once said something to the effect: ‘The busier I get the more time I need to take time out, be quiet and pray.’ This is something I instinctively know but still fail to do.

A life of hard rain of daily doings needs lots of slow sunny silent time to thrive.

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May 13, 2006 Down and Dirty

Refreshed from my trip up north, I came back to a dark and rainy Milwaukee. My plan was to come back and work all afternoon in the garden. But like in Green Bay, with the rain and wet ground, there was not much to do. I did pick up some coffee grounds from a store when I went out to get a Mother’s Day gift for my wife from my son, Peter, and myself. Tomorrow, if I cannot get out in the garden, I will just prepare all the mix of coconut shavings/casting/compost for the planters and fill them. If it is raining I will also have not many excuses for finishing up my Guatemala Diary, Buried in Guatemala?.

Yesterday, on the same day the Milwaukee Journal printed my letter to the editor on the Jenkins/Bartlett trial about accepting all persons - white former police officers and African American witnesses - with the same respect and dignity, I was blasted on the Westside Neighborhood list-serve for calling into question the alderman’s opposition to renewing a permit for Richardson House, a home for poor persons with a mental illness on this side of town. In response, I suggested that we Westside neighbors visit the place first and talk with the residents to see what they think is best for them. I think that will go over like a lead balloon.

My question about why not use the many city-owned vacant lots for Growing Power gardens is drawing small interest, some confusion, but is mostly being ignored by the 75 politically minded persons on my email list I sent it to.

Despite all this darkness and rejection, I am feeling pretty good. It is surprising how three young children can lift your spirits when others praise, reject or ignore you. If we could all enjoy such joy from watching cows.

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May 12, 2006 Watching Cows

Carolee watching the cows

It is another dark, rainy, windy day up north. However, my almost two-year-old granddaughter did notice that the rain had stopped for a while this morning and insisted ongoing outside. With the warning to her that it was very muddy and we would need to stay on the concrete and gravel in the driveway, I agreed to take her out. She got in her little car that I could push down the driveway. There is a dairy farm across the highway and the cows were out in the front pasture near the road. Once we stopped in the driveway facing the cows all she wanted to do is just watch the cows. After several minutes of watching cows I tried to move her but she said “NO.” She just wanted to watch the cows. She did notice and say the cows were “eating” and “pooping.” Finally the cows as a group started to move toward the barn (I do not know why) and it started to drizzle again. Then and only then did she agree to go back in.

I think some of this obsession with watching the cows is my fault. This morning after driving her two brothers to school, I told her that today I would be her teacher and she would be my student. As she was drinking milk I told her one of the lessons of the day was that Cows made milk. She got that one rather quickly and it sparked the interest in cows that she already had. Also she was with us the day we shoveled wheel barrels of cow “poop” from the dairy farm across the street to my son’s land to make a compost pile.

So today’s original lesson of “cows make milk,” has now expanded, by watching, to “Cows eat, poop and make milk.” The poop is made into compost to grow more for the cows to eat…you get the idea. The lessons of Growing Power are everywhere, even on a dark, windy day watching cows.

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May 11, 2006 Hard Rains

Today was a deep down windy rainy day up here in northern Wisconsin, back in Milwaukee and in Washington D.C. where my oldest son is for a memorial police event. The rain fell on all of us today, long and hard.

No Growing Power activity for me today was possible; although I did send the email on vacant lots I talked about last night.

The hard rains were softened for me today by the bundle of joy that is my almost two-year-old granddaughter. Although she is an outdoor girl, she was a just full of smiles around the house today. She was the sun that was missing from the hard rain.

Rainwater is an essential ingredient of Growing Power, as are sun, worms and compost. I wish I had my 55 gallon barrels collecting water off my garage and roof at my home today. Rainwater, without any chorine or other chemicals, mixed with fishing net ‘tea-bag’ of worm castings makes an excellent ‘tea’ to put on soil and plants. It is better than any ‘miracle grow’. I need to start making some calls around looking for the empty barrels. When I get them in place with ‘tea-bags’ I will provide a picture.

My hope for all is that you all have small bundle of joy to help you through the days of hard rain.

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May 10, 2006 Vacant Growing Land

There is a small group of us who hold a prayer vigil at the sites of a homicide victims in Milwaukee. On my way to the first vigil today I noticed numerous vacant lots with a sign on them saying “ No Trespassing, No Parking, No Dumping City Ordinance”. They were everywhere, especially along 27th street on the north side, a location of many of the homicides. At the site of the first vigil there was noise of city machinery in the background tearing down another vacant house creating another vacant lot.

Seeing all the grassy empty lots reminded me of a Growing Power project in Chicago were city owned vacant lots and land have been transformed into Growing Power gardens of flowers and vegetables by urban youth, under the guidance of a staff person from Growing Power.

At the workshop at Growing Power that I attended last week in this city there were many teens of various ethnic backgrounds from various parts of the USA. I was told that at the previous workshop there were a large number of Chicago teens and young adults in attendance. Growing Power has it roots in working with youth. I also remembered when Will, came to my house, how he showed Loren and me a power point presentation of all the wonderful work being done in the central city of Chicago with Growing Power gardens. It was very impressive, fruitful and impressive display of persons in an urban environment adding beauty and growing affordable organic food.

All the above is to ask a question to every political person I know: Why not in Milwaukee, the home of Growing Power? Yes, we have some neighborhood gardens here and there but, to my knowledge, no large-scale use of Growing Power vermiculture, use of worms, compost, and castings. Why not? I hear about a lot of block grants going to all kinds of city projects but not to people working together, using this method, to grow affordable oganic food and to add beauty to the city neighborhoods. Maybe I am not seeing it, outside of 55th and Silver Spring, home of GP, but I do not think so.

But I am seeing a lot of empty lots in areas that most need community-building projects like growing your own food. I understand that some of the lots will eventually be made into affordable housing that we sorely need. However for the lots that are not being developed and for ones that are in the waiting process, why are we not turning them into Growing Power gardens? What is it the politicians of Chicago know that the politicians of Milwaukee do not know? Why are the youth and young adults of Chicago more capable of growing gardens of beauty and food using this method, which is growing in popularity all over the world? Or maybe they are not more capable and it is just politics blocking us from transforming waste via worms into food and flowers. All politicians in the city claim to be committed to eliminating the violence in our city, especially with urban youth. Perhaps this is one good way!

Tomorrow I will send this question to all the people in politics in my email address book. We will see what they say or do not say. I will let you know the results. You may want to ask the same question in your communities. Why, when many in our city go hungry, is there vacant growing power land?

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May 9, 2006 Getting It Right and Wrong

Today I got it right in terms of Growing Power: found some sources of compost (local coffee shop and my neighbor’s grass), dug up some more lawn in the back and put it in the new and bigger compost pile, and transplanted some tulips my neighbor gave to me. I also picked a bunch of fresh cilantro from the Growing Power Box. My wife Pat wants me to keep some fresh in the fridge for a while. Otherwise I would let it dry out as I do with my other herbs and than grind it up for spice.

Also got day three of my Guatemala Diary “Buried in Guatemala?” done. This pictorial essay is taking more time than I expected, but recalling my experience in pictures and words really helps to deepen it in my life. Getting it done right is taking some time.

Tomorrow night I am going to the Graf Growing Power Farm - my son’s place - to baby-sit for my grandchildren for a day or two while my son, a police officer, goes to DC to be a color guard in a police memorial event. My daughter-in-law and grandchildren and I can plot out our future Growing Power garden and maybe I can help build up the compost pile that we started on the land.

The thing I did get wrong today was my brother’s birthday. I thought my deceased mother’s birthday was May 7th and his was May 9th. Tonight as I was writing a little family tribute to him, I thought I would call and wish him a Happy Birthday. I did and we had a great conversation updating each other about our families. However, his birthday was the 7th Sunday, not today. I spent so much time on the phone talking with him, and one of my nephews who was there, that I decided since I’d missed his birthday anyway, I would finish my memorial tribute to him tomorrow. Sometimes getting it wrong gives one a good excuse for postponing something.

One of the nice things about the Growing Power system is that getting it right or wrong does not matter so much as long as we keep working on the bigger picture, learning from our mistakes and growing in our knowledge and experience.

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May 8, 2006 Dear Growing Power Staff,


In my Growing Power home model “diary of a worm’ last night, I wrote about 10 of the many lessons I learned over the weekend workshop. You can check them out at I am happy to report that a number of lessons learned are now in the action mode: like building a worm depository and expanding my compost pile.

Will said at the beginning of the workshop that we need to feed our passions. You certainly did feed my passion for Growing Power. I have been on a number of tours and talked with many of you before about my home project. However, the repetition of the message, the method is “same old, same old,” really sunk in this time. My roots are deeper. Thank You.

Will teaching how to make a compost pile

This does not mean that I won’t still now have many questions. The deeper I go into this method of affordable, sustainable, urban agriculture, the more questions I will have. Thank you for patience and understanding.

Malcom, King of the compost pile

One of the lessons learned last weekend was of the great value and gift that Growing Power is to our world. Although it is nothing ‘new,’ it is a significant contribution to the world movement of affordable, sustainable agriculture. I learned how valuable worm castings and compost from garbage are, and what an invaluable livestock worms are.

Recently I had the opportunity to visit Guatemala on a pilgrimage. Check the Guatemala Diary? on my web site. The Mayan people, if allowed to develop their own culture, would adopt what is called an “advanced horticulture” using land for organic affordable agriculture as in the movement you are advancing. I saw and heard about growing Tilapia and using the water run off to fertilize the land. I saw worm ‘condos’ and heard how the Mayans spread worm casting around their coffee trees.

The language you speak at Growing Power is universal, speaking to persons of all ethnic backgrounds, from around the USA and world, young and old, male and female. Milwaukee can be proud that it is a vital center of this movement and home to Growing Power.

If you view this letter on my Graf Family mini web site, in the Growing Power diary, you can find pictures of some of you that I took last weekend.

Thanks, Peace and Together We Are Growing Power,

Bob Graf

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May 7, 2006 Value

Rows of Valuable Salad Greens

Today I finished the two-day workshop at Growing Power. A lot of education packed into two days between lots of good food. At the end of the day Will Allen asked us to pass along what we have learned. He said we had lost a few generations in understanding how natural and simple it is to grow healthy, affordable organic food and we could not afford to lose another generation.

Here are a few of the lessons in life and Growing Power that I learned and hope to act on in the weeks to come.

  1. We must feed our passions.
  2. Worms are valuable livestock and like all valuable livestock we must take care of them. (After yesterday’s workshop on Vermicompost, worms and compost, I was worried about the conditon of my worms. This morning I checked on my worms in the growing box and in the compost pile. They are doing well.
  3. I need to start a worm depository in the backyard, a place for worms to eat, grow and multiply. I got some worms today after the workshop and using some of the broken down compost from below my compost pile, have started a worm depository already.
  4. I need to build a worm box,(condo), so that, at least in the summer, my worms can eat compost and make castings.
  5. Worms, castings and good compost are extremely valuable items. A five-gallon bucket of worm castings sells wholesale for about $75. Good compost is valuable too and of course the workers, the worms are invaluable.
  6. The food produced by this Growing Power style tastes so much better that food produced in other means and if successfully done, can yield a much higher return per square food than conventional crops.
  7. Milwaukee’s Growing Power is the center of a major revolution involving the use of waste, to produce compost, to produce - with the central addition of worms - castings, which can yield a rich and valuable crop in small spaces, rural or urban. People from all over the USA were there to teach - farmers, urban persons like civil organization, college students, young, old and of all ethnic varieties. I met three Iraqis now living in Lincoln Nebraska who were there to learn this method of Growing Power.
  8. Food produced by Growing Power is not only healthy but tastes great. There is a great demand for food produced by this organic method.
  9. Organic food need not be too expensive for ordinary or low-income persons.
  10. I need to find more sources of compost material, carbon like leaves, cardboard or wood chips and nitrogen, life coffee grounds, table scraps and young weeds, vegetables waste. Compost breaks down to about 25% of its original size, and it takes a lot of compost to feed worms to make worm castings.

Now for the real challenge — to take these and many other lessons learned and apply them to the Growing Power home box and home model garden. Watch and See!

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May 6, 2006 Feeding the passion

worms at center of GP

It was a full day in my life, present and past. All day today I spent at a workshop at Growing Power, attending by 150 persons from all over the USA and Canada. It was a review of what I know, and a day learning more in-depth about the care of the real livestock of Growing Power, worms. As Will Allen said today, you need to feed the passion in order for it to grow. I learned a lot today and will probably do so again tomorrow, knowledge I hope to pass on to you in future entries.

Tonight was a benefit for a friend since 1967, Art Heitzer, celebrating his 40 years of passion for justice and peace. It was great to hear the tributes to Art and to feel a small piece of his achievements, for example being a part of the student group he and Gregory Stanford, now an editoral writer for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel newspaper, led to open up Marquette to a diversified student body. Our now African American congresswomen, present tonight, was one of the first graduates from the Education Opportunity Program that resulted from the movement that Art, Gregory and I, and others were a part of in the 1967–68 school year at Marquette, which ended in a major student protest (my first arrest). We also ran Art, the administration’s worst nightmare, for student body president in 67–68, and he won. I saw the poster picture that I took that year for Art’s campaign. Seeds planted almost 40 years ago are now flourishing. This event fed my passion for doing the right thing, no matter what the consequences.

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May 5, 2006 Wise children

Having spent all day, 12 hours, with an almost two year old, my granddaughter, I feel a bit wiser and somewhat younger. Children that age, by not knowing much, know what is really important in just being who you are.

farm land

Not much to report to as far as my son’s land goes. He is more concerned about landscaping right now than about a garden. But the land has great potential for the future.

On the way back I heard from my friend that the jury on the civil rights trial got the weekend off and will resume deliberations Monday. Time will tell on this case.

I am very tired now and need to get some sleep, since tomorrow starts my two-day workshop at Growing Power at 55th and Silver Spring. I need to be in shape to listen and ask questions and to wonder. My time with my granddaughter was good preparation for this workshop, especially in the department of wondering.

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May 4, 2006 Detour

A detour on the last stretch of highway slowed me down in getting to my son’s home in the country northwest of Green Bay. Life has detours sometimes and this one found me arriving after the two boys were in bed but with two-year old Carolee still up waiting for ‘Papa’. My son and his wife and family go to bed early and rise early to get to work in Green bay and to school in a nearby town. I am here to baby-sit for Carolee, to see the boys off in the morning and home at noon on the school bus. It will give me a chance to refresh my spirits with some country air, be present to three imaginative children and check out the Growing Power farm-to-be.

My son is purchasing a small tractor tomorrow. In his mind it is to cut his lawn and work his land and in my mind (and probably my daughter-in-law’s and kids’ mind) it is to expand our Growing Power Garden.

When I come back tomorrow, I will be ready for the two-day intensive workshop at Growing Power on Saturday and Sunday. I have my pictures and questions ready. Next week will begin the work on my home garden and at end of the week I’ll come back here, maybe with worms, to help with kids as my son goes to a police memorial event in D.C. as one of the color guard. Maybe we can start our garden here.

The civil rights trial of the former police officer for using excessive force when he killed my friend’s son will be over the time I come back. Today the city attorney, defending the former officer, tried to detour around having the officer taking the witness stand in his defense by having an ‘expert’ witness testify that he was justified in his killing of my friend’s son. The only problem was, as the plaintiff attorney pointed out, that he was basing his reconstruction of the scene primarily on the word of the officer and city attorney who he went to the scene with to recreate it. I guess this is one way to get around the truth: tell an “expert” what you want the jury to hear and than let him tell your version of the story. Hopefully the jury will not take the detour but get right to the facts. We will see. A friend is going to call me on my cell phone with any significant developments.

Next week the Growing Power work begins. I will have no more detours to deal with or to explore, like the trial, but hopefully can get right to work on making my garden a Growing Power home model and then coming back up here to do the same. ‘Before’ pictures of the land here are coming tomorrow.

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May 3, 2006 Before

Before I attend the Growing Power Workshop this weekend, here are pictures of what I have to work with for my Growing Power Home model garden. Pictures of the transformation of this space will start to come next week with “After” pictures coming this summer. Enjoy!

Backyard 05.02.06

Back view

side of deck

compost pile

Also here are pictures of the Growing Power Box inside, and the planters below the box. These pictures were taken before I started my Basil planter today and before I take salad greens from the box for dinner tonight.

Before the jury gets the civil rights trial of former police officer and family of young man, the defendant, represented by city attorney, is presenting their case today. No pictures from this trial. The gruesome pictures of the body presented today are something you would not want to see. Mrs. Jenkins, the mother of the unarmed young man who died, and some of her relatives, could not watch those pictures.

Also in case you want to see my monthly newsletter “Living Stones” you can receive a free copy by emailing me, or by looking at the site under “Notices”. March is posted there now, but hopefully April will soon come.

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May 2, 2006 Growing Power Revisited

Today I took more pictures, inside and outside, of my garden and Growing Power Box. I will take them with me to the Growing Power workshop that I will be attending this weekend. The pictures, some of which I will show tomorrow on this site, tell the story of what I have or do not have now. They are the ‘before’ pictures to go with the ‘after’ pictures after I get the garden going. Friday, I am going up the Graf Growing Power farm at my son’s and will take some pictures. There is not much growing there yet, but it has great potential.

I transplanted some of the cilantro plants growing below the box into a big pot to be placed in the garden area soon. Tomorrow I will do the same for some of the other herbs I have growing inside like the basil and various mints.

The temperature currently, about 11pm, in the sunroom is about 63 degrees and in the ground of the growing boxes about 66 degrees. During the day today they both were in the 70’s.

I finally finished Day Two of my Guatemalan pictorial diary,”Buried in Guatemala?.” This is taking more work than I expected but it is a labor of love since it forces me to relive some of my experiences in Guatemala. Check it out.

At the civil rights trial today, there was more evidence and testimony that former officer Bartlett is guilty of using ‘excessive force’ in his killing of Larry Jenkins, a young African American male, over three years ago. Again I am upset about how little publicity and attention this landmark, in my opinion, civil rights case is getting in Milwaukee. One of the persons on the Westside list-serve that I give my daily reports on wrote me a personal email thanking me for taking the time to update our neighbors. Another person posted an email saying “Blah, blah, blah” to my daily reports. These two responses sum up the racial disparity in Milwaukee. You can say ‘blah’ to reports of discrimination or you can say ‘thank you’.

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May 1, 2006 Workers’ Solidarity Day

Rain continued to fall today. Another gloomy day in Milwaukee. I could not work outside and start on the Growing Power home garden. Will try again tomorrow. The first thing I will do is take a picture of the situation in the back and side yards right now so you can see the ordinary yard be transformed into a Growing Power garden.

May 1, 2006 is celebrated around the world as day to be in solidarity with workers as well as a day to celebrate Mary, the Mother of God, and St. Joseph, patron of workers, the parents of Jesus. Therefore it is only appropriate that immigrants who work the growing fields growing our food and behind the scenes in many of our restaurants that serve the food, speak out today for the human rights of all those who come to our country seeking to better themselves. There was protest all over the USA today against new immigration laws that would make illegal immigrate workers criminals instead of granting them work permits and a chance to become a citizen.

Today I went back to the Federal civil rights trial of a former police officer accused of using unnecessary violence in killing a young African male. This former worker, police officer, is still receiving full pay although he was fired from the police force for another incident, beating of another African American male. He still receives full work pay and the city attorney is his free lawyer in this case involved the klling a man over three years ago.

Here immigrants who work hard to grow and serve our food are being paid minimal wages. They are being called criminal and illegal. The former police officer accused of beating one man, and on trial for using excessive force in killing another man, is getting full pay for not working.

Unfortunately money, not nature and common sense, rules working people and our court system. Most persons and the media are overlooking this civil rights trial, in my mind a landmark case in the civil rights history of Milwaukee. However, immigration rights are getting much attention by both sides of the issue.

I think that we all, starting with myself, need to get back to working with the earth more. There might not be a lot of money in work with the soil, but there is plenty of substance for body and soul.

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PR MINISTRY 414 379 4162, Publisher of Living Stones email newsletter and facilitator for Retreat in Daily Life.



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Page last modified on September 08, 2011

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