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Do You Stay, or Do You Leave? Here's What Rebecca Decided

Posted May 02 2013 6:40am
Rebecca Barria at the Wylde Center (named after Sally Wylde )
Dunwoody Community Garden ("where the sidewalk ends, community grows")
I met Rebecca Barria in a kudzu-filled field almost four years ago right now. She wanted to start a community garden. A man named Bob joined us. We brought more folks into the conversation, and we did it, with Rebecca as the first chairperson of what is now the largest community garden in metro Atlanta (when you add in the greenhouse center in a separate part of the city park where it is located). There has been new leadership for awhile now, and the garden appears to be thriving. 

I'm a decade younger than Bob, and Rebecca is at least that much younger than me, so we are all in different life stages, and that has had an impact on some of our decisions. But wanting creative freedom and liking to be start-up people has had a bigger impact, I'd say, for Bob and me, and we moved on and have enjoyed starting and helping other gardens all over the place.

Rebecca's son's preschool class on a Beltline field trip
For Rebecca, it is about life stage and life style. Her children are young, she wants them to be around an artsy, intellectual energy where hands-on discovery is a central tenet of education, where they can walk and ride their bikes easily, and where they can truly thrive, learn, and grow as active participants in a changing world. She realized she could wait twenty years for this all to possibly happen here (with fights at City Hall and with the county school system every step of the way), or she could immerse her children in this reality immediately . 

She and her husband chose to move this past January (he actually commutes back here each day), and she has been ecstatic about her decision ever since. Her children come home happy from school with stories to tell about hands-on, outdoors exploration. She lives walking distance to the original Farm Burger location and other shops and restaurants in and around the downtown square, where there are frequent events. A prior high school English teacher with gifted education certification, she is now pursuing her PhD in education, focusing on the impact of play on literacy.

I caught up with Rebecca recently at a major community garden near her home, where Tibetan prayer flags hung all over the place, beautiful heirloom chickens ( not allowed in my city ) clucked happily in the coop, and a Little Free Library invited visitors to browse and borrow.  

Rebecca looks happy.  Food for thought for all of us, no matter what our life stage. Do you stay and try to change things if you live somewhere that doesn't quite fit your values, or do you leave and live a life that more authentically represents you?
eclectic food-for-thought for a changing world
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