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"Gotta' Start Somewhere"

Posted May 17 2009 10:15pm
I have this voice in my head that says "I'm tired" sometimes, too many times. I tried changing it to say, "No, you're not, you're full of energy" but let's face it, after a day of kids and work and garden and all this activism stuff (when did I become an activist? I never intended that), "full of energy" is just plain a lie. So about two months ago, I tried changing myself by replying to the voice in my head something completely unexpected. So now, when I hear, "I'm tired," I say, "and I'm grateful. I'm grateful to be tired because I am doing work I love."

And sometimes the "tired" is not physical, but emotional. From just not getting the support I want sometimes, as fast as I want it, from the places I want it. This is how I felt the other day, about the roaring lawn care equipment and chemical application trucks that have returned with a vengeance. About the zoning battle over the relocation of our farmers market. About the constant stream of fast food sponsorships at the schools. About the fact that crossing the street at a crosswalk with a child with a backpack is downright impossible at times because so many drivers simply don't stop.

"I'm grateful," I told myself as I slumped in the hammock, a wonderful dog-eared, chocolate-stained book in my hands (yes, the third annual FoodShed Planet Summer Reading Book of the Week starts next week, if you can believe it!), but for what?

And then I got the email. From Kelly of the Persimmons, who, if you will recall, lived in my neighborhood, attended Open Garden with my children, spent a year away from her husband as he "set up the family" in a distant city, and then finally moved to all be together. (Here is a post to remind you.) She wrote:

Believe it or not, you've been the motivating force behind some things Bill has implemented at work. He partnered with a local farm for CSA's starting in June. They're going to do a drop-off at the hospital every Thursday. It runs anywhere between 15 and 19 weeks. He has 24 hospital employees committed (including us). He could have had a lot more. It will probably explode next year.

He's also received a Federal Grant for an organic roof-top garden at the hospital. He and our son spent several hours a couple of weeks ago planting seeds. He has an employee who is a master gardener and she will be overseeing its progress.

Biggest of all - his hospital is doing composting. It was a major undertaking and it required lots of planning, on the hospital, as well as the city's part. He also received grant money for this. Oh, and by the way, he also went 100% trans fat-free at work.

So, you see, we think of you often.

I talked to Bill yesterday. This is a picture of him, with the Mayor of Minneapolis, R. T. Rybak, right before receiving a Climate Change Micro Grant (as reported in the Finance and Commerce newspaper). Besides being a really special father and husband, Bill is the Director of Food and Nutrition Services at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis.

* When Kelly says he "went trans-fat free" at work, she means he made the first public hospital in the United States trans-fat free.

* When she says he is doing composting, she means he has helped a hospital arrange to tug all its food waste four city blocks underground to a dedicated composting dumpster.

* When she says he received a grant to do the roof garden, she means that the chef and cooks at this major healthcare facility will now be accessing fresh herbs and peppers from a 200-square-foot kitchen garden for meals prepared for patients, visitors, staff and catering.

What's more, Bill has occasional farm stands in the cafeteria, and is moving to seasonal menu planning, adding rBGH-free milk in the cafeteria and in the pediatric wing, and putting in three coffee shops that serve only organic, fair trade and bird-friendly coffee. Oh, and did I mention that Bill's hospital is the first public hospital in the United States to sign Health Care without Harm's Healthy Food in Health Care Pledge?"

Bill says that Minneaopolis is already extremely environmentally-aware, so these changes have been enthusiastically embraced by others in the hospital. He says his philosophy is "gotta' start somewhere," and these have been the little things that "don't cost much but keep the place alive," which is important especially during a time of so many budget cuts.

Gotta' start somewhere. Gotta' start somewhere. Okay, Bill, today I'm not tired. I'm grateful. For knowing you and your family. For hearing these amazing accomplishments. And for the little things I can do today that just might make a difference, in ways I may not expect.

Stay tuned for Hennepin County Medical Center updates as Bill feeds them to me--and as he literally feeds a city far away with the little things that add up to a healthier future.
Nurturing sustainability close to home and around the world. (And other food for thought!)
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