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"Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present.”- Albert Camus

There is much to be said about the generosity of strangers, but the gift of time, or a skill long developed which with ease is shared is not less appreciated when it comes from a colleague, a fellow you have sat beside in meetings for years not knowing the skills he might have to offer until he does quiet out of the blue ask to do a thing.

There is what might seem like a cascade of assistance landing on our laps per se at LEAD Agency lately. It is as if we had been discovered, or uncovered in some way from the neglect this place has experienced.

You have heard me almost YELL for help with my words flying off the pages of the Miami NewsRecord over the past years through the weekly column they so generously allow me to submit.

Then suddenly the phone starts ringing and people are offering APPLE stock, and bringing by classily framed and matted art prints as a raffle item, or their used Brita filters for us to recycle.

When you operate the only environmental justice organization in the tri-state district, usually what we get on the phone are questions about the stuff that harms us, where it is detected, what could be making us sick, why the fish aren't safe to eat yet, and maybe where the crappie are biting this time of year?

But when you have the best place in town for the Community Garden and it goes to sleep, and needs a haircut or a re-tuning, the first day working this season, a generous fellow Cherokee comes by and offers and then delivers the biggest sack of pecan hulls, almost as tall as himself for us to add to the soon to be showcase Garden of Miami.

There is a lot of hope in a garden. It starts with mending and tending the soil, and removing what has moved in and for a time kept the soil busy and aerated so it didn't compact as it might have. But there hiding are the strawberry plants with the little starter ones, the Egyptian onions, the spider wart, the Shasta daisies and the butterfly bushes. I would say the garden has good bones and calls out for team mates to join in the remake, the redo that is going to be happening in the next few weeks.

This cold snap will pass and then March will come right in behind it and we will see you gather and ask you to look in the corners of your kitchen for those potatoes that are sprouting. Before too long it will be time to plant them. We have a potato box ready to take them and rows to plant if we have more than we need to wedge in the box. Wouldn't that be a great way to start a potato salad? by growing your own.

This evening in my in-box, no potato, but an attorney who had seen Jennifer Little's dramatic photography the University of the Pacific professor had taken of our site, who is volunteering legal assistance in the fights that need to be fought here at one of the largest environmental justice sites. We say yes. We have issues to choose from air to water.

The questions we have no answers to, lay there with us, we taunt them and dangle them as bait to tempt yet unknown sources to leap at them and bring us answers and justice to those who have been harmed and wronged here. Keep asking and wondering and putting the pieces together, the map, the connections can matter in the lifetime we share and those who will follow walking where we once stood and wondered.

Or do a thing.

There is always something that needs doing at the LEAD Agency. A story that needs to be told and captured in our Air, Water and Works Stories Project, a child that has to be told not YET in that creek by his house, a petition to sign, or a rally to rally around.

When my mother was in medical school in Kirksville, MO, one snowy day a fellow walking in front of her dropped a book in the snow, she picked it up for him and his response was to gift it to her for returning it to him. It was The Prophet by the author Khalil Gibran, the much loved book still can be found in our family library.

It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” ― Khalil Gibran, The Prophet

We give you this same opportunity. Give us your time, you are the gift.

Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim

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