A crash course in changing the world.
Gratitude Gardens: Discovering Our Global Heritage
The Gratitude Gardens is a global collaborative project that will redefine people’s connection with their food, with their culture, with their homes, and with each other. Using online tools such as social networks, wikis, games, apps, widgets, and more, participants will be challenged on multiple levels. They will learn about sustainable growth, explore their culture and their heritage, and compete to share the most inspiring information and create the most exciting projects in their community.
For more insight into what a Gratitude Garden can be, click on this link to view a short video.
The Gratitude Gardens will be a global network, so much of the 'place' will be virtual. We have already registered www.gratitudegardens.org, and that will be the location for our online network. This network will be free to use, and will provide mapping functionality for sharing locations, links to resources organized globally, regionally, nationally, and locally, and a seed database through a partnership with groups like Plants for a Future, Native Seed SEARCH, and Seed Savers Exchange. It will also provide participants with profiles that will be linked with widgets to other social networking sites, and will use games and competitions in the form of cross-platform apps to engage new users and generate and rate content.
Gratitude Gardens will also be physical locations where participants grow heirloom and landrace edible and useful plants. While any garden that a participant dedicates to the project will be a “Gratitude Garden”, members will be challenged to grow native and heirloom stable plants, as well as adapt existing cultivars to their specific climate. These gardens may start as simple vegetable beds or pots of herbs, but over time will transform into living seed banks, community spaces, and social enterprise incubators. Gratitude Gardens will provide raw materials for the enterprises of the founders and their community while safeguarding and adapting precious genetic stock for this and future generations.
Anyone will be able to plant a garden of any size, but they will all be encouraged to participate online in sharing information and resources before planting so as to ensure that future Gratitude Gardeners will be able to benefit from their efforts.
The first physical Gratitude Gardens are already being planted across the world:
· The Growcology Learning Center in Riverside, California, USA
· OUR Farm in Mexico City, Mexico
· Earthsong Organic Farm in Stuart, Virginia, USA
· Tierra de los Ninos in Lima, Cuzco, and Puerto Maldonado, Peru
· Indlovu, Monwabisi Park, South Africa
· Las Gidi and Lagos, Nigeria
· Kampala, Uganda
· Hangzhou, China
· Nairobi, Kenya
· Taipei, Taiwan
· Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
· New York City, New York, USA
· Guadalupe Canyon, Mexico
· Butare, Rwanda
· New Delhi, India
· Fernando de la Mora, Paraguay
Some of these are in partnership with existing organizations, many of them are Evokers who are gardening, farming, or just interested in learning more about their culture. Each will provide a glimpse into a completely unique way of cultivating life on this planet.
There are many huge issues facing the world’s food supply, such as the loss of biodiversity in our food production system and piracy or the theft of indigenous knowledge. The long term effects of genetically modified foods have yet to be established, particularly terminator genes and traits produced with cellular invasion methods.
There are many advocates for these issues already, and the Gratitude Gardens don't claim to know the full extent of the problem or replace the efforts of those working on it. However, the one thing that is clear is not enough people are farming sustainably, and many plant cultivars are in danger of dying out. In response to this we've decided to crowd-source the solution and create a global network of people who research their agricultural heritage and then put it into practice.
The project will create a global competition, inspired by Urgent Evoke. There will be several stages to the competition.
Initially, participants will log onto the Gratitude Garden website and create a profile. They will be awarded badges for filling out basic information, but once they start researching local seeds and organizations they will be begin periodic contests.
Those who find and share information about new strains of plants will share them with the community. Pictures and wiki entries will doc**ent their discoveries. Partners at Seed Savers Exchange will help ensure that these valuable genetics will be safeguarded and there will be strict recognition of indigenous intellectual property rights so that their heritage seeds are not patented by third parties.
Participants will also be encouraged to identify local, national, and regional organizations that support these type of conservation and sustainable agriculture projects. They will post links to websites, addresses and phone numbers so that future aspiring gratitude gardeners can access that information and support and be supported by these groups. Some competitions will involve translating guides and videos into new languages to provide increased access to important information.
All of this information will be open source, and the quantity and quality of information provided will be a****sed by the community in a manner similar to how Urgent Evoke functions. The highest rated content will earn periodic prizes, such as heirloom seeds, books, or seed saving equipment, or cash grants.
While the Beta testing for the first phase is being completed, programmers and game designers will create an online game. This game will be available as an application on leading social networking sites and as a standalone flash game available through the GG website, and will share many design elements with Farmville(FV), Urgent Evoke(UE), and 3rd World Farmer(3WF).
Just as 3WF was designed to “make people think”, the Gratitude Garden game will challenge its players to both think and to learn. Challenges will range from planning and planting a “guild” garden to posting pictures of specific varieties growing in one’s community. Much like how UE called upon its participants to find real world collaborators to get points in its game, the GG game will reward players that find inspiring local heroes. In the same way that FV sends status updates to friends on social networking sites, the GG game will share the information that players are learning and generating so that their colleagues and family can take genuine pride in their participation and not just be made aware of their addiction.
As challenges are surmounted and prizes awarded, players of the GG game will be creating their profiles on the GG website. The participants in Phase 1 and Phase 2 will be combined into one cohesive virtual community competing for prizes and eventually transitioning to Phase 3.
After doing some research and helping create a resource directory in the virtual community, participants will be challenged to plant individual or community gardens. Not all of the garden must be dedicated to heirloom and landrace seeds, but at least 25% of it must be to qualify for the garden competition.
On a monthly basis, gardeners will compete for grants from a large grantmaking institution concerned about global and regional hunger. Particularly, areas at risk of losing huge quantities of genetic material such as South Asia and Africa will be eligible to grants from organizations like the Gates or MacArthur Foundations. Monthly cash prizes will go to the best projects to encourage more participation and expansion and outreach. Efforts will be made to make it as meritorious and equitable a system as possible, but participants will be made aware that some targeted grants are only available to certain regions due to the magnitude of their need.
The process for evaluating projects will be a combination of the rating system of Urgent Evoke and the microfinance system of KIVA. This is where partnerships with local institutions will be essential, as grantmaking and loanmaking institutions are much less likely to support projects that are not tied into their local community. Fortunately, participants in the GG competition will be coached from an early stage on how to identify, share, and support the existing organizations in their region.
Our mentor for this project is Nicolas Gorjestani, who pioneered and was Program Director of the World Bank’s Indigenous Knowledge for Development Program. A global thought leader on organizational knowledge and development learning themes Mr. Gorjestani now devotes his time to advising, lecturing and writing on development strategy, knowledge ecology, learning, and innovation
issues. He is currently a Senior Adviser/Consultant at the World Bank and an Adjunct Professor in Knowledge Ecology at the Polytechnic University in Hong Kong. He is also Director of the Global Indigenous Knowledge and Innovation Partnership’s Secretariat, a recently established advocacy group of former Heads of State and other eminent global personalities to promote the integration of traditional knowledge systems and grassroots innovation in development programs. Mr. Gorjestani's experience will be invaluable in incorporating the Gratitude Gardens into the existing Indigenous Knowledge movements.
Thanks to Urgent Evoke and the World Bank for selecting the Gratitude Gardens as a finalist and connecting us with our mentor!