Lest your inner libertarian objects to such interventions, Champ is quick to correct the idea that the community would ultimately find its own balance.
“The amount of time it would take for the community to self-regulate—I don’t think it could sustain itself in the meantime,” she says. “Anyway, I can’t think of any successful online community where the nice, quiet, reasonable voices defeat the loud, angry ones on their own.”
In this sense, Champ doesn’t just shepherd along the Flickr ethos; she’s a larger advocate of intelligent growth in an often chaotic zone.
“People become disassociated from one another online. The computer somehow nullifies the social contract,” she says. In other words, people sometimes go nuts amid the anonymity of the Internet.
Even in the middle of winter, when I visited, it was apparent how meticulously the gardens are maintained—unlike many other urban gardens I know, which out of season can resemble the trash heaps they started out as. Everything looked freshly groomed: the wooden fences separating individual 15-by-20-foot plots, the gaily painted casitas, tool sheds that are “artistic statements,” Ross told me, and gathering places like stoops. Several gardens had plastic-covered hoop houses, greenhouses that in the dead of winter can get pretty grungy. I didn’t detect a rip.
“We have nine community gardens in some of the toughest neighborhoods in the city if not the country,” Ross said, “and the incidence of vandalism has been almost zero.” Joel Cortijo, a colleague along for the tour, said simply, “It’s ours.” . . .
Gardens are the heart of everything Nuestras Raíces does. Children can often be found playing in vegetable patches and in adjacent playgrounds built on land cleared of needles, broken glass, and brush that gave dealers a place to hide their drugs. Grandfathers and fathers, many of whom grew up on farms in Puerto Rico, teach schoolchildren how to grow peppers and eggplants and experiment in greenhouses on the farm with exotics like papayas and avocados, to see what they can get to grow in the New England climate. “During the summer you’ll find a dozen guys sitting on tables and benches,” Ross said, “shelling beans and telling lies about the size of their tomatoes.”
Readers of Todd Lappin’s Telstar Logistics blog are entitled to a free copy of the fantastic reader-made travel magazine, Everywhere.
Everywhere is a travel magazine that’s created from articles and photographs contributed by members of the online community at everywheremag.com. The community votes on their favorite contributions, then Telstar Logistics fleet management officer Todd Lappin (who also moonlights as the editor-in-chief of Everywhere) curates the best of the best to produce an inspiring travel magazine that looks fabulous on your coffee table or personal jet. Published contributors receive $100 and a free one-year subscription.