Hi y’all. February is off to a good start here at Ferncliff. We’ve recently had the opportunity to tour several local farming operations including Little Rock Urban Farming and Heifer International Village. It’s been really cool to see the commitment to using natural or organic practices that both of these organizations exhibit. Last month, we also delivered re-purposed bathtubs to be used as raised gardening beds at a local school. It will be great for the kids to get some hands on gardening experience once the weather warms up. This past week we had our first shipment out of the DAC since I’ve been here. It’s great to see all the kits we’ve made get put to good use!
Over the holidays, I had the opportunity to dog sit for one of my pastors. Besides all the obvious benefits of cute puppy time, I also got to explore a different area of Little Rock. Since the camp is located further out of town, it was great to get to experience more of the actual city. Of course, puppies like to go on walks so I became familiar with the surrounding area, and began to notice the sidewalks. Though the area around my pastor’s house had nice sidewalks, as you delved deeper into the city many streets were missing sidewalks. I realized I’ve never lived in a place without sidewalks. As a kid I always enjoyed playing outside, and I tended to have free rein on our block. My parents didn’t worry about me playing hopscotch or riding my bike because we lived in the suburbs and it was safe to do so. As I’ve gone into other parts of town, I’ve started noticing whether or not there are sidewalks. All of the big subdivisions have nice new sidewalks (and many of them even have bike lanes), while the poorer areas of town typically have no sidewalk or crumbling pieces of cement that seem to start and stop randomly. Without a buffer between kids and the road there isn’t a safe way for kids to navigate their own neighborhood.
I began to think about other activities I enjoyed as a kid. I recently started volunteering with Recycle Bikes for Kids, an organization that takes old, donated bikes and refurbishes them for kids in need. I think back to learning how to ride and remember riding in the gutter or on sidewalks as I was just starting out because riding in the street was considered too dangerous. I wonder how children without sidewalks or bikes could learn how to ride. I never really considered biking a privilege until it’s not an option. I was fortunate to grow up in Colorado where bike lanes and paths are the norm, not the exception. Being in the south for the past couple years has made it clear that biking is not a priority for every community. Biking seems like such a basic skill that I wish everyone had the opportunity to learn.
I was also fortunate to learn how to swim at a young age. Last year while I was in New Orleans, one of the most striking things I learned was that the city did not have a public pool before Katrina. A city that is surrounded by water and many of its residents weren’t able to access swimming lessons. This inability to swim lead to several deaths when the levees broke and the water rose. These activities that I enjoyed growing up can be the difference between life and death. Biking can be the best transportation for someone who can’t afford a car. It’s frustrating how extracurricular activities to one person can be vital to another.