Sow the Seeds of Victory
by Megan McDonough
Brief description of submission: Encourage people in the Pioneer Valley to make compost and plant
Victory Gardens to provide food security, combat global warming and address the underlying issue of
sustainability – creating systems that are life-giving and regenerative. Sustainability is about more than
maintaining the status quo, it’s about learning from the past and discovering the possibilities of the future.
“Contemporary Art embraces the maverick and the traditionalist. No topic, no medium, no process, no intention, no professional protocols, and no aesthetic principles are exempt from the field of art …”
– Linda Weintraub, In the Making: Creative Options for Contemporary Art
“The Stone Age did not end because humans ran out of stones. It ended because it was time for a re-think about how we live.”
– William McDonough, architect
William McDonough in his book, Cradle to Cradle, jokes that if someone told you their marriage was
“sustainable” you’d ask them what’s wrong. The environmental movement in its search for equilibrium
in a changing world has gotten stuck on sustainability for years, but many are looking beyond what
sustains us to what is rejuvenating and regenerative. How can we learn from nature and create systems that are self-renewing and create no “waste”?
One basic example of this goal of regenerative cycles is compost in your garden. The waste from your
food becomes the fuel for creating more food, and thus starts a cycle of regeneration and growth.
During WWI and II, the US government encouraged the populace to plant “victory gardens” to help do
their part to win the war on home. Now as we find ourselves amidst a seemingly never ending war on Terror and the crisis of global warming, the time for Victory Gardens has returned. By planting gardens we can increase food security, combat global warming and begin to learn from regenerative systems.
I propose to give Victory Garden Kits to people in the Pioneer Valley. These kits would include a combination of informational literature, supplies and promotional signage. The promotional signage would be made of reclaimed or locally harvested wood. The signs could either be displayed near a garden or used as part of a raised bed.
The goal of the kits would be to give people information to make their own victory garden, supplies to start immediately and signage that would let others know they have started a victory garden. These kits would be distributed at seed swaps, farmers markets, green fairs and through other relevant events and community organizations.
The Pioneer Valley is a great location to promote Sustainability through Victory Gardens. There is a long
legacy of farming in the hills and valleys, access to knowledgeable people and activists with a sense of purpose. In Northampton activists have turned parking lots into parks, so the idea of planting food not lawns is an idea whose time had come.
I will let people know about the project through a combination of advertising, grassroots networking, victory garden signs and by contacting key organizations in all three counties of the Pioneer Valley. Advertising may include running ads on buses, in newspapers or something more creative – like doing a mural on a farmer’s barn. My goal will be to coordinate Victory Garden distribution points in Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties by partnering with organizations or events in all three counties.
See Below for Experience
January 2004 — May 2008 UMASS Amherst Amherst, MA
• Masters Degree in Regional Planning with a concentration in housing & social issues
Fall 2002 – February 2004 UMASS Amherst Amherst, MA
• Self-Designed degree in Arts-Based Community Development.
• Graduated with a cumulative GPA of 3.96.
• Earned a professional development certificate in non-profit arts management from the UMASS Arts Extension Service while an undergraduate.
Fall 1999 – Spring 2001 Oberlin College Oberlin, OH
• Completed two years towards a BA in Visual Arts with a concentration in Community Arts.
February 17, 2006 UMASS Amherst, MA
• “Housing Within Reach” conference on affordable housing put on by the UMass architecture and wood technology departments
Summer 2004 Bard College Annandale-on-Hudson, NY
• Internationally attended week long conference on “local currencies” put on by the EF Schumacher Society
August 3-9, 2003 Smith College Northampton, MA
• Summer Institute by the Center for Popular Economics – Internationally attended conference about economics.
• Received scholarship to attend.
June 19-21, 2003 UMASS Amherst, MA
• “Work Smart Build Community Arts” – Internationally attended arts management conference put on by the UMASS Arts Extension Service.
• Received Venman Fellowship to attend.
June 30, 2003 UMASS Amherst, MA
• “Creativity Sparks Economy” – one day conference on cultural tourism in western MA put on by the Arts Extension Service of UMASS and the Western Massachusetts Arts Alliance.
May 2007 – Present Valley Community Land Trust Colrain, MA
• Organize records and facilitate projects and committees
August 2006 – Present Center for Ecological Technology Northampton, MA
Builder Services Administrator & LEED for Homes assistant manager
• Administrative & managerial functions in support of green building program
June 2005 – May 2006 GEO/UAW Local 2322 Amherst, MA
President of the Graduate Employee Organization – a unit of UAW local 2322
• Elected president of 2,500 member labor union
• Supervised staff of 10 graduate student employees
• Responsible for facilitating the creation and execution of campaigns, overseeing union operations, public representation of the union, and running meetings
September 2004 – May 2005 GEO/UAW Local 2322 Amherst, MA
Family Issues Advocate
• Identified issues facing graduate student families on campus and developed strategies and campaigns to address these issues
• Worked as a part of the GEO staff to answer member questions, hold office hours, and work on our contract campaign
September 2004 – August 2005 Commuter Services – UMASS Amherst, MA
• Facilitated matches between “home seekers” and “home offerers” which often involved a rent reduction for services like childcare or eldercare
• Coordinated the successful operation of the program with a Franklin County Elder Coordinator and the Commuter Services office staff
• Helped with initial conflict mediation when problems arose between homeshare matches
July 2004 – September 2004 Cooperative Development Institute Greenfield, MA
Interim Office Manager
• Maintained and updated Microsoft Access database
•Trouble-shooted computer and office machine problems
• Acted as a point person for the office – doing intakes, planning for events, submitting grant applications, etc.
May 2004 – July 2004 Northampton Planning and Development Northampton, MA
• Assisted in the research and writing of an Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing study
• Assisted in the completion of a Commonwealth Capital Application and a recreation and conservation space accessibility inventory
January 2004 – May 2004 Environmental Design Dept. UMass Amherst, MA
• Grade papers and maintain records for 90 student undergraduate course.
February 2003 – December 2003 Amherst Cinema Center Amherst, MA
Office Assistant & Volunteer
• Did research for grant applications and promotion of the center.
• Assisted in database management for mailing list and donations.
• Used Gift Maker Pro software, Microsoft project, Word & Excel on a PC.
• Assisted in office organization, filing, and planning.
May 2001 – August 2001 Child at Heart Art Gallery Newburyport, MA
• Used various computer programs on both an iMac and a PC to enter inventory, create invoices, signs and labels (File Maker Pro, Apple Works 6, Microsoft Word, Excel, & Publisher).
• Acted as a reference point for customers, answering questions about the art on display, the artists, and the store.
•Assisted in research and display.
Jan — May 2001 The Henry Street Settlement New York, NY
Visual Arts/Arts in Education Intern
• Learned about the structure and organization of a large non-profit.
• Clerical duties: Typing (PC & Typewriter), Filing, Faxing, Photocopying, etc.
• Assisted in the planning of educational arts programs for youths and seniors.
• Assisted with display of their Annual Student Art Show.
Jan – May 2001 The 16 Beaver Street Group, Inc. New York, NY
• Learned about how a small grassroots non-profit is run.
• Developed an organizational system for future interns to manage mailing lists, press releases, and other contacts with the public.
Spring 2003 – 2005 The Earth & Sky Collective Amherst, MA
• Founded the Earth & Sky Collective for cooperative exchange (EarthSkyExchange.org).
• Organized workshop series with Collective on cooperative economic strategies such as barter and local currency.
• Press contact and spokesperson for the Collective.
• Led meetings and facilitated workshops.
Spring 2005 – present United Auto Workers Local 2322 Holyoke, MA
• Elected to the Joint Council of UAW Local 2322
• Responsible for personnel, financial and campaign decisions made between bi-annual membership meetings
Fall 2005 – present United Auto Workers Local 2322 Holyoke, MA
• Elected to the executive board of UAW local as the “guide”
• Entrusted with maintaining compliance with union bylaws and constitution
• Responsible for personnel, financial and campaign decisions made between monthly joint council meetings