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garden Politics

Native Soil

Why am I showing you a picture of dirt? 

I’m showing you this dirt because I made it. It’s important to me. It’s no ordinary dirt. This dirt has a story to tell.

As I’ve shared before, our family is on a journey transforming our yard, from something chemically controlled and non-native to something organic and more respectful to where we live.

So what’s that got to do with dirt? Specifically the dirt in this picture? 

Well, it’s not dirt. It’s compost. It’s compost we made. It’s a mixture of food waste, chicken poop, and straw. Hundreds of pounds of stuff went into a bin, cooked, and decomposed for a summer, and is now making it’s way back into our garden to provide nutrients and microorganisms and all sorts of good stuff for our cool weather plantings. That compost represents hundreds of individual decisions, sometimes mistakes like a little sticker from an apple or the pit of an avocado ending up in the compost pile… but cumulatively, that’s our effort– our stuff, or intentions and new learnings, and our hope to stop the cycle of taking from our property, replacing it with a new habit, a cycle of health.

That wheelbarrow full of compost is, quite literally, mixing the McLane’s and our stuff — non-natives to this land– into the very soil of our property for the sake of making something brand new– a new native soil.

What does it mean to be native?

Ultimately, only Jackson is a “native San Diegan.” Kristen was born in Indonesia. I was born in Indiana. Megan in Chicago. Paul in Detroit.

The idea of place is important to native and non-natives, alike. If you’re from here everything you’ve got is this place. Of course place is important.

But if you’re a non-native, like 4/5ths of the McLane tribe, place is also important. We might not all be from here but this is our place. We want to make it our own. We might not be from here but that doesn’t mean we don’t want to be here.

Welcoming Non-Natives

My heart is broken knowing that Donald Trump desires to rip people from their community and families by ending DACA tomorrow. DACA was created as a stop-gap measure, allowing some 800,000 “non-native” people who were brought here illegally as children– most of whom know no other place but the United States– a temporary status until Washington could pass immigration reform. This meant that they came from the shadows, trusting the government by identifying themselves, and applied for this status. Once they earned DACA status they were able to move on with their young adult lives. Going to college, getting jobs, starting families of their own.

Just like my compost, the thing that makes our country so dynamic, so powerful, so challenging… is that ultimately 99.9% of us are non-natives. Even if we were born in this country… we’re not from this country. We all came here at some point, some of us legally, most of us illegally. 

Nevertheless, and regardless of how we got here, together this country is our place. I bring my stuff and put it in the bin. You bring your stuff and put it in the bin. Together, our stuff sits there, it cooks, it mixes, and somehow– all mixed up with some time to perfect it—  just like the compost in my backyard it makes something powerful by which brand new things can grow.

Let’s Cling to Hope

Maybe you live somewhere that Trump’s ending of DACA doesn’t seem to have much impact. (I’d counter that with 800,000 participants it impacts you more than you think) But where I live, on my block, in my kids schools, in my neighborhood, in my community, in my city… we’re all going to cling to the hope of what we know.

One of the things which makes San Diego one of the best places to live in the world is our collective embrace of diversity.

We cling to that fact.

And we pledge to contend for our neighbors.

We will not be silent. We will not back down. We will not be unseen.

Native, non-native alike.

We will stand together for us.

By Adam McLane

Adam McLane is a partner at The Youth Cartel, co-author of A Parent's Guide to Understanding Social Media, blogger of 10+ years, and a fan of all things San Diego State University Aztecs.

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