Cultural Mentoring is not the first thing to roll out of someone’s mouth when asked the question:
What’s the most effective way to create change in a …community, school, church, institution, business, neighborhood…
There is a powerful combination of one on one mentoring and cultural mentoring that is extremely effective in creating change.
These approaches are two of the main threads in the Art of Mentoring.
I’ll save one on one mentoring magic for another post.
The Three Great Mysteries: air to a bird, water to a fish, mankind to himself
~ Hindu Proverb
Cultural Mentoring is about the context. It’s the ocean you are swimming in.
The WW2 Victory Gardens are an excellent example of Cultural Mentoring. This was a whole systems cultural approach that essentially changed the nature of the ocean that people in this country were swimming in. Take a look at this article clip below that shows the many ways this simple gardening initiative really had going on. It wasn’t just “hey let’s do this” and everyone thought it was a good idea.
What if we applied this approach to a nature connection campaign, a community resilience, local food, slow money, intergenerational community peacemaking campaign ?
Please comment below, I want to hear what you think !
During World War Two, 200 million people gardened, and 40% of produce consumed in America was homegrown.
TEACHING A CITY TO GROW FOOD
How do you teach an entire city to grow food?
The Mayor of Boston helped plow up the Boston Commons.
Movie stars became part of the program. Veronica Lake changed her hair from swept over one eye to keeping hair back and out of the way – better for women munitions workers and gardening. The campaign was called “Hair wins the war”.
Cartoon characters and superheroes were used to further gardening message.
Popular culture was drafted into the gardening movement – beer drinkers showed having a drink after sweaty gardening. Fashionable gardening clothes were sold from department stores.
Children were brought into the movement by their parents and their schools. Chicago held well-attended harvest festivals and garden parades.
Corporations got involved. Sears started 24,000 Victory Gardens in the Los Angeles area. International Harvester provided the plows in Chicago.
To keep that food year round, there was a mass program of canning. Five billion pints of produce were canned by volunteers every summer during the war. “Pressure cookers and canning supplies were in such high demand that their production was overseen by the government.”
“Gardens began sprouting behind sign posts, on railway embankments, in school yards and church yards and in window boxes.” Vacant lots and parks were also used – any spare space.
The Office of Civilian Defense was put in charge, with Fiorello La Guardia. His “assistant” was the President’s wife, Eleanor Roosevelt – the last person to plant a food garden on the White House grounds until Michelle Obama. Could the Department of Homeland Security start thinking about real food security, and help found local gardens instead?
90% of the participants had never gardened before. This required a massive public training effort through: community groups, film nights on how to plant, educational brochures, talks by experts, newspaper articles. They mounted Kiosks near gardens and in public places to post notices and articles, a kind of social media of the day.
The City of Chicago was broken up into 7 regions, then down to block captains. Each official garden received a decal. There were many more gardens in private yards, and people who didn’t want to register of keep the paperwork. 75,000 of these decals were posted in the first year in Chicago, 1942.
In 1942, Chicago had 12,000 community gardens on over 500 plots, covering 290 acres. That doesn’t include private or non-registered gardens. By 1942 it was 53,000 gardens on 1500 plots. 14,000 children were gardening.
The first Victory Gardens were in Chicago, and it became a national model. The largest garden there was 32 acres, with 800 families participating.
Chicago passed an ordinance against damaging or stealing from Victory gardens. The fines were $50 to $200, which would be $650 to $2,600 in today’s currency.
It’s interesting to note that the food shortage and poverty during the Depression of the 1930’s was so severe that 35% of the men drafted for World War Two could not be accepted due to malnutrition.
I wonder, Was this the primary motivation behind the Victory Gardens ? National Security?
How did Chicago do it? “We had government support. There were overarching organizational structures. There was a donation of space and equipment. There was mass education, promotion, corporate and individual commitment, and recognition.”