I LOVE this idea. (OK, I wound up all sobby and weepy and tingly about it. I'm a big baby like that.) The Garden Rant blog features a story about how neighborhoods are being cleaned up and communities created by the simple but bureaucratically challenging act of putting gates at the end of alleyways. [P]lants - potted or spilling over fences - are the most visible sign of the transformation. Urban gardening to the max! The story's set in Baltimore, where there are 91 alley-gating projects in the works, and the nonprofit behind them wants to take the idea nationwide.
I've said before and I'll say again that, much as many of us treasure the notion of the cottage Witch, living deep in the forest in her comfy, crooked cottage (and, Goddess knows, I do), the reality is that most of today's Witches (and other Pagans) live in urban areas. Which areas have, indeed, many advantages of their own: diverse populations, museums, concerts, cafes, walkable areas, populations large enough to include other like-minded folks, etc. But it can be a challenge to connect to nature, and, as a result, the landbase and watershed, when living in a large city. An alleyway filled with plants and a safe place to play, and with the birds and pollinators that will follow the plants, can be a haven in a big city like Baltimore, a place for kids to learn to connect to nature, a retreat from the concrete and traffic.
Indeed, when residents live behind locked doors and in fear, even connecting to neighbors can be a challenge.
At the beginning, "there was a fair bit of convincing neighbors that [gating the alley] was in their best interest -- by improving security, cleanliness and, ultimately, home value," Heslin said, explaining that most of the pushback came from those who still wanted to park and leave their trash in the alley (most residents later agreed to park on the street, and secure lock boxes now allow access to the alley for trash removal). The space has since blossomed into an open-air living room where neighbors mingle after work, toss parties and perform jazz. It seems worlds apart from an alley eight blocks north that a gunman used to approach a backyard cookout last July and wound 12 guests.
I'm a woman, a Witch, a mother, a grandmother, an eco-feminist, a gardener, a reader, a writer, and a priestess of the Great Mother Earth. Hecate appears in the
Homeric Ode to Demeter, which tells of Hades who caught Persophone
"up reluctant on his golden car and bare her away lamenting. . . . But no one, either of the deathless gods or of mortal men, heard her voice, nor yet the olive-trees bearing rich fruit: only tenderhearted Hecate, bright-coiffed, the daughter of Persaeus, heard the girl from her cave . . . ."