Forest Resource – Sacred Grounds

"American Ginseng" - Westmoreland County, PA

“American Ginseng” – Westmoreland County, PA

The sun is rising over the distant tree line…
Reflecting off the calm water like glass…
Mayflies are dancing in the morning light…
My soul is like a candle burning in the night…

The trees in the forest reach for the sky…
When I call out the woodland birds reply…
My mind is in heaven yet I am on the ground…
Communication with nature requires no sound…

Climbing mountains of sand and limestone…
At the top of the rise stands a circle of pines…
I stand among the sleepy conifer trees…
Singing praises to the deer and the bees…

As the earth slowly spins I steady my balance…
On the side of this mountain sitting in silence…
Ginseng takes the place of the spring May Apple…
The forest is the only place sacred like a chapel…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

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Keystone State Park – Between Rain Showers

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All photographs were shot at Keystone State Park in Westmoreland County, PA… They are all available for sale as prints… Please email me with any questions or requests at c.condello@hotmail.com… plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

The Guerrilla Gardening Guidebook – Site Selection

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“Comfrey Flower on Blight” – Whitney Avenue – Wilkinsburg, PA – I have removed enough Comfrey to know better than to plant it in my own yard… So I grow it in front of abandoned houses and just cut what I need…

Site Selection

This post is part of a larger body of work titled ”The Guerrilla Gardening Guidebook”. For the introduction and table of contents please click here

Site selection is typically the easiest part of the whole process, in my experience, the site chooses me. My efforts are a direct protest to abandoned homes and lots sprinkled around my neighborhood, for this reason I tend to already have a good idea what my next target will be well in advance of actually beginning any work. Though the locations may be different, they all require the same few things – Water, soil, sunlight and access… Though access can often be worked around with a little ingenuity and a few seed bombs.

The very first thing you need to do is determine whether you intend to plant ornamental flowers, or vegetables for consumption. Ornamental gardens are meant to be seen, they are typically placed in public places where they can be enjoyed by the masses. Food crops on the other hand may be best suited away from the publics eye. This is not always the case of course… But if your garden is not directly visible from your house, it is typically the best practice.

Ornamental guerrilla gardens are often created as a civil means of protest against blighted land, for this reason they are typically planted in high visibility areas. Sometimes the point of the garden is simply to inspire other people to consider gardening in places that one would not normally consider, abandoned houses, street berms, hell strips, vacant lots, even potholes can be gardened. In my mind, simply mowing the lawn of land that you do not own is considered guerrilla gardening.

Food gardens tend to invite more trouble than their counterparts, for this reason alone I feel they should be relatively difficult to see from the road. Now I’m not saying you should build a ten foot privacy fence, I am saying you should plant anything that can become a projectile away from the street. Tomatoes can become a big problem if the kids decide to throw them at cars, a single Sungold tomato plant produces so much fruit that the kids will be entertained for hours… And not in a good way.

I typically prefer to develop entire lots when it comes to food, who wants to grow just a few tomato plants when you can grow one hundred! I like to fill the first twenty feet of the lot with tall ornamental plants, this is an attempt to shield the food from people passing by. Not every community is like mine, some are much more receptive to street side gardening. The temperament of the kids can vary from street to street, and every location will have its own issues. If you are new to a neighborhood, a quick conversation with your neighbors can often give some clues as to how receptive a neighborhood may be.

WAUFandMe

“Salvaged Grape Arbor” – Whitney Avenue Urban Farm – Whitney Avenue – Wilkinsburg, PA – The posts were very old grape vines that we cut out of the trees… The ladders were pulled from the trash… The crazy piece of wood I found on a job… Niagara Seedless and Concord Grapes…

Guerrilla food gardens are often created not with the intention of just feeding oneself, but sometimes to supplement the nutritional needs of an entire neighborhood. In this case, planting your crops in plain view can often be the best practice. Simply sharing your garden with all the inhabitants on the street increases the amount of eyes that will be watching the garden. You would be surprised how effective having a few older residents on your side can be, there is nothing scarier than a pissed off old lady moving full speed towards you. Security often costs just a few tomatoes or a bundle of greens, it can’t get any better than that.

Chances are pretty good that if you are reading this post, then you already have a site in mind. Long term guerrilla efforts require ease of access, gardens placed out-of-the-way tend to suffer. Food gardens require a lot more maintenance that flowers, for this reason a food garden will get much more attention if you regularly pass it and should therefore be planted as close to home as possible. Ornamental gardens on the other hand can go weeks without human intervention, for this reason they can often be maintained from a much further distance.

Some cities have organized groups that go out and garden, these can be great places to meet like-minded people. Other cities may have a few individuals fighting their own campaigns, slowly greening an urban lot at a time… I fall in to the second group… My efforts are typically solo, or with the help of a neighborhood kid or two. For that reason I choose my sites within a few block radius.

Street sides and public places add a level of excitement to the mix, nothing gets the heart pumping like the threat of a trespassing and vandalism charge. Choose a site with easy access, a carefully parked car can offer some protection from prying eyes and out of control vehicles. Make a plan before you get the shovels out, the last thing you want to do is stand there shuffling plants around. Sometimes, design gets thrown out the window in preference of speed, for this reason it is worth making a game plan before you get to your location. A guerrilla gardener should not be noticed by people, a guerrilla garden campaign lasts longest when the gardener is invisible.

To wrap this post up… Probably the single greatest variable will be the gardens neighbors… Sometimes they will be receptive, often they will not. You would be surprised how many urbanites like having an overgrown vacant lot next door, for many of them this is as close to living near nature as they can get. Be patient when dealing with these types of people, remember that although you think you are doing something good for your community, not everyone is going to see it that way.

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

This site… And all the photographs and information presented within are provided free of charge by the author… I am not affiliated with any product or business… Only myself… Writing this blog takes a ton of time… If you find any of this information helpful, please consider purchasing a print from my online store… It is obviously not a requirement… But it helps…

I sell prints of my photography here- http://www.society6.com/chriscondello Or you can contact me directly at c.condello@hotmail.com for commissions or locally/personally produced prints… Thank you for reading…

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After the Storm

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plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

5 AM and All is Well…

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“5 AM” – © chriscondello 2013 – Keystone State Park, PA

Awake before the mourning doves…
It’s 5 AM and all is well…
No one else but you and I…
It’s 5 AM and all is well…

Sitting quietly… Blue Heron Flying…
Fish are biting… Ducks are crying…
Nothing in the world like comfortable silence…
We quietly pray to nature for guidance…

Red sun rising over a mountain facade…
A scene reminiscent of a painting by God…
This morning we pray to the heavenly sky…
To our surprise we saw Gods reply…

No one else but you and I…
It’s 5 AM and all is well…
Awake before the mourning doves…
It’s 5 AM and all is well…

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“All is Well” – © chriscondello 2013 – Keystone State Park, PA
I have prints available to purchase here – http://www.society6.com/chriscondello – Or you can contact me directly at c.condello@hotmail.com for commissions or locally/personally produced prints…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

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Warm Glow – Home for Lunch

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“Jasmine” – © chriscondello 2013 – Whitney Avenue – Wilkinsburg, PA

The warm glow from the sky…
Radiates off my cool skin…
Washes away the depression…
Cleanses me of sin…

Dreaming of forests and lakes…
Longing for the rivers and streams…
Climbing up the tallest mountain…
These are my simple dreams…

So embrace the perfect heavens…
Take time to hug a tree…
Run through the endless flowers…
On your way to swim the sea…

Slow clouds black out the sun…
Shape shifting across the blue…
Creating a show of endless images…
A show that’s just for me and you…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

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Eco Soldier – Resource Wars

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“Resources” – © chriscondello 2013 – Abandoned House – Wilkinsburg, PA – What is a resource?.. It depends on your surroundings… You know… I have heard there are more abandoned houses than homeless people… If in fact that it true… The system is truly failing us…

How many trees will be cut to the ground?..
How much oil will be drilled from the earth?..
How much gas?.. How much coal?..
Another mine and we’ll be living in a hole…

Future skyscrapers… Gas tower skyline…
As dangerous as a nuclear land mine…
Sitting smack dab in the middle of a park…
And here we come walking in the dark…

Nuclear exposure… Tolerance builds…
Induced allergens… Medical bills…
Who the fuck is going to fight this war?..
Take this system and rattle it to its core…

We are all now ecological soldiers…
Gearing up to fight the resource wars…
Enemy combatants will come from far…
Just to fight over our sand and tar…

Domination is not a resolution…
Governments operate similar to prostitution…
Control healthcare… Control life and death…
Control the controllers every breath…

We are nothing more than a tax base…
Governments farm the human race…
Then they harvest our ripe green money…
Obama says it tastes slightly like honey…

Or a fine wine… Bought on our dime…
At an event that was attended by slime…
While they eat organic free range beef…
While you and I get fed Monsanto wheat…

GMO corn is like political porn…
Subsidies are just a way to weather the storm…
Farm stamp… I mean… Food stamp bill…
About the same as telling everyone to chill…

We got this… We got your back…
Would you rather we bring back a problem like crack…
War on drugs… Politicians are thugs…
Sweep the sweepers right under the rug…

Weather the storm… Storm the weather…
Either way we need to stand together…
We will never outgun the government machine…
Hold them accountable… Make them clean…

Stand up for what you believe in…
Whether God… Science… Or sin…
Stand up… Woman and men…
Time to fight… Words… Fists… Or pen…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

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