My name is Ali. My favorite flower, Shepherd’s Purse, is a weed. You can find an abundant amount of it in the cracks in the sidewalks along the streets and even next to the highway. It is strong and delicate with roots that can survive and help to heal dying soil. it has small heart-shape seeds that contain properties that help to clot blood and used to be used to survive battle wounds. When I run into this weed I remember that I’m alive and surviving, vulnerable and beautiful, and able to be of service — a part of all things living and dead.
I think everyone has a seed of intention that they are born with waiting to blossom and be a part of the universe. For most of my life, I felt in search or in need of a guide to help me navigate my path. Even as a child, I felt a deep desire to help other people be happy and I would play with them so we could have moments of truth together.
Growing up I felt the suffering of my family, with an addict father and a single mother struggling to sustain my sister’s and my life. I found the bigger picture in which we live, and turned towards helping to heal others and the world–create social change so we could all live in a happy, sustainable life of abundance and love. I joined various movements working on social change, but the more I jumped from place to place, I was always faced with myself, fighting and full of anger, and allowing it to feed my addiction.
Addiction is a hereditary disease of the brain, recognized by the American Medical Association. When my addiction was activated and become so bad that I was using 24/7, completely isolated, constantly on the verge of complete homelessness and unable to love, headed quickly towards a sure death, I realized I had lost my intention. I was no longer growing and I knew I could, so I chose to do something different.
I admitted myself to Janus, an inpatient rehab center, and spent two months there. When I graduated, I had little direction, and a lot of desperation, hope and faith. But most importantly I had a guide, my Higher Power. Immediately I was hired as a trainee for the Homeless Garden Project, a place where I found security, and sustainability, a lot of opportunity to heal and to cultivate life and practice social change. I was a seed of intention, given the right environment, elements, community…nurtured, determined, hard-working, and growing so that I could offer myself to the world like a tomato plant tomatoes and we get to make a salad and share it together at lunch time!
The Homeless Garden Project practices social change. Creating social change is a practice of sustainability, by co-creating community, sharing food, helping each other and the earth to heal, and live within today’s circumstances by providing security. There is a lot of unsustainability in the universe, all the way up to all the various technologies we don’t know how to clean up out of the atmosphere because we cannot afford it. This is how capitalism works, it needs more and more to sustain itself and only itself. Homelessness is an inevitable outcome.
The donations that go straight toward the trainees’ wages are an act of care and giving, the exact opposite of how capitalism works. It subverts capitalism, without creating a fight, but by helping others make a transformation. I hope that we continue to build this community in which all people and living things are supported on their life paths, so that seed of intention that they hold within them can blossom and belong to the universe.
–Ali graduated from the Homeless Garden Project. She has found her path, working as a preschool teacher and going back to school for a Waldorf Teacher Training program. She is able to help play and cultivate imagination in the most loving and open children’s lives that she works with. She continues at Homeless Garden Project as a volunteer.