Guerrilla Gardeners

The Guerrilla Gardeners are on a mission to secretly beautify Winters, one planter box at a time.

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The ring of Gyges, is a mythical artifact used as a philosophical tool by Plato. The ring grants its wearer the power of at-will invisibility, to do anything at all without detection. Please take a moment to dream of what you would do if you had this power. If you’ve stopped to appreciate the cyclamen lately, then you’ve noticed it’s getting lovelier around Winters. This beautification is thanks to a group of community-minded volunteers called Guerrilla Gardeners. These public-spirited women and sturdy men have been pruning bushes, pulling weeds, and planting flowers as informal volunteers, sans recognition. Guerrilla Gardeners began meeting about four months ago, when a key organizer said, “This corner could look at lot better,” eliciting her enterprising friend’s response, “Well, I’ll go with you.” Since then they have been working wherever it is needed: adding soil, weeding, pruning, re-planting, trimming back shrubs and even cleaning leaves. In addition to attracting the use of extra hands from like-minded locals, generous donations of landscaping materials and much appreciated funds for colorful perennials, the group has since procured permission and gratitude from the city and several downtown businesses. Although “Guerrilla is defined as: referring to actions or activities performed in an impromptu way, often without authorization. The group, not wanting to “step on toes,” subvert the Parks Department or imply merchants were falling short of their storefront maintenance decided to ask for authorization. Eleanor “Ellie” Yeatman met with appropriate city officials and business owners to ask their permissions and communicate the group’s desires to offer their skillful voluntary care. “I’m thinking of getting t-shirts that say ‘Will work for mulch,'” Yeatman laughs, adding with a smile “The city has an account with a nursery, but it doesn’t deal in bedding plants, they do shrubs and trees so when we need color, we have to go somewhere else. So, we haven’t solved that problem yet,” says Yeatman. Another volunteer offered their perspective, “I know that the money the city has comes from State and Feds and there are a lot of stipulations with that, and if you don’t follow that, you lose the money. So, the discretionary funds are small. I love Winters. This is my home and there is no reason I can’t step up and help out, no reason. So, I think we should do it, cause of the love of the town.’ Environmental Services Manager for City of Winters Carol Scianna said, “We have limited staff that can handle all the parks that have grown tremendously in terms of acreage and ongoing maintenance, and so it’s been challenging for us to keep up, so we appreciate their efforts. They’ve done a great job of checking in with us and coordinating what help they might need from our staff to do what they want to do… In terms of funding, we have also a very limited planting budget,…” says Scianna, adding “I know they want to do a big area at the D.O Judy tree at the corner of Main and Railroad. Scianna remembers many partnerships between the city and private citizens, she recalled providing materials for one Winters youth group who would routinely volunteer to help the city abate graffiti along Putah Creek Nature Park, saying “…that was another really great partnership that someone took the initiative to start up.”   Guerrilla Gardeners has the same beautifying goal but many areas of focus. Yeatman says, “My focus is on this particular corner. It’s stark and naked and could be gorgeous and beautiful. I guess what we need is manpower, and people who know how to do irrigation systems, then just people who are willing to get out there to rake the leaves and dig holes.” The ethos of the Guerrilla Gardeners could be summarized by Yeatman’s closing statement. “Nobody can do everything, but everybody can do a little.” While some cities have a beautification tax to help make their destinations attractive to tourists. Winters business owners and citizens might rather donate than be mandated to pay a similar tax. Perhaps the Guerrilla Gardeners will find their support sprouting this spring. Those that have more monetary resources than ready strength reserves are welcome to take action now and contribute to the GUERRILLA GARDENERS account at First Northern Bank. Regarding the Ring of Gyges, very few, if any, say that they would perform acts of service or generosity while invisible. Human nature describes people as highly exposed when they are performing charity, generating good will or showing kindness. ]]>

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