No, these names are not those of contestants on an MTV reality show about up-and-coming rappers. Rather, they are the aliases of members of Los Angeles-based Guerrilla Gardening troupe. Their posted mission is “to beautify our neighborhoods and create community,” and they achieve that goal by showing up at neglected green areas throughout the city, planting gardens, and fleeing. Returning periodically under the cover of night, the group waters and weeds their secret gardens.
Is there a piece of land in your community you would like to see transformed into a garden? Think about taking a page out of the Guerrilla Gardening playbook.
“We prefer to beg forgiveness than ask permission,” explains one member in this video about them for the Toyota Charged Life Campaign. Troupe members make every effort to be respectful, and say they have yet to have any complaints from authorities or community members.
Led by troupe members “Roly Poly” and “Mr. Stamen,” the idea began as a group of friends looking for a way to come together in community and brighten up a dingy corner in a Hollywood neighborhood. After their first planting, the group new they wanted to do more. Since then, projects have included an herb garden on a strip of land next to a parking lot, a window box of plants on a public library, and various highway median makeovers. People from all over the Los Angeles area have gotten involved–from creating new gardens start-to-finish to showing up occasionally with a watering can.
If you’re interested in getting your hands dirty in your community, you can contact Guerrilla Gardening for tips on how to organize a troupe of your own in your town (or get involved with one of theirs if you happen to live in the LA area). Or start small! One of their favorite activities is throwing “seed bombs” — each about an inch in diameter, the bombs are mixtures of clay, compost, and wildflower seeds. Roll up a few, wait for a rain, and then toss them into some orphaned land that could use a little color.
Beautifying community areas through flowers and plants is not only good for the environment (more oxygen!), it can lift your neighbors’ spirits as they walk to the store or to catch a bus. If you have ideas for ways to improve the scenery of neglected areas, we’d love to hear about it in the comments section!
Says Mr. Stamen, “The thing that’s most exciting for us is not the work that we do but the work that it inspires other people to do.”