Will You Help Plant a Garden to Fix the World?

Holly Chessman, who has been dealing with Long Covid, is asking for help to turn her front yard into a garden of flowers. Courtesy photo

By Holly Chessman  

Can flowers and a touch of magic fix the world? I’m going to give it a try. Will you help me make this dream come true? 

These days, the world feels like it’s broken. People on both sides of the political line are refusing to talk to or work with one another. Devastating international wars are raging and there’s no clear way to resolve them. The climate has gone terrifyingly wild. And in my personal life, much of my worldview has been reduced to what I see out of my bedroom window.

About two and a half years ago, I got Long Covid and it drastically changed me. Before I got sick, I was helping businesses figure out their strategies, running a household together with my husband, writing books, doing public speaking, and mentoring women returning to work. After getting sick, though, I ended up a person who is helpless in bed, some days barely able to think.

Long Covid opened the door to a variety of chronic illnesses and issues, most of which I had never even heard of before these past few years. I wish I were still oblivious. However, now I have intimate knowledge of such problems as Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), Trigeminal Neuralgia, Insomnia, REM Sleep Behavior Disorder, Migraine, and Gastroparesis. Apparently, I have all the obscure illnesses.

While looking out of my window, I’ve had a lot of time to think about my own world and the greater world around me. Mostly, I look at my front yard because that’s the view I have from my bedroom where I generally spend my day. 

People have been coming together to help plant a garden full of flowers where there used to be only grass at Holly Chessman’s home. Courtesy photo

Over time, I’ve thought to myself, “My front lawn is somewhat representative of the world around me. It’s not horrible and life exists on it, but it is far from ideal. In fact, it’s somewhat ugly. What if I could do something to fix the situation? What if I could make changes that result in tikkun olam?”

“Tikkun olam” is a Jewish concept that literally means “repair the world.” In order to do something that truly qualifies as tikkun olam, there are a few requirements. First, it has to involve an action taken deliberately by a human to fix a problem created by humans. Second, it should concentrate on something that improves a cross section of society, not just Jews.

I’ve always believed in magic and the healing beauty of nature’s lifecycle. I find flowers inspiring as they help my imagination bloom even while they cheer my senses. Wildflowers and pollinators are the most inspiring of all to my mind. They are hearty and good for the earth. And I’m a huge fan of fairies and magic.

Slowly, an idea formed. What if I could turn my drab front lawn into a magical garden filled with pollinator plants, pathways, and magical characters? Then I could share that with the town’s children and adults. Maybe I could even eventually build a little lending library, invite people to play music, show art, who knows? The possibilities are endless!

I love the thought of bringing the community together over beauty, art, and magic. It’s good for our planet and our hearts. What’s more, it is tikkun olam, bringing a bit of healing to our lives and our world.

There are only a few problems with my grand plan:

1) I don’t know the first thing about turning a front yard into a garden.

2) I am mostly bedbound. I can sit outside, but bending over and standing up a lot are out.

3) I have no budget. I’m on disability and we have three kids at home and three dogs.

So, I’ve put out a call for help. And this wonderful community in which we live has answered. 

This past weekend, people came together to generously donate plants, time, and labor to make this dream come true. 

The resulting beginning of my garden is beautifully amazing, although it is still in its nascency. I am in a daze. I can’t believe this is actually happening. I feel like I stepped into a Disney movie and someone started singing, “When You Wish Upon a Star.” 

People (some of whom are meeting one another for the first time) have been working together, quickly overcoming what initially seemed impossible: planting a garden full of flowers where there used to be only grass. This feels to me like what tikkun olam is all about.

There is still more work to be done. Will you come help plant, too? And/or bring any extra pollinator or wildflowers that you would be willing to share? And the fairy items still need to be cleaned up and moved in! 

If you are interested in helping, please write to me at [email protected].  

Together, we can create a pollinator fairy garden to fix the world, one magical flower at a time.

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