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Garden Proposal

On my high school’s National Honor Society page, I posted the following:

“Hi!! I’ve been thinking about how fresh vegetables are generally more expensive and take more time to prepare than, say, putting frozen pizzas in the microwave every night for your kids. Typically, healthy and “well-rounded” meals are a privilege of the middle class.
So, I was wondering if any of the elementary schools around here had children’s vegetable garden programs. If not, NHS could help set up something where kids could stay after school and tend a garden (with the guidance of teachers/NHS kids, of course), and then bring home some of the vegetables to their families. It could even be a summer program or something. We live in such a fertile area — we should take advantage of it.
I leave for college in a week, so I can’t do much, but you guys should talk about it together if you’re interested in contacting the elementary schools (or whoever) about it!”

One of the problems with my proposal is that children may figure out that we’re trying to do it for low class families. Children see class. Kids notice what gifts their friends receive for birthdays and holidays. They notice how frequently their classmates’ clothing is washed, and they noticed what their peers eat for lunch. Children are not blind. I don’t want this program, if established, to create more of a barrier between less wealthy children and more wealthy children.

Another problem is that the program would, of course, require funding. I don’t want families to have to pay to have their children enroll in the program. That would defeat the purpose. But how likely are we to collect donations of vegetable seeds and gardening tools?

I mean, how likely is this project to even be established? It depends on the enthusiasm of the high school students who read the Facebook post. It depends on the willingness of elementary school teachers to give up time. It depends on school administrators to offer land for use. I imagine that this project will not go farther than a few National Honor Society meetings.

But I suppose there was no harm in making the post. Perhaps it will get students thinking about some of their class privileges. 


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Middle Class Privilege

I have a fair amount of privilege. I am white, thin, able-bodied, able-minded with medication, cis, binary… the only privileges I do not have are male privilege and straight privilege. One privilege of mine that I spend little time thinking about is my class privilege. I was born into a middle class family and live in an area where my neighbors have incomes similar to my parents’ incomes. I’ve never felt embarrassed by my financial situation. We’ve always had food: healthy food, even. Our house has air conditioning. I have health insurance and visit the doctor regularly. The list goes on.

I attend a college that costs almost sixty thousand dollars total each year. Although my own bill is much lower than that thanks to grants and scholarships, the fact that I was even able to consider attending the school shows how luck I am. Oberlin is filled with middle class students like me. Our “hardships” are having to buy used cars instead of new cars and dealing with slow computers instead of getting upgrades. Literally. It’s not too hard to be middle class.

Although it’s a good thing to realize and acknowledge the privileges one has, it means nothing unless one changes their actions. And I haven’t been doing that. As an example, my friend could not attend Oberlin because he did not receive enough aid, and I became upset with him. Another friend spent a hundred dollars at the mall while not having any toilet paper in the house, and I questioned her choice on what to buy. Similarly, I recently read a post on Tumblr made by someone who has been told numerous times by friends to have her infected wisdom teeth removed. I can see myself doing that without questioning whether the person could afford the operation.

Too often, I assume that everyone can afford the same things that I do, and, when I realize that not everyone is middle class, I try to “help them out.” This involves ordering them to spend their money a certain way. You know what I’m talking about. “I can’t believe she bought a CD instead of buying vitamins!” “You adopted a dog? Don’t you think you should get your glasses repaired before making frivolous purchases?”

For some reason, I and other middle class people think that we have a right to tell other people how to manage their finances. This is interesting because I am middle class only because I am a child of middle class parents. I am not a finance expert, and the financial situation of my household has nothing to do with me or my actions.

I do not expect any spectacular compliments due to noticing my poor actions. This post is a reminder to myself that I don’t have a right to tell other people what to do, especially people who lack the many privileges I have.

A resource:

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Last summer, I saw a dog roaming around outside. The dog was a male beagle, and, upon timidly approaching him, I learned that he was very sweet and personable. His body was clean and he had obviously been well cared for in his home. My mother proceeded to call the local animal shelter, who came and picked him up.

A week later, my mother drove me to the same animal shelter so that I could pick up a volunteer application. We were in the back room checking out all the dogs when we noticed a familiar face. It was the dog that had been roaming our neighborhood! A week later, no one had claimed him yet.

I had previously convinced my mother that we most certainly needed to adopt a dog from the shelter. (We live with another beagle, Maggie, who has been with us since her birth in 2007.) Upon running into the same dog again, my mother decided that it was fate. We adopted him the next week. The dog had been named Boscoe by the shelter, and our veterinarian guessed his age to be between five and six years old.

My parents refer to him as Bozz, and I call him Bozzles. His personality is more dog-like than Maggie’s personality. His tail wags constantly, unlike Maggie’s, which wags only once or twice a day. Bozzles loves everyone in the family and is happy when any of us return home from an outing. Maggie only enjoys being pet by my mother, though she politely tolerates the rest of us. She also only tolerates the outdoors; she gets tired of the yard five minutes after being let out. However, Bozz can spend hours outside, chasing after squirrels, napping, barking at toads, and sniffing all of the plants. He never seems to be tired of the backyard.

I have learned a lot from Bozzles about being a better human. The idea that living with a dog turns you into a better person is so frequently stated that is almost a cliche, but I find it to be absolutely true. I try to be eager to compliment others, as he is eager to please those around him. I have realized that, sometimes, quietly sitting next to someone you love is a great way to show affection. I have made a resolution to smile as much as possible and to spend more time learning about things I love.

This beagle is definitely my favorite living being on the earth. The living thing previously holding this title was spinach. Although I am still very fond of a good spinach dish, it can’t cuddle like a dog can.

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