Growing Communities with Green of Hearts

Sometimes a hobby can turn into a passion, and that passion can change your community. Such was the case for Bonita Cason-Atlow.

After finding herself out of a job she held for twenty years, she found herself searching for purpose. She found it in a perfectly-heart shaped green tomato she pulled from her garden.

With her free time, she started gardening more, and took some of her fruits and vegetables to Interfaith Outreach Homes, a housing development for low-income individuals. She donated more than 20 types of food, and the staff were ecstatic.

Atlow took her love of gardening and whole foods and took it to the people of Atlanta. Now, her nonprofit Green of Hearts works with individuals and organizations to build community gardens and teach groups how growing and cultivating their own food can lead to healthier, more sustainable lifestyles.

Green of Hearts mission is to is to “alleviate societal issues concerning malnutrition, hunger, and obesity within populations at risk by establishing gardens – and a mindset – wherever there is an open space and a need.”

They achieve this mission through programming all over the city, working to turn black thumbs green. With their Senior Horticulture Education program, Green of Hearts works with senior citizens in an hour of gardening and garden-themed crafts. Then, to further help the community at large, the organization works with community groups, schools, churches, and residential centers to work on installing gardens and teach ways to cultivate and maintain them.

One of their biggest projects is with the Interfaith Outreach Home, as part of their efforts to create immersive community support. They work with residents and families to teach gardening and life skills, and show families how to incorporate the food and skills into their daily lives.

Through their community gardens, Green of Hearts hopes to inhibit community ownership, engage self-sufficiency, help citizens control obesity, provide access to nutritional foods for low-income families, and increase physical activity.

Atlow hopes to inspire people on the benefits of community gardening. “Cultivating and changing the way something is currently being used is a way to bring people together,” she said. “The goal is that we grow and share and sit down and have a meal together. I think we’ve forgotten how to just sit and talk and look at each other.”

“We are changing our direction of the way we view life,” she closed. “We are putting our hands together and doing something.”

The organization is always looking for volunteers to help with garden installations, garden maintenance, and carpentry. Volunteers can sign up and help out as individuals or in groups. The nonprofit is also always in need of financial support to carry out its programs, and donations go toward gardening equipment, seeds and plants, community outreach, and operations. Those interested can sign up or donate on Green of Hearts’ website at www.greenofhearts.org.

Don’t Stress, Clear the Mess

As the flowers are blooming and the temperatures are rising, the amount of clutter on your desk may have also been on the rise throughout the winter months. Spring time is here and with it comes a time to organize the clutter in your life. Whether your home, car, or work space typically remains organized or if organization is unfamiliar territory for
you, spring cleaning doesn’t have to be stressful and can actually improve your health and overall well being.Spring Cleaning

Spring is a time when people go into somewhat of a cleaning “frenzy” after being stuck inside the house all winter with shorter days and evenless motivation. Consider the following health benefits when deciding whether or not to participate in spring cleaning this year.

  1. Boost your productivity. Is your area covered with papers, old coffee mugs, stacks of used sticky notes and dried out pens? If so, tidying up these spaces will help you organize your thoughts and allow you to work more efficiently.
  1. Improve your eating habits. According to the Association for Psychological Science, working at a clean and prim desk may promote healthy eating and generosity. Grab a basket or storage bin at your local Goodwill and start living a healthier life while cutting the clutter.
  1. Save money. Living a more organized and cleaner life has effects on many parts of your well being. If you find yourself late on paying bills because you can’t find them, replacing items you still have because they’re missing, or eating out more often because the kitchen is too cluttered for regular cooking, participating in spring cleaning may actually save money in all areas of your life. 
  1. Reduce stress and live a happier life. Let’s face it, clutter can be stressful. Having peace of mind in knowing where your belongings are will reduce unwanted stress in your life. Even the act of cleaning can provide feelings of satisfaction. Put on some of your favorite tunes and enjoy the journey to a more organized and happier life. 
  1. Letting go is more liberating than you know. Get rid of the old, make room for the new and celebrate spring cleaning this year instead of dreading it. Not only is cleaning the clutter of your life a time to wipe the dust off your belongings and store them in their correct places, but it’s also a time to get rid of the things you’ve held on to for too long. Donate these items to make a difference in someone else’s life, as well as clearing the clutter from your own. It’s a win-win situation.

Resolve to be Successful at Work

ResolveJohn Maxwell once said, “You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” Each year 45-percent of Americans set resolutions for the new year. Of this 45-percent, only 8-percent are successful in achieving their resolution. To make 2017 your most successful one yet, consider these simple and achievable workplace resolutions to add to your routine, along with tips for maintaining them.

1. Listen and communicate effectively. Being an effective communicator begins with listening. This year, try to not leave people waiting for answers. Keep your coworkers updated, thank them if they’ve helped you and don’t be afraid to ask questions when needed.

2. Stretch yourself to grow. Start with asking yourself, “How can I go above and beyond?” Stepping out of your work comfort zone will allow you to expand your knowledge, as well as your experience.

3. Get fit. After a season full of cookies and holiday parties, it’s no surprise that getting fit is one of the most common resolutions. Getting fit is not only beneficial for your health, it is also helpful in creating success in the workplace. Adding simple activities to your routine, such as going for a 20-minute walk, will increase your likelihood of living a healthy lifestyle and sticking to this resolution. Don’t forget, a healthy body creates a healthy mind.

4. Maintain a healthy work-life balance. With technology allowing workers to stay in constant communication with work, this resolution may seem almost impossible. But all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Remember to reward your hard work with some well-deserved play. Drawing clear lines and sticking to them may even help you stay sharper while on the job and help you resolve workplace issues more efficiently.