In a course focused on how to make groups function in more equitable ways, it is no
surprise we spent most of our time discussing how we interact with each other – how to create
relationships and how to nurture them.
We have also learned that sometimes lessons around what might be abstract ideas, to
begin with, are best taught through visual aids. For relationships, our group continually pointed
back to one image: a thriving organic garden and a few gardeners tending to the plants to help
strengthen their existence.
The image of gardeners as leaders is especially powerful when compared to the typical
corporate model meant to create a one size fits all leadership structure. Instead of drowning out
uniqueness as the corporate model does, gardeners celebrate diversity to the fullest extent in
every sense of the word. Such celebration goes beyond simply making sure all feel welcome,
but that all have equal opportunity to contribute, voice opinion, and influence the direction of our
community in ways that benefit all.
99% of the time, the garden can be referred back to as a guide for innovative leadership
and how to impact our spaces in a more equitable way. However, there is just one part of the
garden vs gardeners metaphor that has not sat well with me. Why does it seem predetermined
who is a gardener and who is a plant? Why is there this predetermined inequality in a space
where we have worked so hard to remove just that?