I live in the "IT" city. It's a small town filled with big dreams. I guess you could call me a transplant, but I consider myself to be at home as I grew up a mere 40 miles south of here. Growing up, we spent a lot of time in Nashville - dentist and doctor appointments, dining out, theater performances and shopping. It was natural for my husband, also a Middle Tennessee native, and I to move here after getting married and having kids. Through the years the city has drastically changed, mostly for the better, though sometimes I wonder at the small things that we have lost.
nothing that we are the "it" city. We have become a foodie's dream as well. (Okay, this I don't mind so much.) After years of being subjected to the O'Charley's of the world (Nashville is their headquarters as well) and having only a few local haunts (goodbye Sunset Grill), we finally have a fantastic selection of restaurants and coffee joints rivaling any major city. You may be scratching your head at this point and wondering what I have to complain about. Truthfully, I find living in Nashville very exciting. It is a beautiful city with three back to back mayors who have focused on revitalizing the city in meaningful ways. And, with Mayor Karl Dean's commitment to making Nashville as "green" as possible it is a wonderful place to live.
It's a small thing, really. Small in comparison to say, a new AAA baseball field. Or, small in regards to a new downtown ampi-theater. You see, we aren't really football fans. We don't attend hockey games. We do occasionally attend Nashville Sounds baseball games - mostly with my son's Boy Scout troop or some other organization who is using a game as a social event. Let's stop there and talk about the new Sounds stadium. According to www.bizjournals.com "the Metro Council and the Metro Sports Authority approved a $65 million municipal financing plan to cover the city's share of ballpark costs." Now, add an additional $10 million to that cost and we are close to the actual cost as well as the grand-opening of the park. I am sure we will enjoy the new park the one or two times each year we attend games. However, based on never having seen the old park more than 50% full at any game (and it is a nice park) I cannot quite wrap my mind around the steep price tag. But, the cost of the park is not really the point.
The point is what we don't have, or rather what we had but lost. It's a playground. I can see why the city thought we wouldn't miss it. Who needs a big neighborhood playground when you have the new Cumberland Park at a cost of approximately $16 million (see image below) or the soon to be opened West Riverfront Park - at a cost of $35 million? I mean, there is nothing than I love better than taking my folding chair to an ampi-theater (I still miss Starwood) and listening to good music or driving into downtown for an afternoon playdate where the children can soak themselves in the fountains or climb 'til their hearts content. The fact that these parks are a mere 6 miles from my home makes them even more appealing. However, I would also really like to walk over to our neighborhood park with my kiddos for an afternoon of fun without worrying about how much it will cost me to park my car or constantly watching the time to be sure we leave before the three hours of rush hour traffic make what should be a 10 minute drive turn into 45 minutes. There are other parks we could visit. There is Centennial Park (where we have and will continue to spend hours), which we love and is currently being remodeled at the cost of $6 million (see a theme here?). The problem is that all of these parks being built or revitalized are in the interior of the city. And again, though in miles they may not be far, they can be quite a drive during much of the day.
I guess you can see why I say it's a small thing. You see we live next to one of Nashville's largest green spaces - Two Rivers Park. TRP is a 374 acre park boasting greenways, a disc golf course, wave pool, golf course, a dog park (don't even get me started) and at one time housed a beautiful, big, multi-age wooden play structure that was built by the residents of Donelson. It was community built and my children loved it. If you've read my blog for a while you know I have a 13 year old and 9 year old. This playground was great for both kids. With wonderful places to allow for even the most fierce game of hide and seek, swings, slides, climbing bars, monkey bars - it was a dream for every parent and child looking for an afternoon of fun. Through no fault of its own, it was also in a state of disrepair. And now, it is gone.
(Below you will see two images of the playground not long before it was torn down. The third image is one of a similar playground across town - Red Caboose - who may be facing a similar fate depending on the decision of the new high school plans the city is proposing.)
Our playground has been replaced by this sad excuse (not holding back) for a playground most suited for the 3 to 6 year old crowd. To be honest, at this part of my blog post, I have few words to truly express how sad and angry and frustrated I am at this loss. This has been a long time coming. When I woke up recently to see the news that Mayor Dean has requested another $1 million to support the Grammy addition to the Musicians Hall of Fame, I made the decision to not take it anymore. I appreciate the business of running a city. I know our leaders want to bring in money and jobs. But, what our leaders are failing to realize is that families like mine have a stake in this, too.
We are the homeowners, wage earners, the care-takers of the city's most precious resource; we are the car-poolers and the Scout parents, the bake-saler; we are also the folks who infuse this economy with a great deal of money and we count too. I'm not a hipster though I hang out with hip people. I'm not involved in local politics, though my husband and I are both very involved in local organizations with our volunteer work. I have been to the Musicians Hall of Fame, but it was only to look at an event space for a large fundraiser I was hosting (and let me say it is a beautiful way to re-energize Municipal Auditorium). I do go to the popular local restaurants and you may see my hubby and I or my girlfriends at I having drinks in the Gulch. But, you'll find me more often in the car hauling children around, at a local park or at the farmer's market when not in my own garden or sitting at the kitchen table homeschooling my kids. In short, WE ARE NASHVILLE, too and we want our playground back. Today if possible.
So, Mayor Dean and city leaders and 2015 mayoral candiates, if you are reading this, I want you to consider investing in my community. I mean, thanks for all you are doing. You are certainly not getting rich doing it. And, having sat on boards requiring me to steer organizations I know that your decisions are not easy, especially at the level at which you are doing it. Thanks for having vision and turning this city around when so many cities are finding themselves amid decay and turmoil. What I want is a small thing really in the scheme of so many large projects around the city. So, if you could help in this small matter, I would greatly appreciate it.
Resident of Hip Donelson
Do you belong to a CSA? Do you know what CSA means? I hope so as it is a full-swing back to to how many people in the world acquire food and how, once upon a time, we acquired food ourselves - if we did not grow it ourselves. (In case you do not know it is Community Supported Agriculture.) Off and on for years we have been part of the CSA experience. I primarily signed us up during summers when I was home with the kids. Like this summer. If being truthful, I can tell you that some of our experiences were not great.
When CSA's first began here there were only a couple. These people were not only pioneers in hosting a CSA in my area, they are pioneers in healthy growing techniques here and around the country. But, their CSA left something to be desired - for me anyway. The pick-up was out of the way during rush hour, the vegetables were sometimes exotic and frequently those exotic veggies were more than plentiful while things we really wanted - like green beans or onions were in short supply. Now, producer only farmer's markets and CSA's are plentiful in our agriculturally rich area and I carefully chose the CSA to supplement my own home garden efforts this year. I do believe my patience and continued support of this food movement has paid off!
Okay. So now you belong to a CSA. How do you make it work? How do you make the foods coming from the CSA work for your family and prevent throwing food away? Well, there are many ways, but today I am focusing on prepping the food when it comes in. Luckily for us, our farmers clean the produce before it gets to us. Many CSA's do not. That's okay. The dirt that comes from our CSA reminds us that food does not come from the grocery store but from the farmers who work the land. Too few of us remember that as convenience and technology take further holds in our lives.
In case there is confusion, I'll go through each of these steps.
1. Pick up your veggies.
2. Take them home.
3. Unpack your bounty on a clean, clutter free counter. Why a clean, clutter free counter? If you are like me and you attempt to do this amid a mess, you may give up before you get started or you may attempt to clean first making you far too exhausted to prep your veggies.
4. Wash your veggies (soak if necessary). Why soak? My farmer washes my veggies (or one of his 10 children does so). But, I have belonged to a CSA where the veggies came fresh from the ground and needed a soaking to remove the dirt. In case you are concerned....dirt good. (For the record, little bug bites in your plants are good too. They let you know your farmer is on the up and up.) Also, if you have greens they may have been picked the day before and wilted along the way. A good soak in ice water will perk them right up.
5. Prep the produce if needed. In the first photo you will see my prep process. For smaller amounts or things such as onions, I dice and store in mason jars that will go into my fridge. Guess what? I prepped enough onions for a week's worth of meals. You CANNOT imagine how much time that has saved me over the past few weeks. Everything is prepped and ready to cook/eat.
6. Decide what will be placed where. Most everything will go into the fridge, but some things, such as fresh herbs that were dried in the oven, are now in herb jars in the cabinet. You may receive an abundance of potatoes at some point. Those can be stored under the house or in a cool basement.
7. Place in appropriate containers. You can see I like to use mason jars for many items. They are an inexpensive way to store foods and you can place many in the fridge or freezer together. Though I prefer glass, you can see I have two plastic containers.
"That is one of my more brilliant ideas. And between you and me, that is saying something." - Albus Dumbledore
This is what we call "the salad bar". We love a salad bar. Whole Foods. Jason's Deli. You get it, right? I have two three section containers in which I place our favorite salad bar faves for quick salads. Greens go in the larger sections. The smaller ones have black olives, sunflower seeds, cranberries and raw feta. There are many ways to store your veggies. Find the ones that work for you.
8. Finally! Store your veggies. There is some small satisfaction I get in opening my fridge, pantry, etc. and seeing all of the love I get from my farmer and the work I put into using the bounty in a healthy way.
I am going to leave you with some sobering facts and links: One-fifth of our nation's garbage is food waste. We are fat, sick, unhealthy and we throw away the gifts of the Earth each and every day. When you think of our parents saying to us "eat your food, there are children starving on the other side of the world", guess what? It's true. In fact, being so entrenched in the adoption community here I know many of those former starving children. Not only do we throw the food away, we put it into plastic bags that will never break down when it could be composted into reusable plant food for your home garden or for animals who surely come out at night.
I’m Dana Croy and I am a modern day mama. Balancing family and work is not always easy (not to mention a little self-care). Though being Mama to two fantastic kiddos is a huge part of my life, that was not always the case. I wear many other hats and invite to sit down and find harmony with me.