How Can You “Grow a Row” This Week?

My wife is an excellent gardener, and tends to our vegetable garden, growing a good portion of our food over the Summer months and beyond. This year, from twin desires of getting more connected with our local community and making a small contribution to address local food insecurity, she signed us up to join our local volunteer-led Grow-a-Row group. The initiative encourages local gardeners to grow an extra row of vegetables in their garden; once these small contributions are brought together they can make a difference in providing fresh produce for families in the local community who face food insecurity. (There are similar volunteer-led groups in various local communities in the US and elsewhere in the world – search online if you’re interested!)

The idea is so simple and is not new, and yet it’s also so powerful: Taking something you are already doing – and hopefully enjoying – and adding just a little more, knowing throughout that this will contribute to others. This week I’ve been wondering how this relates to the work of building authentic community in the workplace and beyond. We may not all have the space or the skills to physically ‘grow a row’, but what are some equivalents in areas other than growing food? How can we engage in ‘growing a row’ this week?

This Week’s Tip:

Make a small investment in ‘growing a row’ for others on your team – or your wider community – this week:

  1. Reflect on actions that bring you joy. This might be something very different from gardening; perhaps writing, research, repairing broken machines, wellness exercises, painting… it could be anything.
  2. Reflect on your areas of privilege. This might connect with the first point (you might have ample resources to explore those things that bring you joy), or it might not. How do you experience privilege in a way that not everyone around you does?
  3. Where those two points intersect, consider what ‘growing a row’ might look like for you. What this looks like for each person is unique depending on your passions and resources. This might look like letting your team know you love to do historical research and offering your services on projects where that might be helpful. It might look like offering a lunchtime drawing/painting workshop to your team. It might look like researching a list of BIPOC-owned local businesses for your local or company DEI committees. The options here are limitless.
  4. Make a space for others to do the same. As you ‘grow a row’ others around you may want to do the same. Great! But if you are their manager or if there are other power dynamics involved, make sure the choice is theirs. The idea is to inspire them, rather than require them.

We’d love to know how this goes for you; contact us or post in our Facebook group.

Published by Ian Jackson

Ian Jackson is the founder of Building Bridges Leadership, which works with individuals, teams, and organizations to create authentic community in the workplace. He also writes children's fiction and teaches creative writing.

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