Painting the Vandals Green

Los Berros Elementary is situated in a nice neighborhood of Mission Hills.  It is hardly a beacon of gang activity.  None the less, the garden has had some issues with people knocking over structures and walking all over the beds.  In one instance, a group of third graders had constructed a “city” out of sticks to protect the young seedlings they had planted.  We were all impressed with their effort and the resulting creation.  One morning, the entire “city” had been knocked over and the bed trampled on.  A few seedlings made it but the kids decided to clean it all up, re-till the soil, and put down new seeds and “buildings”.  We came back the next week…and it had happened again.  Other beds were getting trampled on as well and the shed had been pulled off of its bracing and was knocked over on the ground.

We brainstormed solutions to the problem.  Ideas included a roof, full time security guards, abarbwire fencing, and machine gun turrets.  Foreseeing potential funding and liability issues, we settled on a sign.

The next week I brought two 4′ x 8′ plywood boards, semi-gloss paint, brushes, and hardware to affix the boards to a fence.  Five different classes took a crack at painting one side of each board.  Popular things they painted included peace signs, names, characters, and other designs.  My intent was for them to simply lay down paint.  The third grade class that put so much time into the garden “city” painted a large “Please Respect Our Garden”.  At the end of the day when everything was dry I hung the boards on the fence.

Two weeks later and the beds are untouched.  With a little bit of luck this infusion of karma will protect the garden and let it grow for years to come.

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