Losing them, fixing them, forgetting to put them in
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Dan Barker is executive director of the Home Gardening Project Foundation. He lives in Jacksonville, Oregon, and has a new English mastiff named Bart, “who, like me, is more mouth than brains.”
It’s summer, and I’m taking two women from a foundation that helps fund my work to see where the money is being spent, and if the money is being turned into productive, life-sustaining gardens.
This month marks The Sun’s twenty-fifth anniversary. As the deadline for the January issue approached — and passed — we were still debating how to commemorate the occasion in print. We didn’t want to waste space on self-congratulation, but we also didn’t think we should let the moment pass unnoticed. At the eleventh hour, we came up with an idea: we would invite longtime contributors and current and former staff members to send us their thoughts, recollections, and anecdotes about The Sun. Maybe we would get enough to fill a few pages.
What we got was enough to fill the entire magazine.
Though we haven’t devoted the whole issue to the anniversary, we have allowed the section to grow beyond our original plans. After seeing the pieces, we felt that our readers would enjoy them as much as we did — for the information about the magazine’s history, for the glimpses into the writers’ lives, and (not least) for the quality of the writing.
Both men were probably in their forties, tending their fields like the men of their village had for a thousand years, defending their families and their livelihood and their land like men everywhere. In a few hours or in a few days they would be dead — after the ARVN beat confessions out of them, or applied electrodes to their balls and sent jolts of concentrated anguish through their bodies until they wished to escape by dying, by being shot in the head or dragged behind an Amphtrack or thrown from a helicopter, anything to make the pain stop.
A Crip gang member approached the woman for whom I was building a vegetable garden — an old woman on welfare, an ex-prostitute, ex-waitress, ex-chicken-butchering plant worker. He said he was tired, pimping was hard work.