Meet your extraordinary
neighbors: Ruthe the psychic, Roosevelt the grandpa, Joan the single
mom, Karl the community organizer. Witness them take over an abandoned
lot in Berkeley, California, and transform it over a five-year period
into a disarmingly beautiful community garden and commons area,
a vibrant space alive with kids, neighborhood events, lush planting
beds, eco-friendly demonstration projects and stunning public art.
See how through the process these diverse characters discover that
they really do have A Lot in Common.
But it’s not all flowers and sunshine. Gardeners clash over
the political correctness of accepting a donation of water-guzzling
sod from a local nursery. Ruthe’s rabbit gets loose and eats
Joan’s vegetables. A Lot in Common raises the timely question:
how can we work out our differences to fully celebrate our unique
individuality? How do we build community?
The eccentric members of the Peralta Community Peace Garden root
themselves into the neighborhood and into our hearts as we see them
accomplish incredible feats with their volunteer spirit and plenty
of elbow grease. Raised beds are filled with pick and shovel; an
arbor is constructed out of renewable bamboo using an ancient barnraising
technique. The East Bay Dialogue Group of Arabs and Jews adopt the
garden as common ground for their discussion meetings. And when
one gardener is beset with a life-threatening illness, the others,
once strangers, rally to her side.
Amy Blackstone created the beautifully sculpted gate through which
we enter and exit the garden:
"It gives me this incredible boost of hope, even
to the point of feeling like maybe world peace is possible. To transform
this useless, unused piece of property into now it’s a place
that’s thriving with neighbors, growing their food, getting
together. And it may seem small at first, but it’s not at
all small. It grows. There’s nothing small about that garden."
Urban planning visionary Jane Jacobs, PBS reporter/author Ray Suarez,
environmentalist Paul Hawken, Urban Habitat co-founder Carl Anthony,
landscape architect/psychologist Karl Linn, and British scholar
David Crouch lend context and background as the garden story unfolds.
A Lot in Common
is Emmy award-winning producer/editor Rick
Bacigalupi’s first feature-length independent documentary.
The American Community Gardening Association has endorsed the project
and offers a gardening curriculum. Shot primarily on MiniDV the
program is available in 56:40 and 76:30 versions. Color and b/w.