The idea of The World in a Garden was seeded with a small thought that I (Tricia Sedgwick) had while travelling in Central America, 10 years ago, where I observed the cultural and environmental consequences of unsustainable development fueled by American influence. I would see compilations of imported plastic wrappers, bottles, bags and containers washed up on otherwise beautiful shores as well as scattered throughout the streets. As a young student I thought, what right do we have to sell them wasteful commercial products when they don’t have the infrastructure to rid of it? Forget about recycling – general waste removal is not an option for the majority of locals without the financial or educational resources to deal with the waste. The garbage generated is burned, thrown in rivers or scattered in the streets, which made me ask: Is the answer to malaria and water born disease really about pharmaceuticals or are we avoiding the work that would come with looking at the root cause, such as cleaning up contaminated and stagnant water sources? Clearly we are running from the responsibility of a mess we helped create or at least worsen.
As time went on, I became more discouraged about what I was observing and exceedingly disgusted with my excessive lifestyle back home, unconsciously focused on “more”, and material consumption. Perhaps, one of my most memorable epiphanies of my travels was trading in my $100 uncomfortable, name brand sandals to buy a pair of $1 flip flops that I wore day in and day out for 3 months, regardless of the outfit (I think my mom still has those flip flops).
Returning home, to beautiful Vancouver, from my 3 month tour was somewhat overwhelming, the trendy coffee shops looked so elaborate and my shoe collection…how did I find the time to wear all those shoes? And how did I manage for 3 months with only one large back pack when I had a large overfilled closet of clothes calling my name? I had lived simply for 3 months, with concrete floors, room temperature showers, no TV, no lattes and I was happy, rather joyful, actually.
My resentment for the western society in which I was born into and live in remained throughout my university studies until I discovered a place of harmony, where conscious consumerism exists. It is a harmony that stems from understanding that creating change with the tools and assets available in the western world is a valuable gift.
We can share our resources, our knowledge and we can help developing countries do it better then we have as we honor their heritage and their right to abundance and sustainable development. My western reality offers philanthropy based business models that utilizes money as an investment to empower others to build on who they are as a people and as individuals.
Alternatively, I found through my travels to Africa and Central America that the local people offer me a richness unrelated to money, a richness of culture, tradition and community. They offer me roots. These roots are the result of tradition, and they keep us grounded.
This idea, to work with communities on a cultural level, that honors where we come from and who we are, individually and as a whole, became my quest. I wanted to start a project that could bring it all together, without being the “westernized hypocrite” who advises the locals of developing countries and communities not to do what we have done all long. The solution is one that celebrates the earth while fostering the expansion of communities through sustainable business models that are built on who we are as human beings. And who we are depends on the existence of clean air, food and water.
I strongly believe and experience that we can build from the principle of sufficiency rather than the outdated and overrated model of consumption, the one that has brought us to the current place of economic and environmental crisis. It’s my vision to help the communities of developing countries to grow ethically, in alignment with and respect to mother earth.
And so, as a result of my travels, a new seed was planted and I started to brainstorm. I started asking what I was passionate about and how could I build a business based on who I was as an individual while utilizing the resources of my community? As a nutritionist and a lover of food, earth and community I came up with the concept of The World in a Garden. A garden that nourishes us on all levels, inviting culture, community, prosperity and food all into one space. As the garden grows, so do I and the intention is for all involved, including mother earth, to grow (sustainably) as well.