Veggie Tale for Real

“Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart.”
                                                                                                                                     2 Corinthians 4:1

Veggie Tales! Any other folks here with kids who loved Veggie Tales? Bob, the Tomato, Junior Asparagus (the only reason, I’m convinced, that my kids grew up loving asparagus), Larry the Cucumber, We still sing “Silly Songs from Larry” around our house. “Where is my hairbrush?”

And as a writer said, “It’s funny how a silly looking vegetable can teach such big lessons.”

These days it is real vegetables who are teaching me big lessons. Or reinforcing important truth in a new way. Veggie tales are part of my life in a new way.

As my cousin Glenn says, “We Erickson’s just like to schmooze.” Chat. Get out there, talk to folks. And so it is one Saturday noon I met Beverly.

She was at her usual Saturday spot in Five Points, Denver’s Historic Heart of the African American community. Sonny Lawson Park, on Welton, close to the light rail stop at 26th. And yes, I got her to talking.
And the talk went from the tragic and systematic racist dismantling of that neighborhood, once known as “Harlem West” for its regular claim on the talents of Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, and even Marian Anderson. The old community that gathered around such iconic and glue-like places as the Rossinian Hotel and Sadie’s has been scattered by ‘urban renewal’ and the black folk of those blocks are now scattered to the winds, and without homes at all.

Enter Beverly. And her veggie tales. And a simple invitation to you to join me on Saturday, August 15, for a “field trip” to the Farmer’s Market she will run at Sonny Lawson Park, from 10 – 2. Nothing official. Just an outing.

I feel the weight of racism on my heart and soul like never before (and that is saying something). These days feel like a kairos moment in our culture to finally look beyond policies and deep within our spirits and ask, as God has promised, to be transformed. That’s why I hang around Five Points. And get to know folks like Beverly.

Beverly Grant would have every reason to lose heart. She is trudging uphill with both arms full, burdened by the weight of not just hundreds of pounds of vegetables, but by the weight of bureaucracies that do not always cooperate with her work, a sometimes cynical and indifferent community around her (and with good reason; they have experienced so much disappointment and downright oppression), and the mundane but diabolical ‘powers that be,’ thwarting the really good work she’s doing.

Specifically, Mobetta Greens, the fresh food markets she’s established. I didn’t even know until this morning that she was the subject of a 5280 story in June!

Jesus fed 5000 with five loaves and two fish. Beverly is helping communities feed themselves and their neighbors with good veggies. And fighting back the racism that is behind the failure of some neighborhoods to get even so much as a grocery store in their midst. It is racism that does that. Assumptions. Prejudice. Policies.

So, this is my email: I’m going again to the Farmers’ Market on Saturday morning the 15th. And then taking another little tour of the neighborhood. Beverly is really excited about meeting you. Telling us about her work, her passion, her veggie tales. Nothing formal or official. Not a GGCC thing. It’s just me, inviting you on a field trip. We’ll settle the details when you let me know you’d like to come and I know who’s in. I’m certainly going to drive and can take four more. (I drive so it’s easier to cruise the neighborhood and see what all (ICK!) is going on.

It is by God’s mercy we are engaged in this mission – of dismantling racism – so we don’t lose heart. God has already transformed us by the renewing of our minds, making us “New creations: the old is passed away! Behold! The new is come.” What grace and release that is!

Email me, It’ll be fun to have a Veggie Tale of our own. And to God be the glory!

Jan Erickson-Pearson

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