Lotus Johnson


On September 19th, Lotus wrote:

The Spring Ridge Commons has been leased/managed by the Fernwood Community Association, Lifecycles and the Fernwood NRG. It was formerly a gravel parking lot, it is now a green oasis, a growing and vibrant refuge for the neigbourhood, a food source for people and animals. It is a community resource that represents the green growing heart of the area, It is really precious.

On September 18th, Lotus wrote:

In my opinion the plants and trees at the Springridge Commons were thriving and being cared for effectively for food producing and permaculture, and the amount of growth and the vigour that the plants had really proves that point. I have numerous photos, some of which were taken just before the big “cleanup” showing the amount of food which was growing on the bushes and trees.
The problem wasn’t that the plants and bushes weren’t being cared for, it was that people could hide in the bushes and behind the trees. Growth isn’t tidy! and a similar argument is used by foresters who think that the Old Growth forest is too untidy and that nice tidy “cared for” rows of trees are better. Growth is vigorous and wild, growth is spontaneous and dense, healthy plants have healthy growth!

This may not fit into the idea of desirability for people who want the plants to grow in orderly rows, and who want to be able to see what is going on across the street…
It seems that the site could not be controlled by the neighbours of the Commons as they wanted, ie. there were street people and other people that they didn’t want to be there. I feel that this was a policing problem, not a issue related to the site not being cared for.

I have been taking pictures of the Commons for seven years , it is one of the most beautiful places in Fernwood: https://www.flickr.com/…/ngawangchod…/sets/72157607040062559

On August 20th, Lotus wrote:

Copy of a letter which I wrote to Lee Herrin from the Fernwood NRG:

I was reading the Victoria News today and came across this article:

It seems like the people involved are overjoyed to have a food resource which is accessible and useful, yet what happened when we had a food resource which was accessible and useful to residents of Fernwood? a small number of people decided that it was not useful to them and too useful to other members of our community. The presence of street people at the Commons was certainly a heated issue for some time, but did anyone ever talk to these people? When I talk to them I find that many of them are originally from Victoria, and some even from Fernwood. No matter where they came from however, they are our neighbours. They may have problems with substance abuse, they may be homeless, but they are just as much our neighbours as the people in the house next door (and at least some people in Fernwood may be only a few cheques away from homelessness). It appears to me that many homeless people have moved about half a block from the Commons to Kings Park. Will the neighbours decide to cut down the Oak trees next?

I am reminded of the incident in 1998 when Cliff Whitehead, Bed and Breakfast owner of a property that backed onto St. Anne’s Academy, cut down 26 trees (and was subsequently successfully sued by the Provincial Capital Commission for the replacement costs of the trees). I don’t know if you remember, street people were camping beneath the trees and he repeatedly called police and entreated with the PCC to remove the campers until he finally cut the trees down.

Also I wonder about this: I have looked at the block of Chambers facing the Commons and observed that several properties have high hedges and fences, I wonder if they would go into their neighbours yards and cut down their trees and hedges so they could make sure that no nefarious dealings were going on. I don’t think so. Since the Commons was their neighbours’ yard (as in the whole neighbourhood) they possibly could have been more responsible and proactive in tackling the issues at the Commons, instead they treated their neighbours’ property with contempt and aggression. I personally see it as an assault on one of our most valuable and most beautiful neighbourhood resources.

I have taken many pictures of the Commons over a period of years, some of which can be seen here:

It was a glorious place, home to many birds, butterflies and insects. It was a feast for both the eyes and senses. I have eaten many of the nutritious plants, in particular,the Goumi and Sea buckthorn berries. I have harvested the leaves to make healing teas. I have enjoyed the beauty and splendour of what was a neighbourhood refuge and haven where the scent of herbs and the songs of birds drowned out the tumult of the city. Now this temple of the spirit of the healing, this growing and vibrant heart of the neighbourhood has been desecrated and I am filled with sorrow and despair.

I truly hope that the Springridge Commons can be restored and maintained as a neighbourhood resource.

Lotus Johnson

On August 20th, Lotus added:

Just in case people don’t know what happened at the Commons: http://fernwoodnrg.ca/the-tragedy-of-the-commons/

On September 3rd, Lotus posted:

Response from Lee Herrin:

Hi Lotus,

Sorry it took me a while to respond. I was on vacation for the last two weeks of August.

Thanks for your thoughts. I was surprised myself at how far the neighbours went when they worked on the site back in July. However, to say the site has been desecrated is going too far, in my opinion. The large structural elements of the landscape are still in place, and now the important plants themselves are visible and getting an opportunity to grow instead of being choked by grass and weeds. Much of what has been cut back will regrow in time.

Ed is working there continuously and has a vision that may not be shared by all, but the reality is he is putting in a great deal of work on the site, which those who were supposedly maintaining the site were not doing at all.

There will be a public meeting at the Fernwood Community Centre in September (please see the Village Vibe for details). The purpose is to hear a broad range of opinion about the site and to come to a viable plan for the long term future of the site. I would invite you to come and express your views, and also to hear the views of the neighbours who live immediately adjacent to the site, and who are aware of what’s going on there at all times of the day and night. At this point, those I have spoken to are much happier with how the site is being used, as it is welcoming to young and old and a safe place for everyone, which it was definitely not in July.

Also, if you see me in the neighbourhood, please let’s have a chat about it.

Your photos are lovely, by the way. You really have captured some of the beauty of the site.



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