I remember being concerned about “homelessness” from a very young age when my family moved to the New York City area and I was confronted by the existence of “extreme” states of poverty. I was troubled by the notion that, in a “land of plenty”, people could still remain homeless, hungry, and without family, or jobs, or mental health care. I spent many years of my life trying to learn what I would need to know in order to do something about this.
I began studying anthropology at Baylor University in 1994 and this started me on a path of education that would equip me with the knowledge and skills needed to try and build an organization that could tackle the problems of homelessness and poverty in general. I began focusing on human patterns of subsistence, where people obtain their food, and more importantly, the knowledge they have in how to obtain food. This led to a profoundly deep interest in the ways that plants and people integrate with each other in society.
Over the course of my studies I began to understand that food can be just about anywhere one can find plants. It troubled me to see homeless folks standing on street corners holding signs that said, “homeless and hungry” while there might be dozens of native food sources growing all over the area around them. As a gardener myself that has grown numerous types of edible plants, nuts, and fruits, I began to see the importance of teaching people how to grow and harvest their own garden or wild foods. More to the point, the question became, how do I put this knowledge into the hands and minds of the people that really need it?
I would eventually start a business, Plant Fix: Botanical Solutions, that would act as a design and consultation “think tank” for all things botanically related. This provided a raw infrastructure for building a landscape service that also functioned as a work/training program for some of the formerly homeless residents of the Mobile Loaves and Fished “Community First” RV program. This service has been running for eight months now and we have had many bugs to work out but we have managed to adapt where needed and grow where necessary to expand the project.
In May, 2012, Path Landscapes was established with co-founder Andrew Walsh to take this “grand machine” to the next level. Path is a special kind of landscaping company, equipped to tackle the present and future landscaping demands of the greater Austin area in an environmentally sustainable way. Along the way, Path will continue the program of training those that have “gotten lost” or remain impoverished in Central Texas. This is my commitment to excellence, to compassion, and to finding a better way.