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'What would you do?' # 2 :)

Posted by ellenr z6 NJ (My Page) on
Sat, Feb 28, 09 at 6:53

I am a co-coordinator at a community garden which has been in existence some 20 years. I have gardened there for 7 yrs, been a co- for 2.
At the same time I became co-this new guy became the other co-.
This guy is in his 70's and obviously used to being in charge of things when he was employed.
Last year we had some problems between us which resulted in a shouting match and was quite unpleasant.
Basically bec. of him making unilateral decisions, and me trying to make him understand that the CO in co-coordinator meant that we were equal partners.

We got over the unpleasant feeling. Then. Now this year again I am faced with him wanting to do things which I disagree with. Now it's not that I am right and he is wrong, it is that he does not consult or ask for opinion, he just does it.

Eg last year he covered up a lot of our flowers in the common area, which is why I was so mad.
He expanded our garden from about 20 plots to about 30, by making plots where there didn't use to be any. Ie we had some grassy area. Now I feel it is very overcrowded, I expressed this last year, but he just goes ahead and digs.

Now he wants to add MORE plots.
What should I do?
Here are some things I have thot about-
1. e-mail the head of the gardens and ask him to talk to this guy, since I can't.
2. e-mail the guy.
3. Talk to the guy- he has a hearing aid, so conveniently he can speak better than he can hear.
4. Ask the other gardeners what they think. There are people who have been gardening for 18 yrs and I feel that they should have some input. This newcomer comes in and changes the nature of the garden without a "by your leave".
The other gardeners might not care either way, but at least they should have an opportunity to express themself.

What do you think?

My goal is to have a peaceful place to garden. I have a stressed life, and the garden is the only place I feel so good. At least until recently.

Maybe I should just ignore it, let him do what he wants.

Appreciate your thots,

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: 'What would you do?' # 2 :)

There would be nothig wrong in doing all of the above,writting him,you could explain kindly,why it is you have decided to e mail,because of his hearing problem.
Every one shound have a say about what is going on in the planting area,it would be nice if every one knew what was going on,does this mean every ones lot size will be smaller now,with new ones being added?
It is hard when there is more than one person managing things.

When i was in the master gardener program,we decided to do a veggie garden,and donate all the veggies to a senior center,not every one agreeded on what we would use for mulch,in between the rows,there was one lady who had a bigger voice than most,well,me.
She thought it was a great idea to use carpet,and she would even donate it,wellllllllllll,i thought the idea was a very bad idea,being it was a veggie garden,and the food would be going to seniors,( me thinking it bad because of all the chemicals in carpet,leaching out into the ground,to be sucked up by the precious veggies,to be eaten by our seniors )POISON X,
You can guess who won that one-Not Me!
So i just did not take part in that growing garden,poor seniors,i still feel bad,and i was not even part of it.

I guess you will know what to do,when the time comes.I hpe it workes out for you,we all need a place to dig dirt,and feel good about it.

RE: 'What would you do?' # 2 :)


Some things to consider:

This elderly man is coming from a much different life experience than we are. While he was learning how to live his life, he was probably experiencing the greater part of his society's belief system, one that taught things like "A woman's place is in the home." and "women don't need lots of formal education, they're just going to get married anyway". etc.

These may be the types of things he thinks of, when he sees you.... that, and he also might be thinking about how much more experience in general that he has over you. All this adds to his view of you, as being "less equal" than he is.

The really sad part of all of this, is that he may never come around, no matter what you say, or do. I'll bet an act of Congress couldn't help you win over the respect you clearly deserve. Some people just get so set in destructive thinking, nothing will ever change.

Chances are excellent that you will never be able to change his way of thinking, so the only way to deal with it is to change how you react to it, both internally (a man like this can drive you crazy!!) and in your behavior.

I would do one of two things, learn to work around him, or take a back seat until he's gone. Working around him, you tolerate the guy. Taking a back seat would mean allowing him to view you as an "assistant". It might be tough at first, but it might be the only way to really work together. That would probably be my choice if I seriously wanted to keep the peace and get along. You know the deal, kill him with kindness and "respect". He might be more willing to listen to you and compromise, if you allow him to think of you as being less than his equal... it fits better with his life-long pattern of thought.

What you can't do, is take it personally. You can't let it make you crazy and you can't allow him to belittle you in any way. You must remember it's him and not you!

RE: 'What would you do?' # 2 :)

If you really want to be bold and have documentation at the same time, you could email him and cc it to the head of the gardens. This way, he knows you are serious and the higher ups have a true picture of what is going on. I would state everything very carefully clearly, and concisely. You don't want to sound like you are complaining so I would word it so that you are describing the solution - not the problem. Bless you, we all know people like the one you are describing.

RE: 'What would you do?' # 2 :)

well very interesting - I got 3 different views, and they are all so thoughtful, I'm glad I decided to post.
Because this thing is taking up entirely too much of my thinking. It helps to have other opinions.

So I am very grateful for your thots and I will read them over later, tonite I'm off to have fun and feggit about this guy.
I'll let you know how it turns out.


RE: 'What would you do?' # 2 :)

  • Posted by bakemom z6 Central Ohio (My Page) on
    Sat, Feb 28, 09 at 19:51

uhhh. You put two different people in charge of a project and nothing good gets done. Isn't that conventional wisdom?

Go to the head.

RE: 'What would you do?' # 2 :)

Hmm, I like the emailing option. Although I would save a copy of the email as a draft. See what he says back, then if it is pertinent forward that to the head with your original email.
That way they get a sense of sides and a bit of the communication history. It also might give a better ideal of what you are dealing with.
He does email right? I don't know many ppl that age that do.

RE: 'What would you do?' # 2 :)

Ditto Bakemom. Go to the top, get their viewpoint and work from there.

RE: 'What would you do?' # 2 :)

Donn your ninja suit, and sprinkle grass seed in the new plots.

RE: 'What would you do?' # 2 :)

Hi all,
Wanted to let you know the latest. So the situation continued from the time I posted until now, with this man taking unilateral action.

Finally, this morning, I wrote to the head guy, I detailed all the things this guy did, and I asked him to intervene.
He probably won't - he probably doesn't want to get involved, but anyway, this was a last resort.

If he doesn't, then I stop being coordinator. It is most important that I have whatever peace I can have at the garden. I wish things could go back to being how they used to be before this guy came, but we know.. things move on and don't stay the same.

Thanks for listening!


RE: 'What would you do?' # 2 :)

  • Posted by dorisl 5 NW Chicago burbs (My Page) on
    Thu, Mar 19, 09 at 9:01

Hi Ellen!

Im late to the party here. I agree that if peace is your priority, you gotta get outta there.

If power were your priority, than you'd wanna fight it.


RE: 'What would you do?' # 2 :)


I just wanted to say I'm sorry things have been so difficult! I totally agree that once this became something that upset you regularly, it was time to consider throwing in the towel. I think a huge mistake was made in putting you two together, especially without outlining the expectations involved in there being co-coordinators. Just like in other jobs (I don't know if this is volunteer or paid, but it's still work) there should have been a trial period and an evaluation.

No need to keep upsetting yourself if you or the powers-that-should-be can't fix it. But, maybe they will come through. If not, either stay there as a plot-renter, or find another, more relaxing, place to garden.

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