Hapeville, GA Local Initiative

OUR TREE

PURPOSE
At this corner of the world, we live in a time which is impoverished when it comes to the availability of heartfelt, warm smiles and fresh, plump crops grown using sustainable practices. At Farming Bards, we believe that once we learn how to look into each other’s eyes, dance to the sound of music in each other’s hearts, and listen to the whispers of our lonely Earth who is gently aging, we can truly come together to make a difference. We, at Farming Bards, strive daily to make that difference by taking steps to create and leave behind a greener and happier niche on our neighborhood of the planet.

THE WHY STATEMENT
Like the planet sustains us, we, the Farming Bards, strive to sustain her, and each other. We believe that we can truly gather in responding to the needs of our Earth, once we have learnt to listen to our selves and each other’s. In a noisy world, where dings, blings, and honks drown gentle requests and magnanimous billboards contest for our attention during our waking hours, we sense that we have to train our eyes to grasp the needs of each other and our Earth. At this state, we have to listen hard to catch the sound of the footsteps of the lonesome, hungry catastrophe that is approaching. If we do not switch to sharing our lives with each other and our responsibility to create sustainable ways of growing our own food right NOW, the danger of being crushed by it looms large.

HOW WE WORK
In our organization, we design and direct Green Theatre that gives faces and voices to the urgent needs of our planet– such as growing our own food, engaging in organic farming practices, and eradicating the epidemic of loneliness. Our theatre program has been designed in a way that allows kids to engage in the whole production process with our guidance. Within our program, the little Farming Bards contribute towards writing the script, singing, dancing, and acting to their hearts’ content. Through our experience in musicals, we have learnt that this is the best way to teach kids how to sense the vibrant palette of emotions that we can feel, arouse, and share. This knowledge goes a long way in raising a generation that is empathetic and sensitive to both their human and natural surroundings.

Once kids have had their first shot on our Green Theatre stage at Farming Bards, we lead them towards applying their newfound senses and sensitivities to respond to the needs of our Earth. Our kids go on to the Backyard-Swap program where they help out in other families backyards, lending farmhands and hearts, tending to newborn plants in their gardens. At the end of a growing season, we enter the second cycle of our journey as Farming Bards with a harvest of fruits, vegetables, and flowers. We begin to get ready to create another theatre to share our crops, brilliant tales of conversations with our Earth and a renewed set of aspirations. It is this new aspiration that promises to sustain us as a growing team of evergreen Farming Bards for many, many years to come.

OUR ROOTS

Hapeville, Georgia is a small city just south of Atlanta. It was founded in 1891 by a group of local farming families, led by Dr. Samuel Hape, the city’s first Mayor. Since then, the city now has its own charming downtown area, a community park, and growing neighborhoods. Hapeville has a diverse set of active senior citizens, families, and young people, from all over the world. Hapeville’s government strongly encourages business and non-profit organizations to help the city make even more progress.

THE PHOTOSYNTHESIZERS

Shriradha Sengupta

Raised in the City of Joy named Kolkata in India, Shriradha came to the US to study Psychology at the graduate level. As she gradually settled in, she was shocked at how fruits and vegetables from the neighborhood grocery store tasted like filter-paper. She could never fathom the reason why regular folks like her were not growing their own food even though they had so much land around them. At the same time, she worried as she noticed that less and less people were keen on spending time with one another. It began to feel strange when she observed that warm smiles and glittery eyes were vanishing from around her very fast as years were passing by. Having pursued various performing arts since the tender age of 5, Shriradha quickly realized that theatre would be a great way to teach kids to listen and speak to one another, and learn to spread word about good, locally grown food. As she was toying with the idea of starting her own children’s theatre group, another idea struck her one summer afternoon. That was her moment! She decided to teach the same group of kids how to grow their own food—a life-skill she considers essential for tomorrow’s adults. Thus, on one fine afternoon over sweet tea, Farming Bards was born.

David Geigerman

David grew up in the South, and has a love for being outside and being onstage. With a background in Business Administration as well as Dramatic Arts, he loves to help people get to know each other and work together in teams to help environmental and humanitarian causes. In 2009, David took a trip to Uganda, Africa for a month to assist a non-profit with building their new maternity ward. The time spent without cell phones and with real, wonderful people convinced him of the importance and power of a strong community. After returning from Uganda, David has been constantly playing with new ideas to help his neighborhood develop into a community. Finally, last summer Farming Bards was initiated as he and his girlfriend, Shriradha, played around with ideas ranging from microfinance to organic farming and theatre. David is proud to be a Farming Bard because he wants to give this love of nature and zest for being with one another to everyone. He is excited and you should be too!