The Last Leaf Gardener Gives Voice to the Garden
"The very old, they are miracles like the just born;
close to the end is precious like close to the beginning."
- Herb Gardner, I’m Not Rappaport
Gardens have been considered healing locations dating back to ancient times, but as we turn to more modern treatments, their therapeutic qualities have been overlooked. It is time we get back to basics, and I hope to encourage that movement through The Last Leaf Gardener Gives Voice to the Garden.
Whether I can inspire people, particularly the elderly, to garden or simply to open their minds to plants, gardens, and their own memories, I am confident that this project can enrich the lives of many, including greatly underserved populations such as those in assisted living centers.
About the Project
I feel in my heart that through The Last Leaf Gardener Gives Voice to the Garden videos I create, I can combine my passions and make a difference in the quality of the lives of the elderly, particularly those who may no longer have many loved ones around them.
Viewing my stories, especially in groups that would encourage discussion in conjunction with accompanying books (created by me) can take them back in their own history, open up memories, exercise their minds, and allow them to connect with others on a deeply spiritual level — all sparked by my narrator, the ephemeral Kiwi Vine, who made his debut appearance in “The Kiwi Speaks! Fifteen Minutes of Fame . . . Almost.” (Unlike other plants that undergo rigorous winterizing methods, The Kiwi Vine thrives year round in its natural state, making it an excellent narrator for the garden.)
With an imaginative combination of animation, music, voiceover, and photography, as well as charming storylines, my unique videos have a broad appeal, as evidenced by my growing following on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr and my blog, The Last Leaf Gardener. The videos are not only visually pleasing, but also offer unique insights into life in the garden and gardening.
I am also currently creating a series of books to accompany each video in this series, allowing users to engage in a truly interactive viewing experience.
Hi, I'm Patricia Youngquist, also known as The Last Leaf Gardener. I am an urban gardener and visual artist living in New York City. I’ve combined my passions and expertise in gardening, education, and art by creating narrative short films that literally give voice to the garden, allowing the 80+ things (herbs, salad greens, plants, shrubs, trees, flowers, ornamental grasses, succulents, and vines) that I grow in my rooftop garden to speak for themselves. Perhaps I am sensitive to the surroundings in my garden, because I have two medical conditions that limit some senses, but heighten others:I have been legally blind since birth AND I was born with Neurofibromatosis Type One. My last name, Youngquist, is Swedish, and it translates into the ability to survive under any condition. Maybe this is why neither condition has prevented me from living life to the fullest (as discussed in a radio interview on 1010 WINS which can be "heard" in the Media Gallery, of this campaign).
I also have worked for nine years as a volunteer in a local assisted living center, which has reinforced something I have known since childhood: too often, the elderly are forgotten whilst their emotional and cognitive well-being is ignored. But recently a nurse from a facility (where I recently visited an elderly friend who has early stages of Alzheimer's Disease) told me that residents respond well to images and videos; they help them recapture their memories, communicate with others, and quite simply feel more alive.
* * * * *
I have recently received troublesome prognosis regarding my already much comprised eyesight, something I was born with (as discussed in one of my initial posts here on The Last Leaf Gardeners Blogger Pages. Now it appears my much limited eyesight is taking a turn for the worse, and recently a friend and I were discussing how the birds (a lone cardinal and her entourage of mourning doves, house finches and sparrows) had impacted my life. I told him how these birds were helping me keep my sense of humor and how I plan to incorporate them into the books and movies that I set out to produce in my indiegogo project.
I also told my friend that I was quite concerned about how my visiting birds might be affected by the recent upheaval in my garden! What I did not know, until my friend told me, is that my visiting red house finches have already endured a big upheaval, and that they have only recently returned to the Eastern Seaboard after nearly being wiped out with an eye disease in 1997!
This disease caused “infected birds (to) have red, swollen, watery, or crusty eyes (and) in extreme cases the eyes (became) swollen shut or crusted over, and the birds (became) essentially blind. (When) the infected birds (died), it (was) usually not directly from the conjunctivitis, but rather from starvation, exposure, or predation as a result of not being able to see. Some infected birds (did) recover."
The reason that I am bringing this up, is that, upon my hearing of the red house finches' struggle to come back to the Eastern Seaboard, I have been motivated to consider bringing the challenges of visual "short comings" into some of my movie and book projects; but I would like to do it through the voice or voices of my red house finches!
I'm certain that my red house finches would be delighted by my finally addressing this "problem" in my indiegogo project, as, in addition to my mission of this project, I might inspire other visually challenged folks, or, better still, raise awareness about some of the unspoken needs of the visually challenged!
I normally don't dwell on my eye problems when it comes to my work, as I would prefer to be "recognized" for my content; and not on "the idiosyncrasies of being visually challenged, yet still pursuing endeavors such as photo-art," an endeavor "normally" associated with sharp eye-sight. But, having said that, I have not made my legal blindness and my low vision issues mutually exclusive from discussing the work I do. I have been interviewed on the radio to discuss how vision loss impacts my photo-art, and I have posted the interviews and both of these radio interviews have been included in a designated page of my website (Patricia Youngquist Photo-Art); and, I have also included them in the media gallery of my indiegogo Campaign. But still, the issues with my eyes and the challenges surrounding them tend to take a "back seat" in my discussing most of my endeavors.
However, in the past, I have donated my services and art work to others whose mission is to raise awareness surrounding vision loss, such as The Foundation Fighting Blindness, an organization to which I donated one of my black and white photographic prints as mentioned in passing on Blogger in a 2010 post.
Moreover, another organization, Art Beyond Sight, has featured one of my kaleidoscopic photographs on their "e" gallery; and they have given my indiegogo project a "plug" on their Facebook Page! And, I have been recognized for one of my prints, Jennifer and Felix (left) in a competition for America Printing House for the Blind.
So it seems that if I incorporate my vision issues in some of the projects I create, that I will in turn be helping other organizations whose mission is to raise awareness about visual loss!
And, besides, the month of October is set aside to raise awareness re vision loss issues, which is perhaps another indicator that I should come out of the closet about the impact of vision loss and not be worried what others will think!
Online/Social Media Presence
My current social media followers are predominantly between the ages of 35 and 55; my content, however, is designed to appeal to viewers of all ages, including children. While my blog focuses on urban gardening in NYC, professional and novice urban and rural gardeners across the United States and in foreign countries are tuning in and engaging with my blog and Facebook page.
I’d very much like to see my content featured on videos (with accompanying books) and used in senior facilities, garden clubs, and even schools where children could learn early on both the value of gardening and an appreciation for the elderly community.
Planned Video Topics
• Herbs (growing, drying, using for cooking)
• Peony and echinacea pods in cut flower arrangements
• Name tags and the importance of Latin botanical names
• The beauty of branches
• Urban garden lighting
• Training vines
• Urban hedges
What We Need & What You Get
Funding will be used for video editing and photographic services as well as tech support. Funding will also include supplemental equipment needed for HDL Video. Please keep in mind that my expenses are somewhat greater because of visual aids or special equipment that some of my projects require. I no longer work with pin-hole cameras, but I do use special equipment to accommodate for my visual loss, and I often I have to pay for services related to work I do because I simply need a good pair of eyes.
Regarding "what you get," please see the "Perks" section for full details.
If I do not reach my goal, funds will still be used toward the creation of The Last Leaf Gardener Gives Voice to the Garden videos, books, publicity campaigns for the project, etc.
Other Ways You Can Help
Spread the word! Please tell your friends and family about this project —and don’t forget social media!
Talk about gardening, or if you don’t know a lot, learn, and then go spread the word about its healing benefits to anyone who will listen.
Volunteer at a local assisted living center or nursing home. Go listen to the residents' stories, appreciate their life experience, show respect for all they have endured. Hug them.
For even more information on this campaign, please do check out the Media Gallery, which has photos, videos, and other documents that you may find helpful in making your decision on whether to help fund this project.
Team on This Campaign:
Sower of Seeds for Gardens & Humanity