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Bercat By Justin Heller

I was twenty years old when I came to the United States. I came here to have a more chill life. Every one is always blaming me but I aint do notin’. I was only twelve years when I was accused of crime, but I aint do notin’. I came to Cleveland to start all over. To have a better life. To have a life I always wanted. I lived in a mad small apartment, on the corner of Gibb Street. It was a disruptive town according to the Asian man across the way. Notin’ was the way I wanted it to go. I was livin’ in a bad town in a mad small apartment. I could only hope things could change; to have the life I always wanted. Then one day I didn’t have no money to pay my rent. I had to do crime, this time for real. I dressed up, grabbed my weapons, and was on my way across town. When I was walkin’ down town I noticed this mad chill garden that once was an old disgusting vacant lot. That moment I knew I dint have to do crime. From that moment I realized that I Bercat was a trustworthy citizen just like the gardeners were trustworthy to their plants. From that moment I knew I could change. To have the life I always wanted. I woke up, put my robe on, got my paper, and searched and searched and searched for job openings. After 2 weeks of searching I still couldn’t find no job. I got frustrated of


continuing this old boring cycle. I stared to give up on myself. I couldn’t take this no more, but 1 kept searchin’ and searchin’. Finally I found a job-wanted sign near the other end of town. Gibbs shop. That was the name of the store in which I worked at. Convent and could pay my monthly rent. Exactly what I was lookin’ for. Then one day it had come to me. What happened to my family and how were they doin’. Were they all right, do they think about me, were I had gone, and why did I leave? That very next day I had learned that my parents had been killed in a car crash a while back. I was devastated and didn’t want to go any were. Finally after a week of sobbing and moping I decided to go back to work. I had passed the garden again, but this time it had hit me harder. I realized from the first moment I need to plant corn in honor of my parents. It was mom specialty. We would have it every Thursday along with my dad’s famous Kentucky fried chicken. I would love havin’ dinners on Thursday nights. It was always the best day of the week. I would die for one more day of corn and fried chicken with my parents. Those were the days. I could only wish I could bring them back. This was my start to do so, but there was only one problem, where could I find corn seeds? Since today was Thursday and decided to look extra hard for the seeds. I walked all the way across town with no luck. Then Finally on the way back I spotted a garden shop. I entered and looked around for a while. Finally I had found what I was lookin’ for and purchased corn seeds, a shovel, some water, and fertilizer. Then I headed straight to the garden with nothing on my mind but corn and Kentucky fried chicken. Just like the olden days.


Weeks past as I continually checked on my plants after work. I would come to a new surprise every day. First roots, then stem, next stalk, finally corn. I was so excited that I had rushed my way back to my store to buy some Kentucky fried chicken. That next day I had harvested my corn and cooked the Kentucky fried chicken just like the olden days. I would continue this cycle just like my parents had. I don’t know what I would do with out this garden because when I noticed the garden I knew I had to change, now that I was a part I knew I had changed.


Kris By Matt Cunningham I just sat there day and night in the school without my family. It wasn’t as bad as it sounds but I was lonely. I’m Chris I’m fourteen-years-old. My father was in the Nigerian army and my mom used to work at the local food market. My dad was ranked high in the army, he was a general but that meant he was on the front lines. He was in a war against local warlords. I didn’t see my family a lot because I went to a boarding school away from all the violence. So did my other siblings but they were all to old or to young to be in the school. I’m a middle child. I played a lot of soccer and helped tend to my school garden In Nigeria we planted cabbage mostly and some other flowers. I mostly tended to the cabbage because it is my favorite food. In my first year of school I was in 3rd grade and that’s the first time I ate cabbage. It was the best thing I’ve ever tasted and it still is and I’m in 8th grade now. Most kids made fun of me but I didn’t care because I liked what I was doing and it passed time. I’m really good at soccer and I was always picked first. That was mostly why kids were friends with me. They weren’t that nice but it’s better than no friends. All they cared about were the girls and what they were going to do after school. I really didn’t fit in with them at all. There was one kid named Mike who liked gardening as much as I did. He was the only one I talked to and better yet we were roommates. On December 17 1979 I got called down to the principals office during science, I didn’t know why. They told me that my father had been killed in combat somewhere in


Kenya. At first I didn’t react I just stood there I was in shock. I also found out that me and my family was moving to Cleveland and the government was paying. We were moving into a four-bedroom apartment on Gibb Street we were supposed to move in January of 1980. Nothing mattered to me after my father died his death ripped our family apart. I took it the hardest but nobody was there to comfort me because they were packing and getting ready to move. In Cleveland the first thing I noticed when we got to Gibb Street was the garden our apartment was overlooking. It seemed like everybody was growing native plants from their old country. For the first month or so I just pulled up a chair and watched. Generally I watched some teenage boy fix up everybody’s garden. He seemed to be guarding Lateshas tomatoes with a pitchfork. My mom went shopping at the market down the street and one day she came home with cabbage seeds. She really wanted me to get out of the house and do new things and meet new people. The next day I went out early in the morning and planted the seeds so nobody would see me. I’m really not friends with anybody and I’m not really sure if any of the neighbors even know I’m living here. I’m also nervous witch isn’t helping me at all with socializing with the neighbors. I’m hoping my plants come up quickly so I can eat the cabbage. There is no cabbage in the market down the street and it’s too expensive in the other stores. This cabbage is going to be the best I ever tasted. I come out early every morning and water the cabbage and pull weeds and other things like that. There was one morning when somebody was waiting by my cabbage for me. His name is Sam he seems to know everything about planting and managing your garden. I was nervous at first he was just watching me do my daily routine then we started talking


about life and our back round. The next day he told me to come outside during the day and meet everybody. They all welcomed me with pleasure and happiness. After this day my view of Cleveland completely changed.


Eimile By Emily Moder In this town, if you’re a child you looked upon different. You’re looked as a helpless, innocent, sweet, kind loveable child. If you’re a teenager your assumed to be a criminal and everyone hates you. If you’re an adult your expected to just go on your way and not get in others business. Not me. I get into all’s business and I like to help them. Back home in Ireland, Ma always got into people’s business and helped, I guess I’m just like her in some ways. As the eldest child, I always had to be independent with the babies in the house, and I never liked it. So now I like to help others. Patrick my youngest brother was always helped upon an approaching issue. Then, Ma always overlooked James, poor James the middle child. I always helped him Ma did not. He nearly died six years ago at the age of 56, me I was 60. I’m 66 now and I miss him way too much he


always made me warm and happy. He died of what the doctors called a brain tumor. They said they could have saved him if he didn’t ignore the pounding aches he always had. He died in surgery. He left behind his two precious baby girls and a beautiful wife. When my family and I came here in the 1930s we had one intention, to have a better life. Back in Ireland there was a potato famine and my Pa was a potato farmer so he lost his farm and we had to give up all our land to pay for essential items. We heard that the United States was great. So we set out for the greatest place, well what we heard was great. So we all took classes to learn English. We started to make a living and we were living the high life, well to me we were living the life. In Ireland we had four horses and two wagons. We were some of the richest people, well in till the famine. I was walking to work one day, and I pass this one little vacant lot. I never thought much of it. It has been nearly one-year sense I broke my hip while working on a ladder. I was finally walking again so I missed a lot of things. I found this one little act of appreciation to others a big thing. I love gardening; but I am no longer allowed to bend a lot, and gardening requires a lot of bending. I then saw Mr. Myles and he had a barrel, and Sam had someone plant for him. So I was thinking I really would like to plant potatoes like back home. I decided I would get a 36 inch by 20 inch bucket that’s about two feet tall so I can sit and garden in a chair. I planted my potatoes and I felt life again after I broke my hip. I loved that garden on Gibb Street that the town came to in dire need of all races to communicate. One day I got a call from my brother Patrick who was now 59, he called to tell me that my mother had passed away at the age of 89, and she lived out in Maine with him. She had suffered from a stroke and the doctors couldn’t save her life. By the time they


got to the hospital it was already close to her death. They only had gotten home from a party to realize she was on the floor shaking. I could not believe that she had died, the pain I felt was unbearable I felt as I lost a best friend, and a sister. I was unable to keep my self under control I was in shock and in pain. I have to fly out to Maine and be with my brother. I have to call Nora to see if Mr. Myles would like to take care of my garden for a while till my husband, 3 children and I come back from Maine. This will be a painful experience.

After returning home, I had once again received a call from Patrick, but it was a shock. He had told me he was moving to Cleveland. He had now no purpose to live there. He was going to sell his house, which he made Ma move into with him. She did not want to leave Maine while she was alive. She had moved there when I was 30 and she did not like Cleveland anymore. She claimed of wanting to be able to live in peace not in pain of racism. I told Patrick about the potatoes I was planting and he was excited, as was I. The potatoes were growing great; they had fait, as did the town of Cleveland.


LaTundra By: Luke Longo

Cleveland has done me good. It’s my city of dreams, but to others it is a city of terror and crime. It’s much better than Shanghai, my native city. Living in the slums was a hard life for my family and I. The only thing that kept me going was the promise of my 16th birthday. My parents would send me to America for a better life. When that day came, I abandoned all I knew and came to America. I never got the chance to leave Cleveland. Now that I think about it, I would’ve never became what I am today. At first glance I hated Cleveland. Everyone in the city either looked like a criminal or a homeless person. I settled in at the cheapest place I could find, a run down project in the heart of the ghettos. I called my neighborhood the


“Gibb Street Ghettos” because there were lots of gangs and projects. The small Chinese market on the corner was the only place that I fit into. There were a lot of stores on Gibb Street, like the store owned by some Indian guy towards the Korean place on the intersection of Gibb Street and Madison Avenue. I was afraid to go into most of them. The people in the stores really scared me. They all seemed so different and strange. It also didn’t help that I didn’t know English. I was a fish out of water. I had one or two friend there, and they were about 40 years older than me. They were Yu Zhang and Mi Zhang, the owners of the Chinese store. Yu and Mi always worked very hard. They told me all about Gibb Street. They also taught me to speak English. English was impossible to learn. I went to their house, which was above the store, everyday until I could speak perfect English. Then life got harder. The store closed and I was out of a job. Nobody wanted to hire me, so I went for a more challenging career. If I wanted to be an actress I should’ve moved to New York or Hollywood, but Cleveland would have to do. It was pretty hard to find a good place to work at. Most of the places here were bars and clubs. In order to find a good job I had to go across town and go to the theater district. It was hard to get parts. I was always a minor character or a prop. My biggest part was in Avenue Q as Kate monster, the only major character I had in any play. Soon the roles were getting more select and more talent was coming into Cleveland. I was quickly running out of options. I had to abandon my dreams to be a movie star. I found myself at a crossroads again. I could keep my acting career, or I could sit around. I chose to sit around. I had no life anymore. Shanghai started to seem like a better


choice than America. The days passed and I grew tired. I stared at the wall all day, voices talking to me. When I turned around, no one was there. I was making myself insane. If I didn’t get out soon, I might’ve committed suicide. Then I found my savior. While walking through the street I noticed something different. The old lot was clean. I didn’t care really, but it lightened my mood. At least something in this dump was getting nicer, but I had other things to worry about. My rent was due soon and I didn’t have enough money. A week went by and I saw the lot again. Then it hit me like a speeding train. I could grow bok choy in the lot, where people were growing vegetables, and make a fortune. All the Chinese restaurants would buy my bok choy, it would be the cheapest one they could find and I would make a profit. I also had a name that made my business sound reliable, 美花儿. This means beautiful flower. It is pronounced Mei Huar. Now that I had a plan all I needed to do was find the materials. The hardest things to find were the seeds. I looked everywhere for seeds. The only places that sold them were Chinese stores, and the only one I knew of closed. I then went to every Asian store in Cleveland until I found a packet. After that it was easy. The watering can was easy to find and so was the gardening hoe. I labored in the garden for weeks on end until the bok choy was ready to sell. This opened up the window that for so long had been closed to me. I would go on American Idol and become an international star or a worldwide sensation. Everyone would know me. That day was the day that Mei Huar died, but from Mei Huar’s ashes came another being. That day I became LaTundra.


Pierre By Messiah Je m'appelle Pierre. Je suis français. I come from Paris. I was wealthy, but some one accused me of killing someone. I was innocent and they let me go. I decided to move to the U.S. with my wife. I learned how to speak English since I was four. I love America. It is fantastic. My house is beautiful and amazing. I always go to the deli and get une croissant and I always see a garden. It brings so many people together. I decided to grow tomatoes with my wife. I like their bright red and juice, but not any tomatoes I like fresh tomatoes. They were all nice and said what are you waiting so my wife and I got to work. We picked our spot and we started we planted our seeds. We got water and we watered them. People were laughing and smiling in the garden. It brought us all together. A few days and I saw my tomato’s grow up. Not the fruit just the stem. I saw the bright green it was amazing. I watered the plants and then I sat their I went home and my wife was at the store, so she was gone. I saw the children playing then I got a phone


call. The day went down and so did my spirit. My wife was stabbed to death. I was crying so hard. They locked up the guy. Je dĂŠteste le type qui a tuĂŠ ma femme. I did not talk to any one and I was rude for the next four days.


Joe By Luke Shin

I was taking the long way home. I tried to clear the image out of my head when my teacher yelled at me. Said I didn’t show any effort in school. This was not what I imagined when I moved here, to the “land of opportunity”. I was happy living my life in Africa, when my parents finally racked up enough money and decided that we’d be better off in the US. Now I’m stuck here and I have to figure out how to make the “best” of it. Not working out too well for me. Anyway, on the way home, I saw a bunch of people in that junk lot that was cleaned of its junk a couple days before by these guys that looked like they were from prison. It’s


funny how they’re still alive. I took a closer look, half out of curiosity and half ‘cuz that was the way home. I looked past a man who was bent over on the ground and I saw the craziest things. I saw tomatoes growing bright red and strong, lima beans wincing out of the ground, and even peppers bursting out from the soil. I was amazed. Back in Africa, I planted some vegetables that we eventually cooked and ate. It was more than just work to me. It was a hobby. I did it every day just for the fun of it and eventually, my family started to go to the market less and less. We even sold a couple. I decided that I wanted to plant something too. I asked a man who looked like he had some authority and I asked him how much it was for a quarter acre. He told me it was free! I thought he was lying and went to three other people to see if he was telling the truth. He was. It was amazing to me but I didn’t want to push it so I took a modest sized garden. I ran home and got the sunflower seeds that I always wanted to plant. I couldn’t plant them in Africa ‘cuz they would dry up in the heat. I planted them around my garden and watered them ‘til they had a deep shade of brown. I visited the garden everyday to check how my sunflowers were growing. The first week was all right, though I thought it would grow more. After the second week, you could actually see the stem of the sunflowers. After you could see the leaves, you could see bite marks on the leaves. Small bite marks. I thought about what to do. If I didn’t do anything, other people could have their plants damaged too. I left it alone to see if it was a one-time thing at first. Big mistake. The next day, I saw that one of the sunflowers was missing. I was mad. That day, I went to the store and bought a bunch of mousetraps. I bought a bunch ‘cuz like I thought, others were affected by whatever this thing was. I put cheese on each one and left them


only on the ground of my garden since it was night and I couldn’t ask anybody permission to put the trap in theirs. The next morning, I ran to the garden, expecting to see a rat massacre. I was wrong. The traps weren’t even sprung. I checked the traps over and over again and all I saw were a couple of bugs stuck to the melted cheese. Yuck! I thought of what to try next but I couldn’t. How could I catch something if I didn’t even know what it was? Then it hit me, and I laughed. It was the bugs eating the plants. They were stuck on the cheese because they were trying to swarm it. They didn’t spring the traps either ‘cuz they were so small. That didn’t solve my problem though ‘cuz I didn’t know how to get rid of the bugs. If I use pesticide, it might not be good for the plants in the garden, since I planned to help the other people in the garden too. It might also cause harm to the other people, and I didn’t want an angry mob after me or anything. I figured maybe I should stick to the original way, planting cheese on the ground. Still, that wouldn’t catch all the bugs. After countless hours of thinking, I decided what I wanted to do. I found out that insects like spiders and ladybugs help to get rid of the pests. I also found that there were a whole lot of plants that attracted spiders and ladybugs. I borrowed some money from my mom, who was glad to see me actually doing something productive for just about the first time in America. I bought a couple of tansies and perennials. I asked other people in the garden if I could plant them in their gardens and they usually accepted. I spread them out so that I wouldn’t have to spend too much money on the plants. There weren’t enough plants to go ‘round but I got lucky ‘cuz people followed my lead and bought some of the plants I bought for their garden. It was fun to watch people plant their plants. I felt like I started a revolution. What was also interesting was that one of the gardens that planted the plants I


planted was my teacher’s. She walked over to me and smiled as she talked about how this was the effort she wanted me to show in school. I think that’s supposed to be a compliment but I wasn’t exactly the happiest person ‘round. That just meant that I spent all my time buying plants and all just to raise the bar for myself. That was just great. Still, I had a sense of accomplishment so whatever, maybe showing effort isn’t that bad.


Kenesha By Melissa Achenbaum I’m from New York, Harlem to be exact. People are always expectin’ me to be a bad kid but I aint. I don’t do drugs or none of that stuff. My dad was gone when I was jus a lil’ girl. He left one day and left my mom with all of us kids. Everyday since then has been tough. Some big guys been teasin’ on me because of an incident last year. My brother was walkin’ home from school not doin’ nothin’ to nobody. They grabbed my brother and beat him to death. My brother called me but there was nothin’ I coulda done. He was gone and I been blamin’ myself since. My other siblings was taking it hard. I have 6 siblings and all of them are young. He was the oldest guy in the family, he was like a father to them all. I had to take his spot but they never looked at me like they did at him. I never got no respect and I couldn’t wait to leave. I couldn’t even have an education because I was busy taking care of those darn kids. Maybe everyone would realize how much good I did them. When I wasn’t with them kids, I was busy working at a t-shirt store around the


block. My mama didn’t have it easy. But she wasn’t around much, and it was tough on us kids. I was just 16 when I made my move far away from my family. I knew it wouldn’t be easy but at least now I only had to take care of myself. My family was upset more then I was expectin’ them to be. It was kind of hard to see them cute faces all upset but I knew it was the best thing for me. I took a train all the way from Harlem to Cleveland. It took a while because there was no train that went straight to Cleveland. I had nothin’ but a few hundred dollars been savin’ up. I finally arrived at Cleveland. I wound up on Gibb street, it seemed like a pretty quite neighborhood. I hadn’t thought before I moved about my livin’ situation. I saw this vibrant garden I figured it was the best I was gonna get. There was another boy and he waved me on to come over. Looked like he had been here for a while now. He opened up this sleepin’ bag and told me I could use it. Not nobody was like that in New York. We talked a while he was nice his name was Lance. He wasn’t sleepin’ there tho’ he just planted his plants in that garden. The next mornin’ I woke up early I was missin’ them lil kids wonderin’ what they were doin’. But I already moved and I knew I couldn’t turn back. I checked out the neighborhood and I went in to a few places and noone was hirin’. I was worryin’ what am I suppose’ to do without no job. I went back to the garden all upset. How stupid was I to leave movin’ far away expectin to be able to live on my own. Then a guy came up to me gave me a smile. He asked me question and I explained my situation. He gave me packets of seeds and walked away. I was no farm girl I grew up in the city with nothin’ but people, buildings, and streets. I put the seeds in my pocket and sat where I slept last night. I cried and cried till I could cry no more. I made


my decision and I decided I had to go back to New York. As I was about to leave I see all these people different races and everything all happy together plantin’ these seeds. These plants are beautiful and each person is plantin’ them for there own reasons. I decided maybe I could stay just a few more days and plant these seeds that guy gave me. I planted my seeds and waited just about one week. I lost hope and was on my way out when Lance starts screamin’ my name. I turn around and he points to my tomato I planted. It was startin’ to grow. I had the whole garden around my little tomato. Some guy offered to buy it off me cause he got a store round the block. He told me I could get some good money with those tomatoes. That was the happiest I have ever been in Cleveland. But I wasn’t sure if I would be able to stay casue in the winter it is gonna be cold and I’m gonna have no job. I had a tough decision and decided to pack all I had. Then the guy that offered to buy them tomatoes off me stopped me. He asked me where I was going I explained that I won’t have enough money to afford an apartment with no job in the winter. He said “little girl are you crazy going back to that dangerous city with skills like yours, I like to see you around here. I would love for you to work with me in my shop.” That was one nice guy and I haven’t met many people like him. He saw my face and asked whats wrong. I explained to him that right now I’m broke and won’t be able to afford an apartment for a while now. He told me he had an extra bed so until I got the money I could stay with him. He was truly a really good guy. I wasn’t plannin’ on slackin’ off I jus cause I got me an apartment that I wasn’t payin’ for. I worked hard and I made money pretty quick. Winter came and the whole community seemed as if everyone disappeared. I counted up all my money and I had


enough to buy myself an apartment. Once spring came I looked out my window and happiness arose. I saw everyone startin’ up there gardens. But what really made me happy was seein’ that boy Lance givin’ someone that sleepin’ bag.


Courtney By A few weeks ago I heard something that made me cry. My best friend told me that she didn’t want to be friends anymore. When those words came out of her mouth I didn’t know what to do. It was like my whole world was just falling apart. I couldn’t believe that those words would ever leave her mouth. I looked at her and then walked away crying. That night I just laid in bed, just thinking to myself, why me? It’s always me; it could never be someone else. Now I’m not going to have any friends. I mean I have other friends but I totally blocked them all of when I met Hallie, my x best friend. I went to school the next day. Couldn’t talk to anyone. I was way to depressed, upset and but mostly hurt and surprised. It was so weird and awkward when I saw Hallie in the hall. She would just give me dirty looks. I would try to smile at her but that wasn’t happening. My brain was telling me to smile but my mouth refused to move. 3 days later for some reason Hallie wasn’t in school. I wondered why. When I got home from school my mother said that we needed to talk. I sat down on the couch in the living room wondering what this was about. My mother said, “We need to talk about Hallie.” I said to her, “Mom she’s the one who is being mean and told me that…” but


then my mother cut me off. She said, “Honey what are you talking about.” My mother paused for a second, looked at me and a tear came to her eye. “Courtney honey, Hallie died today in a car accident.” I couldn’t believe it. I wanted to speak but no words would come out. I ran up to my room slammed the door and started to cry. I started to blame myself for everything. If me and Hallie were still friends she would have walked with me to school instead of going in the car. I can’t believe this is happening to me. ALWAYS ME NO ONE ELSE!!! For the next 5 hours I laid in bed crying and crying and just thinking about all the good and bad memories of me and Hallie. But the one that hurt me the most was that Hallie left this world not wanting to be friends with me. The next day I went to Hallies funeral. I wanted to make a speech but I just couldn’t. After the funeral my mother, my father, my brother and I went out to lunch. We walked to the restaurant. It was a nice spring day today in London. At lunch my father said, “We had to talk about a serious matter. Guys were moving” said my father. “Where?” my brother asked. “To Cleveland,” said my mother. “WHAT,” I said. “Yes were moving to Cleveland because, 1. I found a job there and 2. We thought it would be better for the family,” said my father. “Well when are we moving?” I asked. “Tomorrow morning actually,” said my mother.


Usually when people hear they are moving they are either mad or happy. But me I had mixed feelings. I was happy that everywhere I went wasn’t going to remind me of Hallie. Also moving meant I could start new. But then there was a down side. I mean I am a 7th grade girl. It’s hard to move at an age like mine. And another thing was also some of the good memories of Hallie would be left behind here in London. Today was the day I was moving to Cleveland. Everything was packed but I wasn’t ready to go yet. I told my mother that I would be right back and needed to go on a little walk. On my walk I knew exactly where I was going. I was going to Hallie’s house. I just needed to see it one last time. Finally I arrived at her house. I stood there and tears starting running down my face. I couldn’t believe she was gone. I went and rang the doorbell. Alice, Hallie’s mom answered the door her face had so many scars on it, her arm was in a sling and one of her legs was broken. She then welcomed me in. She told me I could go upstairs to Hallie’s room and take anything I wanted to remember her by. I walked upstairs to Hallie’s room. Hallie’s roomed smelled just like her, sweet and nice. I looked around. Everywhere I looked there was pictures of Hallie and I. I took a seat on her bed and there on the night table was our friendship bracelet. I couldn’t resist I started to cry non-stop hysterically. It was almost time to go when I realized a little purple thing hanging out of her closet. It was the dress I wanted so badly. I decided to take it, ran out the door and back to my house. The car was there and it was time to go. I got in the car and as it started to drive away I just looked out the back window and saw my house until it was not


visible anymore. Finally I arrived at the airport. The plane ride was so long. After coming out of the airport we took a bus to our house. Our new house looked like Snow White’s little cottage. I went upstairs and got into my new bed. Nice and warm. And a thought popped into my head. Oh my gosh I have to go to a new school tomorrow. What am I going to do! I just got home from my first day of school. If you ask me how it was I would say terrible. I mean what could I expect. I am the new girl. It was bad I made no friends. But there was something very interesting in my day. When I was walking home from school I saw a garden on Gibb Street. It looked kind of nice. I think I will go there someday. Of course today at the school they have a little dance event going on. My mother thought it would be good if I went so I could make some friends. BUT I HAVE NOTHING TO WEAR!!! I started looking through my suitcase just as I saw the purple dress. Hallie’s dress. I took it out and tried it on. It looked stunning on me. But it did remind me of Hallie. It was time to go to the dance. I was a little late but it doesn’t really matter. When I walked in everyone turned around and looked at me. Was there something on my face or something? But then I realized everyone was looking at me in a good way not a bad way. I think that night every boy came up to me and asked for my name. The second day of school was amazing!! Everyone new me. It was great. Today was the second day I passed the garden. I decided to go check it out. It was so big, peaceful and colorful. I loved it. Tomorrow I am so coming her to start my


own little garden. I walked out of the garden and stopped. I saw 2 best friends walking home from school. It reminded me of Hallie and I. I miss her a lot. But she sure doesn’t miss me. I mean when she left this world she did not want to be friends. That hurts a lot. This was the first time I would let myself into my new house. I got the mail and went inside. My brother was still in school. And my mom and dad were still at work. I was just about to go upstairs until I saw a letter for me. But wait I never get mail. There was 2 pieces of paper. I opened one it said… Dear Courtney, They found this in Hallies pocket. I guess Hallie was going to mail this to you. So I thought u should have it. Love Alice(Hallies Mom) Then I opened the second letter. The letter was from Hallie. I went up to my room, sat on my bed and started to read the letter…. Dear Courtney,

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Hi. For these past few days things haven’t been right. I tried to live without you but I just cant. Friends go through ups and downs and that’s what is happening to our friendship. I hope everything is okay in your life without me, but im not having fun without you. You’re my best friend and I love you so much. We’ve been through so much! From boys to going shopping we did it all together. And we have to live the rest of our lives together. We have to live our dream and have kids together and grow old together and be best friend forever.


LEGITAMITLY FOREVER!! People thought we were inseparable and they are right. We cant live without each other! I don’t know what I was thinking when I said that I didn’t want to be friends. But I really wish would could be best friends again. I love you so much. Write me back or tell me in school. I got to go my mom is waiting for me in the car. I cant live without you. The last thing I want is for us not to be friends anymore. And if you don’t want to be best friends we have to have a proper goodbye!! You can’t just leave and I wont leave you, I promise. Love always, Hallie

I put the letter down. Hallie wrote the letter the day she died. She did want to be friends with me when she left this world. Tears came to my eyes and they started to pour out. The letter made me so happy. She did want to be friends. But then there was a down side. Hallie broke her promise. She said she would never leave without saying goodbye. But she did. I wish I got the letter sooner. But I can’t do anything about that. I had to find a way to show Hallie that I do want to still be best friends with her. I knew exactly what I was going to do. I ran all the way to Maple Avenue. There was a little market there. I ran inside and bought some watermelon seeds. They were Hallies favorite fruit. After I bought the seeds I ran down to Gibb Street. I went into the garden. Found a spot for my own little garden and started digging. I thought that if I plant these watermelons Hallie might see them from up there. I will make sure she sees them. It’s been 1 week since I planted to watermelons. I went today after school to go check on them. When I got to my garden I smiled. The watermelons were


done growing. They were perfect. They were as big and as bright as Hallie’s smile. Just as I went to pick one of them up something magical happened. The sky got so much brighter but then started to rain. But it wasn’t just rain it was Hallie’s tears. I started to cry to but this time not because I was sad but because I was happy. From that day on I went to the garden everyday after school. The garden was one of the only things that connected Hallie and I. It was the perfect thing to keep our promise BEST FRIENDS FOREVER!!


Cynthia By: Lexi Tobin I just moved from Argentina to Cleveland. I now live with 5 other people. My mom. My dad. My brother. My sister and my grandfather. My grandfather has lived with us since I was 5. I felt like it took long to get used to this new environment in Gibb Street. It was hard making friends and adapt to all of the new surroundings. Gibb Street was a scary, violent, uncomfortable and unsafe. It was hard for me to go to bed at night. It was hard for me to go outside during the days. And it was mostly hard for me, to go to school from Monday to Friday. The first few days when I got their, I was either bullied, yelled at by a teacher, or got made fun of. I didn’t like Gibb Street as much as I thought I would. I explained this to my family, but they felt the same way. My sister had just gotten tripped in the hallways yesterday and had a bruises all over her legs. We couldn’t move again because we couldn’t afford anything else. That’s why we moved here.

I truthfully

only regretted moving here for one reason, my grandfather.I heard terrible news when I came home from school one day. My mother said “He was in the car driving and when the light turned green, he drove quickly and had a heart attack. Many cars crashed. Your grandfather had just passed away. And the other 3 were injured.” The rest of the night, it was me. Alone. Crying. Hysterical. Couldn’t stop. The next day, I decided to go around the town and look for a good spot to start a garden. While I was looking for a spot I saw a community garden. People told me it was called the vacant lot. So I started my planting there. I planted cucumbers, tomatoes, and corn. This made me feel very close to my


grandfather. Almost like I was doing something that made him happy, although he was not there to see me plant it. But, I planted this because while I was going to bed last night. I remembered one of the best memories I had with my grandfather. It was my when I was 4 and him when he was 49. Back in Argentina we planted, cucumbers, tomatoes, and corn. We always walked to our location of the cucumbers, tomatoes, and corn. That day, they were done growing, we decided to sell them and take the money and give it to the Cancer Fundation in honor of my grandmother and his wife. Her name was Rose. She died from cancer when she was 29. I never got to meet her but I knew she was the best thing that has ever happened to my grandfather. So I knew planting these vegetables would be a good dead that would make my grandfather happy if he were here to see it. I couldn’t stop crying until three days later. That’s when I told myself I had to stay strong. So now it was me, my sister, my mother and my father. Everyone else in my family was devastated. The funeral was two days later. My mom, named Sara, organized it. It was his birthday the day of his funeral. Although it was upsetting to sit through, I felt like I could talk to him in my mind and say all I could and wanted to before he passed away. I wanted to tell him that I planted all of those vegetables and sold them, then used the money for the Cancer Fund. I wanted to tell him that I missed him a lot. I wanted to tell him that he was my hero. I wanted to tell him that I was sorry this ever happened. And most importantly, I wanted to tell him that I loved him and thank you for being my best friend.


Mathew Ryan Delouya

I never had many friends. I considered myself a loser. You could say I have low selfEsteem, but I’m just stating the facts. In school I get


bullied. I am afraid to go to school Every day because I get bullied so much. The girl of my dreams, Brandon, doesn’t know I Exist. I don’t blame her. I am a short, orange haired, freckled kid with pale skin. No girl Wants that. Anyway, as I was doing the dishes one evening, I heard a noise. It sounded Like it was coming from the upstairs apartment. That was where Mr. and Mrs. Brown Lived. I wondered what the noise could possibly be. The browns were very calm and Peaceful. I never heard a noise come from their room before. The browns were my only Real friends in this town. I don’t have anyone to talk to in school, and my mom is never Home. My father passed away when I was six months, so I never got to meet him. The Browns were the only ones who helped me out. They were two African Americans that Cared more about helping the town then they cared about themselves. They drove me Home from school during my first four years of elementary school, they have been baking Me birthday cakes ever since I was three, and last year Mrs. Brown filled in for my mom During the seventh grade parent career day. They were everything to me. So, when I Heard them yelling up there, I got real nervous. I heard Mr. Brown screaming about how Worthless Mrs. Brown is. Mrs. Brown was crying; she sounded like a mess. I ran out my Apartment door without hesitation. I ran up one flight of stairs to floor five. I ran right to The outside of there door and knocked. I heard Mr. Brown call back “GO AWAY! NOTHINGS GOING ON!” I reached my hand under their mat and got the spare key that They told me about. They said if I ever needed them, I have permission to use it. I opened The door to their room. “What is going on in here Mr. bro…?” I froze. The first thing I saw


was Mr. brown standing with a shot gun in his hand. Blood filled the room, all over the floor and the walls. Then I looked down and saw Mrs. Brown’s still body lying on the ground. Two gun shots right in her head and her chest. After the funeral, I decided to take a walk. whenever i was confused about life, I would go for a walk. I decided to just go home, after a while. I took a new path home, though. A path I wasn’t completely familiar with. I was hoping I would pass by someone or something that could help me take my mind off things. I picked my head up and noticed a lot that looked beautiful. I walked inside and noticed that almost everyone in the town was here. Everyone was planting a garden. An idea popped up in my head. The next day, I got up out of bed, had some breakfast, took a green box of my counter, and headed outside. I entered the lot and found a nice empty space. I opened the green box and found two large packets of seeds. I opened one and poured the seeds into my hand. I made a hole in the ground and gently placed each seed into the ground. I covered my hole and walked away. As I exited the garden, i slowly stopped. I turned around and walked right back the my seeds. I ripped off a side of my box and took out a blue marker. I wrote on the box, “In Memory Of Leona Brown”. I hung the box up on the wall next to my soon to be beautiful garden.


Rebecca By: Casey Greenbaum

“UCH! Why won’t you accept me for who I am? This is me, why can’t you accept that?” My parents glared at me like I had ten heads. “What are you talking about Rebecca?” my mom said. “I don’t want this! You have to realize that! Everything is not always about you! I can’t deal with this anymore! And..My Name is BECKY.” I walked upstairs and started to pack. Four short months ago, I took all of my belongings, including my whole wardrobe (8 shirts and two pairs of pants), a private collection of shells that I collected every time I went to the beach (It took 7 hours to get to a beach, so I barely EVER went.), and the money I made throughout my life, $19. My own family couldn’t accept I was a girly girl, and I did not want to continue the family business raising the farm, and being a farmer.


They were very disappointed in me. I decided to move because there was no way I could fix who I am. My first day in the big city was hard. I had nowhere to go, nothing to eat, and only nineteen dollars. I decided to look for a job before I start my life over. I looked in the newspaper, which was not normal for me, and looked in the jobs section. There was a job in the fashion building! I always thought this job would be fun, an assistant for the main guy!! I called the number and they said I could come in for an interview the next morning at 10:00 am. I took the train to get to the city, and got off at Gibbs Street. I started walking down Gibbs Street. Dry cleaners on the left, apartment buildings on each side, food mart on the right, nail place on the right, hair salon on the left. I liked this place already. The only place I wasn’t sure about was this lot place in the distance. I approached it a few minutes later with about thirty people around me. Some were planting, some were observing. All the people in the neighborhood were brought together by this garden/ lot. From tomatoes to cucumbers to peas to carrots to squash to strawberries, everywhere I turned, I saw something new. It was amazing. I wanted to plant there. There was a spot where I could plant next to this guy who was growing beefsteak tomatoes. I wanted to grow strawberries. They were my favorite fruit and every time I ate them I felt refreshed. I can’t start planting until I start working. In the garden, there was a really nice girl named Maricella. She was a pregnant teenager. We started to talk and had a lot in common. She told me I could stay at her place for the night. We went to her house and I fell asleep ready for the big day ahead of me. The next morning I woke up at 9:30. I thanked Maricella and flew into a taxi to get to the interview. I was ready. I got out of the taxi and walked into the fashion


building. The lady who interviewed me was very nice and asked me easy questions about me that I felt comfortable answering. At the end, she politely said thank you and told me she’d call me to tell me if I got the job in the next week. I got a taxi to take me to the garden and Maricella was there. She told me I could stay at her place until I found a job and an apartment. The following morning, Maricella and I went to the food market to buy strawberry seeds. We went to the garden/lot. I started to plant next to that guy planting beefsteak tomatoes. He introduced himself. His name was Curtis. He was a nice guy. I planted the seeds in 15 minutes and went back to Maricella’s house. We talked about our lives and got to know each other a little better. Everyday, I watered and took care of my strawberries and they started to grow. The following Monday night, I got a phone call…


Rico By: Kai Nero-Clark I never liked it in Mexico. When we moved to America, I thought that I would be able to live a better life. I knew I was wrong when my mom died. She told me to stay strong and help to watch my siblings along with my father. After that everything fell apart. Dad found a job for minimum wage. And I had to take the others to school and try to get their my self on time or else I got detention, for the 15th time this year. My dad couldn’t change hours if he wanted to feed us and keep us alive so I got my own job. Then everything was going sorta good. Well I was getting yelled at again for being late. But not for long. I planned on going somewhere else. Like New York City, or somewhere like Philadelphia the city of brotherly love. But for now I was holdin back from jacking my teacher up next time he yells at me. I cant sleep at night knowing that im gonna leave my dad to watch the others. But he has his girlfriend Elliot who he leaves with every night for me to watch every night. To feed, to bathe, and put to bed. While he comes home and makes me do even more


chores for him. I know that he needs my help since his friend cant help him with everything he need help with. But I still cant stay here in stupid Cleveland when I know there is something better waiting for me out there. Something made just for me. So Im just gonna wait for this job of mine to get me enough money to get out of this dump. I just need to take it for a few more months. Or if I can get the job at the new store I could be gone in a month and two weeks. I just don’t feel totally good about leaving my family here in such a dump. I wonder to myself if it’s the right thing to do and how my mom would think im acting to the ones I love. But my mind is set. I gotta see what the world has for me outside of Cleveland. I just cant stay here. I was walking to work and noticed a garden. The last time I walked past here I saw a Vietnamese girl planting stuff behind a refrigerator surrounded by filth and trash. Now all I saw was people planting all different kinds of plants. Some women said I looked sick and gave me a plant called golden rod. I said thank and kept walking Now I saw my cousin Maricella here planting with 3 other pregnant women. I went into the garden and saw my cuz Maricella. She was with 3 other pregnant women. She told me she couldn’t wait to have a baby. Now I knew that women was right when I heard that. Last time I saw her she wanted the baby to die. Now she couldn’t wait for the baby to come in a few months. I just talked for a minute and bolted out of that crazy garden! But I knew something was different in there then anything else in this neighborhood. So I went to the market and called in sick, and bought some seeds of cucumber. They were my mom’s favorite. She had them with salad and added it to other dishes she cooked. So I went back to the garden and found a nice spot away from the others. But when I looked up after planting I saw a teenage boy. He looked familiar. He told me his name


was Royce and then it hit me. Royce went to my school! He wasn’t comin for a few days so we checked his house to see if he’s sick. But his dad wouldn’t tell us where he was. I was shocked to see him here. But I continued to talk to him and plant my cucumbers. Well I planted my seeds. But Im leavin now. I have enough money to go on my own and see the world. Im hoping to room with an old friend who has his own house. I called him and he said It would be awesome if I came to live with him. So I left my family a note and went off into the night. I boarded a train, all the way to Philadelphia. When I arrived my friend seemed really nervous. I asked him why and he said some bully was after him from his school. I told him “Well I think two can beat one bully.” So we went outside for him. When he came he brought two other kids. But I knocked one out with a uppercut to the jaw and the rest was easy. But Mike was caught and was takin a heck of a beatin and I had to step in. He knocked me away and forgot that I was even there. So I charged him and I think I broke his rib. But he only ran away. Mike thanked me and we were cool for a week. But then Friday, the cops were looking for me for one reason. The kid was in the hospital and was getting surgery on his heart. It turns out I did break a rib. But it punctured his heart. I was being arrested but If there was one thing I know, I was getting out of there! I ran to the train station and headed home. And when I got back I saw my cucumbers. I saw written in the dirt “Thank You.”


By Brandon Friedman

I just moved here with my family. I don't know many people here. I am pretty lonely and barely hear the phone ring. The only person I know is my neighbor and that is because it my Grandma Bell. My papa Tom died in a car accident. I almost live by myself. My parents are always at work. I moved into the house next door to my grandma in case anything happened while she was at work, like getting sick or something. My family just moved into this town. I walk home from school everyday. Yesterday I saw this appealing garden on Gibb Street. I was so happy when I saw this garden. I thought the environment would change when I moved. My parent's told me about the absurd features on Gibb Street. I had been on Gibb Street once so far, and that was to get to my house when I got lost walking home from school one day. When I was walking down the street it looked like a rainbow; with all the plants of different colors. Today after school I went over to the garden, which was located in a park. The park was a public park, but not a lot of kids go there. Where I used to live my family had our own garden. Every day after school I would check on them and water the plants. Planting is a real quality of me. I love to plant. To be apart of the garden you need to donate six dollars for supplies and seed's. I just didn't know where I would get the money. My parents got home at 10 o'clock. I asked them for $6. I told them the reason


why I needed money. I knew they would want me to join something to interact with other people. They were extremely happy with me and my feelings about moving into this new community. I was very excited the next day to call the director of the garden to tell him I'm in. The next day I went to the store to buy seed's and supplies. While online I met a kid that was in my grade. He was also buying supplies to join the garden. He introduced his self to me. After I payed, he started talking to me more. He asked me more question. The next day I was really excited to go to school and see him. A few weeks later he didn't come to school. I was really curious where he went. A week later I got a letter from New Orleans from his saying that he moved because his dad got a job there. I was really depressed because the only friend I had left me. I went to the garden and just sat they’re for hours. I ended up falling a sleep on the bench. This kid woke me up by screaming in my ears to get up off the bench. He introduced me to the director of the garden. The director asked me a few questions. He inferred that I had experience with being a gardener. I always wanted to work with my community to have a garden. We all started planting. For the first hour everyone was quiet. Then people started socializing and laughing. I was stall by my self, and then this very nice boy named Curtis came over asking who I was. I told him I was new to this garden. He introduced me to all the people. He was the same age as I was. I finally finished meeting everyone and he asked me if I wanted to go to his area of the garden. I answered yes and went over. The last person I met, left me. I was hoping he wouldn't leave me. I saw him in school the next day, we sat with each other at lunch and he introduced me to the kids at lunch. These kids were all welcoming me. I felt comfortable for once. I told my parents about all the people I met at school. They thought it was great. On my way from school one day with Curtis and we


saw a sign that advertised for a plantathon. This is when people plant for a cure. The cure is for drunk driving. It is not a cure, but it will advertise and help people learn not to drink and drive. A program of designated driving. That is how my Papa Tom died. He was drinking and driving this summer and crashed into a pole. The pole fell on him. I was crying for weeks. Curtis and I the next day registered for the plantathan. It was in three days. We were really excited. The day of the plantathon we were excited. It started, it ended two hours later, and we planted 16 plants, which raised $16. Which let two instructors give speeches not to drink and drive. I got home and my parents were home early. They wanted to talk to me. They told me they had bad news to tell me. I was nervous. They said it; I was moping in tears after they said it. I told them we just moved here and we can't leave already. I was really mad; I went in my room and was crying for a half hour. My parents came in and told me they were really sorry and they explained why we had to move. I was still depressed but not as much. I headed over to Rod's house. All the great thing's we did together would be broken and the promise I wouldn't leave was broken. I was was really sad, but also moving had some good parts to moving. I would get to see be with my parents more, they wouldn't need to work on the weekend's. But I would also have to start a new life over meet new people. I was like a train, I would stop and go. My parents had some exciting news for me, but I didn't know if in my eyes it would be so exciting. They spit it out and I was so happy I forgot about all the bad news. The news was my grandma was moving with us and our new house was right next to a community park.


Shoshanna By: Hannah Der Aris If you’re Jewish, people hate you. I quickly found that out when I moved here to Cleveland two months ago. My name is Shoshanna. I was born in Poland. My mother died during birth and my father died in a mining accident. Having no family in Poland, I was quickly handed off to the orphanage. I was quickly adopted and now live here in Cleveland. I like it here and all but, when it comes down to school and other kids… it’s much harder. I find it harder to get used to having new parents when I know I used to have to


others. Having a dad for thirteen years and then suddenly having another one is difficult. It’s a hard concept to grasp. I do call them mom and dad though. My mom is very helpful. It makes me see how much fun it is to have a mother. I could never have that with my dad. He was never a happy person. He was grouchy all the time and never seemed to care about me. He cared about himself and the girl he was dating that week. It made me feel like I didn’t matter at all. The only love I got was sometimes from the girlfriends. Most of them were nice and seemed accepting towards me. I think my mother dying during birth and my father then realizing what he had in store for him was very tough. I don’t know anything about her. Sometimes my dad seemed in another world. He didn’t take well to me even as I grew older. Although I’m sad to watch him pass over, and just thinking about all the stuff he’s done to me during his lifetime, I can’t say I’ll miss him very much because now, I have what I never had before. I’m so glad that my new parents are Jewish too. That’s one of the things I took with me when I moved here. Their names are Sarah and Jacob. They were both raised Jewish and so was I, barley. I find it amazing how much I didn’t know about my culture. I’m so happy to be Jewish. Others, in school and on the block were not so supportive. Shortly after I came here, I found that I was not accepted because of my religion. Kids were mean to me. They took my belongings in the hallway and teased me. Called me names and made me feel terrible as a person. I always came home crying. My mom has tried to do everything she could for me. Things are still not improving. I just have to pretend like it doesn’t bother me, which is hard. I’m just glad I met Shira. She’s Jewish too and goes through the same things as me. She’s always there for me and I’m always


there for her. Thankfully I met her or I would be in a bigger issue than I already am. One day Shira was over and we went for a walk. We found a garden with many people in it. We decided to go in and look around. We liked it there and all the people seemed nice. The next day we went and started our own garden. We worked hard in that garden. We brought both of our parents to see and they both fell in love with it. It made me feel better every time I was there. One day I was there without Shira. I was a little nervous and shy. I saw a girl, who was about three years older than me. She was pregnant. A million thoughts ran through my head. I wanted to go up and introduce myself to her. I decided not to. A few days later, she came up to me. I was once again there without Shira. I didn’t care. I was happy this girl was talking to me. As we got to know each other, I found out a few things about her. Her name was Jenna. She was sixteen and lived with her mom. She told me she was Jewish too. She said people were mean to her too for being Jewish. It only got worse when people saw she was pregnant. I liked her. She was a good listener and seemed to care about me a lot. I opened up to her and told her about my life back in Poland: the struggle, the abuse, and the depression. I’m so glad I moved here. As school progressed, people began to be nicer to me when they saw all the comments could no longer hurt me. I made more and more friends both Jewish and not. Without Jenna, I would never of made it here. One day when Shira was sick and Jenna wasn’t there, I started to feel that empty feeling in the pit of my stomach, that feeling I always had back home. A few people noticed my being upset and came over to comfort me. I felt so loved. I couldn’t believe how nice people were.


I learned something in the garden; there are all different types of people. No one is the same and everyone is different. People can teach you things. You should never judge anyone before getting to know them. Without the garden I could be in the same problem. Not anymore. I’m happier than I could ever be. I never have seen life in such a positive perspective. I’m so thankful for everyone who has helped me see the light at the end of the tunnel. And someday, maybe not tomorrow or even the next day, but somewhere down the road, I’ll be there for them too.


A New Journey Hayden Nadler Back where I lived them southerners are always on the run attacking and chasing people down with guns and other of that stuff. Everyday is a struggle for my life to live against prejudice and racism where I live. The day that changed my life was when I meet a women named Marta. The day I meet her I was head over heels. A week after we started dating. She was African American just like me. After a couple of years dating I was about to propose. Then the news that basically killed me was revealed. I was watching TV one night and my best friend called me. He said I am sorry to inform but your girl friend died in a accident. It was like Lightning just hit me I was devastated . After that my life was never the same. Yeah I got some girl friends here and their but none of them could ever compare to Marta. Every night for a year I cried and cried me self to sleep.

I decided to go to Cleveland to get a fresh new start. Where I lived on Gibbs Street everyone is virtually unseen. You know I have been living here for over three and half weeks and no one has even said hello to me or even introduced me to my neighbors. This neighborhood is a run down dump and a place where a community is virtually isolated. This neighborhood is pretty similar to where I lived in Mississippi. I mean even in my


new neighborhood I still have to duck in the streets because Iam afraid Iam going to be shot. Everyone is racist but it is not as bad as down south.

I live in a apartment got a job working at a local super market. One day walking home from work I saw people planting in a community garden. I thought to my self why are these people planting at this time of year, I mean sure it would be logical to plant in the spring but it was summer. In my neighborhood usually people are not really aware of each other. I mean no one says hello to me and other people seem to be isolated from each other. As each week went on there was something different about the neighborhood. As time pasted people started to smile at each other and be kind to each other. To experience this was very exicting because where I lived before everyone was always horrible and cruel to each other. So one day I decided I would start to plant something. My choice was to plant tulips.

Every day I kept planting these plants and they kept on growing, and for one second I knew that Marta was watching in the clouds. After moving here may life has been prosperous and full of joy. I meet another Girl at the garden and we both had a connection and soon after that we started dating. She also liked planting Tullips so it was a win win situation. We dated for many years and then I decided to propose. Thank god them Girl said yes. It was the happiest day of my young life yall. We both decided that the best place to have our wedding was the garden. We had our wedding and everyone in community came. Although I loved my wife Tarika, I made a very special pledge to Marta that I would


remember her forever.

Two years after Tarika and I got married we had two kids. Me and Wife Tarika take our children every week to the Gibbs Street Garden to plant something special that they love and every time I go there I get a very warm feeling in my heart. Like angels are taking me to the coluds.


Sunshine By: Ali Gange Sunshine. I look out side and I see sunshine. Just like me. I am Sunshine. I was born in a little city in New Jersey. I lived with my mom, dad, and little brother. I was 15 when my little brother was born. I was going through my hardest years of high school. I needed my mother to talk to about all of the dramatic things going on. She wasn’t there. Instead she was teaching my little brother how to walk, talk and all of the other things a baby learns when they are brought on to this earth. Since I didn’t have a mother to talk to, and my father wasn’t any help considering he is a boy and I am a girl and girls and boys go through different things, I changed. My name was Taylor. Well, it still is. The people in the city don’t know me by that. Why? Because when I was 18 I left my family and started life new. Mellow. Sunshine. You probably think I am a normal girl just growing up. Well your thinking wrong. When I said I changed I really did. I changed my life style, what I like and don’t like, and a lot more. I am a vegetarian, and I like to play the guitar. When I was younger I was the coolest girl in school. People called me “hot stuff” and “cutie” and all other names talking an out how good-looking I am. Now I don’t care about that. I love the Earth and everyone/thing on it. I don’t care about being on top. I don’t kill bugs, eat animals, or do anything to hurt the earth. The earth doesn’t deserve this. One time I went on strike on the streets of the city. Telling people not to eat animals, to plant gardens, not to kill spiders. I got 3 people to follow. Those three people are my new best friends. Peddle, Water drop, and Tree. We love nature. All of our names weren’t about nature, but we all decided to start life new and all about nature. So we did everything we possible could. Sometimes people look and my friends and I weirdly on


the streets. We dress with clothing that represents what we stand for, that’s all. The four of us like to call our selves “The Children Of Mother Nature.” We have been thinking of going on another strike, but thinking about how un-successful the first one was, we just decided to hang sings. We spilt up and we each would walk the streets of many towns talking and showing people how to live life right. To live life Mother-Natures way. This morning I have to go down the some different streets not very close to my house and hang signs. I hear these streets are not mellow. They are all crazy and they just don’t let the breeze fill their soul. I am walking down a street. Its called Gibb Street. I feel like I don’t belong. As I continue to walk and hang signs. I smell it. The smell of flowers. Blooming. Then I hear it. Water being poured. Then I feel it. The sun beating down. I start getting closer. Mother nature is calling. I finally see it. There is a garden. My face changes. I run to it with the biggest smile on my face. As I enter, I am welcomed my a man. His name is Sam. This girl then smiled at me. Sam told me her name was SaeYoung. I was so happy to see the garden. Sam told be how it all started, and who is part of the garden. Hearing more about the garden just excited me more. I would love to be part of this. He told me I was welcome to the garden any time I wanted to come. He even said I can plant something in his garden space. The next say I came back, and brought Peddle, Waterdrop, and BLANK. We decided we were going to have a garden space together. Suddenly the uncomfortable feeling I get when I am on Gibb Street disappeared. I had a feeling I was going to be in this garden a lot..


Joey

By: Michael Theodosiou I was nervous about coming to this country in the first place. I loved living in Italy, it was a really nice green place, fresh air and great people. This city seems gray, not good people. There’s garbage everywhere and a lot of homeless people. The school is a mess here, drugs, guns, future convicts, you name it. The only reason I moved here was to have a better education. I’m the only child so I’m pretty independent on my own. Both my parents worked two jobs an order to live in this house. I come home to an empty house everyday, so I do my work until my parents come home. When they come they ask me how my day goes. My parents are really tired when they come home so we eat dinner together, then they go take a nap. I barely see my parents anymore. In Italy only my dad worked so I saw my mom everyday. Anyway, I finished my homework and was thinking about the garden. I took a peak out the window, it was 8:30 at night and there were still people gardening. I was thinking about joining because there was a very friendly man who worked there named Sam who seemed really nice. Everyday after school I would see kids running past me to go to the garden. When I first came here this was a vacant lot with tons of garbage. Now, it’s a beautiful garden. The next day at school this kid got caught with a weapon at school. My parents were notified about this. I didn’t tell them at dinner before they brought it up. I was hoping that this would get me out of this terrible school. My parents were thinking about moving, I was so happy. The next day I was talking to my only friend I made at the school. His name was Jimmy. I told him that I


might move out of the school. He was also part of the community garden. He told that Sam let him plant an olive tree. He told me join, he said at first he was at the same place as I was. So the next day Jimmy brought me to Sam. I asked him if I could plant lettuce. He told me I could and then he recommended me to go to a store. I went there and I asked for a lettuce plant. Then the next day after school I planted it. Sam already had the hole dug for me, I plant the seeds, coated it with dirt, added water and left it there. After a couple months my plant was fully grown. I took the lettuce home to show my parents what I grown. They were happy for me. That’s when I told my parents if we could stay home; I didn’t want to move anymore, I was happy in this neighborhood for once.

Thomas I was walking home from school


today; it was a very hot spring day one of the last days of school. I passed a lot of blocks and a lot of apartments and houses then I saw a garden on Gibbs Street, when I walked past it a couple of days ago it was in very bad condition. It had all garbage all over it and there were no plants in it. When I walked passed it today it looked much nicer; it had some plants and flowers. My name is Thomas. I like to play sports, I don’t like school. My favorite sport is baseball and football. I am originally from New York. My grandparents were born in Italy. I got sent here because my parents sent me to boarding school. I was sent to boarding school because I was getting really bad grades and I wasn’t paying attention in school. So that’s why I was sent to boarding school. My birthday just passed and now I am 13. I have 2 siblings. Later on in the day I went to get a closer look of the garden and what it had in it. It had all different types of plants and flowers. I saw a lot of people there and I walked closer to see what they were doing. I saw a lot of other people planting things also. I think there were so much people at the garden because it was improved and it was a nice day. Some of them were planting eggplants, tomatoes, lima beans, and some of the things I didn’t even hear of. I saw an old guy in a wheel chair planting things from a garbage pail. Also I saw a guy planting tomatoes and it had a sign that said someone’s name. I saw a lady have like a funnel and they were having some sort of competition. The competition was like trying to get the most water into the bucket. Also I saw a guy helping people with some advice. I saw some problems with the garden. One of the problems was the garden was too small. So I told one of the people that plant in the garden. When it was time for summer break, my parents drive to pick me up from boarding school. When it was summer vacation I was back in New York. I missed my friends so I hung out with them almost every day. One weekend on a Saturday my dad


woke me up early when he was reading the newspaper. He asked me if this place was near where I stayed for the school year. The garden that I lived near got bigger; it now stretched from one block to another. It was now a plant store and a little place for you to plant flowers, plants and now trees. Also it is now one of the biggest nurseries in the state. That summer was a very hot one; I went in the pool a lot and I played a lot of baseball with friends. When I got dropped off at the school for the year I went to visit the new garden store. It was a very big store. A couple weeks later there was a big snow storm that hit NY. All their vegetables and fruits were destroyed. I went to the store and bought a bunch of fruits and vegetables for my parents. My dad thanked me for the food and he also told me that my grandmother was very sick with a brain tumor. I felt really bad so I went to the store again and bought a lot of flowers for her. She got so happy that I did that. My parents were very happy that I did that. They took me out of boarding school and I went to regular school again. I was very happy that I was out of that school but I was not happy because I was leaving the garden. My family and friends were very happy that I was back home in New York and the same school. I didn’t want to go back to boarding school so I worked way harder in school.


ZACH By Aaron Marcus Standing in front of a giant crowd and looking at all the people in the garden seemed‌ different. I then started feeling a clammy, sweaty feeling in my hands. I knew I was nervous. And when that happened my mind seemed to blank out, when I recognized my friend Curtis with his girlfriend Lateesha, giving me thumbs up. I then remembered what I was here for. I was here to remember my


13 years of life. After all, this was a big milestone in my Jewish career. I remember first studying with Papa Paul and I kept telling him that I couldn’t do it. He just looked at me with disbelief. He then would say, “Zach if you think this is frustrating, and hard, then you would not imagine what it was like to be in fear of death all the time in a World War.” Papa Paul was my grandfather’s name. He was 87 and I was 12; well that was a year ago. Papa Paul always used to tell me about his stories when he fought in World War 2 and to not forget my Jewish heritage. Papa Paul always said that it was important to carry on the Jewish religion. He would say, “Like the circle of life.” Then like a hand in my brain, I pulled out a dusty section of my life that I hadn’t touched for two years. I hadn’t always lived here in Cleveland. When we first moved here it was very different from Miami. I remember the palm trees and the blazing hot sun. I looked at my arm and saw that my skin wasn’t as tan as it used to be. I used to swim, hang out with my friends, and beat up my little brother Jack. That’s when I closed my eyes and remembered the reason why we moved. Papa got sick and he lived here with nobody to take care of him because Grandma Fran died last year. When I left Miami it felt like I was like tearing pieces out of me so you could imagine it felt horrible. My parents had no choice and we had to help my Papa recover. At first I was mad, but then I remembered how much I loved my Papa and how much it would mean to him if I came to help him get better. I remembered the plane ride and how sickening it was to fly away over the giant diorama of Florida. One minute I look outside and I see a colorful sun and a bright sky. I wake up from my sleep and it is rainy and a dark sky.


I will never forget running down the ramp to see my Papa on the other side and squeezing him. He handed me a rapped present. He then said, “Happy 12th birthday Zach.” Once again I looked out into the crowd and I saw one of the kids from my school. I couldn’t believe he was here. In Cleveland, kids my age weren’t friendly, there were no sport leagues, nothing, zip. I recalled that the 1st year in Cleveland was not a nice and friendly one. Back then it felt like the only thing that I had was my family and my Papa to take care of. I started remembering my whole life right before my eyes, but one particular memory. My mom used to tell me about a story when my Papa and I were planting an apple tree. It also made me think of the circle of life again, which took me back to my bar mitzvah again. I was now 13 and my parents and I had talked about it when I had first turned 11 and that there was a service and a party. I probably wasn’t going to have a party because, even though we are good party people, Papa, Mom, Dad, Jack and me couldn’t throw a gigantic party, we didn’t know anyone in Cleveland…Yet. Preparing for my bar mitzvah was really frustrating. My Papa had given me bar mitzvah lessons. My Papa was really important to me and he felt like the only friend and the only person I could joke with or play poker with. Meanwhile, my Mom told me to go and pick up some water from one of the stores along Gibb Street. Usually Dad had to pick up the groceries but he was at work all day today. I had never been to that part of town but my Mom assured me that I would be fine. I got onto Gibb Street and kept walking. Most of the buildings were old, moldy, and dirty on this street. It was freaking me out so I quickly ran by when I saw a lot. This was the lot that I had heard rumors about from school. I had heard it to be vacant and creepy. I was looking at it and it was


definitely not vacant. I didn’t know what it was. But it was certainly not vacant. It seemed like the whole town had been abandoned but actually, it was all squeezed and compressed into this little lot. A rainbow of plants and all sorts of vegetation was glowing with the personality and friendship that I had been longing for. Through the plants I could see everybody’s story. I finally walked into the lot full of people and plants as though it seemed like heaven. I walked over to a man who looked like a jock. I hadn’t known then, that this guy would become my first real friend that I would meet in Cleveland. He was strong, which made me wonder why he would be planting tomatoes for a girl named Lateesha. I was going to try and start a conversation but instead he did. “Hi, I’m Curtis.” “Oh hi, I just wanted to see what all the plants were for.” “Well, in this garden, we all plant for purposes. Some people plant for fun, some people plant for specific reasons.” “I don’t understand, what do you mean?” “I mean everyone plants for something. For example, I’m planting to get my girl back.” “You think this will get her back? Wow, you have to get out of this garden. You don’t get girls by planting in a garden”“No. You don’t have girls falling over you. I’m trying to show her that I can be sweet and caring and dedicated.” Curtis and I talked for the rest of the day. I helped him with his tomatoes and we talked about Major League Sports and other things friends talk about. At the end of the day he told me an important thing that explained life. He said, “You don’t know what you got until it’s gone.”


I decided that after school, I was going to plant something of my own. I thought about what I would plant all day at school but I couldn’t make up my mind. When I got home from school, my Papa was the only one there because, my Mom and my Dad were at work, and my brother goes to school later than me. Papa asked me if I wanted a snack and I said sure. I opened the fridge and I looked in the door and pulled out an apple. I took a bite. I looked at my Papa and I knew what I was going to plant in the garden. I rushed out the door with my apple and ran all the way to Gibb Street. I found my own spot as I began eating my apple and digging the soil at the same time. I was digging and chewing when suddenly I heard, clunk. I had reached the core. I then took the tiny, black seeds and planted them in the hole I had made. Next, I covered the seeds and poured water on it. Just then Curtis came over and I told him about my new part of the garden. He reminded me that apple trees take 5-10 years to grow. I told him that I didn’t mind and that I had a specific reason. I checked on my baby tree everyday and watered it. I also met new people in the neighborhood. I met a man named Sam who helped everybody meet the other people. I also met a man named Amir who planted eggplant. I was talking to all the people in the garden and it felt like I was back in Miami without the Miami. I felt surrounded with trust. That’s when I told everybody that my bar mitzvah was in a week and I still didn’t know where I was going to have it. “I know it does sound crazy, but what if you had your bar mitzvah here?” Said Sam. I was shocked. It did seem like a perfect place but how was I going to organize it? It felt like I had the piece of my heart sewn back and better than before. I then heard people say, “Yah! Have your bar mitzvah here! We can all trade and cook meals with our


plants for the reception.” I then said all that I could make out, “Sure, that sounds perfect.” I rushed home to go tell everyone the great news. Mom would probably make decorations and help with organization. Dad would probably help me think of a speech. Jack would probably annoy me no matter what. I also knew Papa and me had to finish the poker game we started last night. I then realized if it weren’t for Papa needing us to move to Cleveland, I would have never had the Jewish connection I have now. Papa was the best and I couldn’t wait to tell him the good news. My tree had symbolized my relationship with the community and my Papa. When I heard that Papa had a heart attack and died three days before my bar mitzvah, I was in shock. I cried myself to sleep that night. When I woke up in the morning, I ran through the puddles of rain just to get to my tree. I looked at the miniature apple tree and felt its leaves. They seemed to glisten back into my eyes that said Papa all over them. I had remembered my seed and the words that my Papa ever said to me. I closed my eyes and I remembered sunny Miami and my Papa. Why did Cleveland have to be so depressing? And here I am now, standing in front of the entire neighborhood. My parent’s eyes whispered go on in a proud fashion. Papa always said to try as best as you can and if your not amazing, who can blame you? I stared out to the whole crowd and saw my Papa winking at me. I blinked and I realized it wasn’t my Papa, it was my little apple tree’s first small apple, shining in the sunlight. I stared at it with a sigh. “You don’t know what you got until it’s gone.”


Zelenka

Missy Rubenfeld

Vitetje. Moved to this country when my Mama was just pregnant with me. She wasn’t even 3 days pregnant.

Don’t know how say a few words in English, but other than that I am pretty good at it. I speak Czech mostly. I speak Czech


fluently.

Had family in Czechoslovakia. Not anymore. Mama begged family to come with us. My family refused. My papa, brother, Bubby and Zaide, and everyone else. Gone. Split apart into concentration camps. Don’t know if they survived. I think about them a lot.

Just my sister Melinda, Mama, and I. I don’t get out much. I never went to school. Melinda is my teacher. Mama works in place you buy food in, one of the words don’t know. Also works in homes as maid. Leaves early in morning comes home late. Melinda teaches me about our culture. Tries to teach American ways but she knows just as much as me. Actually a lot less. Mainly teaches about holocaust. It’s sad. Even more sad that my family was in it and might have died in it. I am glad Mama took Melinda and I here before we were rounded up into the ghetto.

I am sitting in front of the television. It doesn’t work well. All I can hear is static. We can’t afford a new one. I am wondering if it looks how it sounds. Oh yeah. I forgot to say, cant see. Blind. That is why I don’t go to school. Mama thinks they wont know how to teach me.

Last night I had a dream. I actually saw something for the first time. Normally I just hear smell and feel things. It was amazing. In it I smelled flowers, vegetables, and fruits. I have heard of places like this many times. They are called gardens. It was all so beautiful. All of colors and shapes. I had only heard of them before this dream. I didn’t


know what anything looked like so I had to smell my way through the garden. I reached a collection of bright red balls. I picked one up and took a bite. It tasted very familiar. Think it is called a tomato, but not sure. Mama used to make tomato soup for me and Melinda when I was little. Then I saw red flowers. They had the prettiest smell. I think they are roses. Mama said that Papa used to pick roses for her. And then I saw an orange fruit. I took a sniff and figured out that they are oranges. Mama said that Zaide used to grow them and Bubby would put them in pies for Melinda and my brother.

Then, I woke up. I was mad that it was over. Now all of the colors and shapes are gone.

Now I am getting ready for Melinda and me's daily walk. Love going out with Melinda. Love getting to breathe fresh air, to feel the wind in my hair.

We walked out the door and started down the street. Melinda guides me and holds my hand. Most of the time I know where we are. I am used to the surroundings, so I walk in the usual path today. I walk straight ahead but my sister pulls me the other way. I feel the ground shake and the wind fly faster. I hear cars motors as they pass. " Why are we crossing street? Never go this way before." I asked. "We try something new today." she answered

I don’t know where we are now. Melinda drags me as walks. Have trouble, don’t know where to go.


I smell something. Smells familiar. I stopped walking. Melinda kept on and stopped when she saw I did.

"What is wrong?"

I remember! Know what I smell!

Started running. Running to smell. I followed it. Followed it until I bumped into fence. I hear my sister breathing behind me. She put her hand on my shoulder and caught her breath. She was running after me. " What are you doing?"

I didn't bother to answer. I took in smell. Got stronger. I smelled fruits, flowers, and vegetables. Like my dream. I dropped down to ground and searched for one. I could smell a fruit where i was. I smelled tomatoes. Patted around the ground. Ah Ha! I got one! I grabbed one and started to bring it close to my mouth for a bite. "Can you please let go of my hand?" The fruit started to move. I felt my sister brush up next to me. "So sorry. She can't see you. Don't know what she she is doing." she said. " Oh. It's fine." A deep voice replied. I squeezed the fruit and realized that its not what I thought. It is a big hand. It was rough but strong. The hand grabbed onto mine. It pulled me up. Hand went away and was replaced with a round fruit. This is what I smelled. " Have a tomato" the deep voice said to me. I took a bite. It was delicious. " Thank you" I nodded my head and searched for my sisters hand. I grabbed onto her and walked further into the garden. I slid my feet trying not to step on anything. An older voice stopped us as we walked.


"Welcome to the Gibb street garden. We have plenty of room for new Gardeners."

I thanked him for the welcome. "I want to garden" I told Melinda. "Are you sure, Zelenka? It is not easy, especially for you." Just nodded my head. The old voice showed us to spot. I know what I will plant. Roses and Oranges.

We bought seeds from the place that Mama works. When we plant Melinda makes holes in the ground and touches my hand to them so I know where they are in the soil. Then she gives me a seed and I drop it in a hole. Then Melinda brushes the soil on top.

We come see our Roses and Oranges every day. Once the first sprout came up I already felt closer to my family. I also felt closer to the earth and it started to get easier to navigate and tell what things are. The people around us are very good at speaking english. My language is getting a lot better and I know almost every word. I am very proud of Melinda. She has gotten much better at English from listening to our neighbors too. Now she is almost as good as me.

I can finally smell the oranges and roses, and Melinda told me they were ready to pick.

We made a bundle of roses for Mama, and we picked 4 oranges for Melinda to make orange pie.


Period8Vignettes  

student work from SeedFolks

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