In 2003, Minister Donna Schaper wrote an op-ed for The New York Times detailing her rejection from the Coral Gables Garden Club. It seems that the ladies of the club thought she'd bring inappropriate people into the club (meaning gays and blacks). Because of this piece, Minister Schaper was invited to join other clubs around the country. Minister Schaper argues that gardening is a way to sustain activism. It's a ritual for radicals — urbans, nomads, and for anybody who is sufficiently angry.
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Donna Schaper is a life long gardener, granddaughter of a strawberry and potato farmer in upstate New York. She has written many books and publishes frequent essays in NEWSDAY, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, on NPR, NATIONAL CATHOLIC REPORTER, CHRISTIAN CENTURY and many others. She is the winner of an ACLU â€œCourage Award.â€? She is currently a Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City. She is chair of the Interfaith Clergy Dialogue, an affiliate of the National Conference for Christians and Jews.
From 1993-2000 Dr. Schaper served as the western Massachusetts executive in which position she was responsible for supporting 125 United Church of Christ congregations. She had strong urban ministry experience in Chicago, Philadelphia and Miami. She was one of the first woman trained by Saul Alinsky in the 1970s and she was the executive director of Chicagoâ€™s Urban Academy. She was also an associate chaplain at Yale University. Rev. Schaper completed her theological studies at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg, PA and the University of Chicago Divinity School. Her Doctor of Ministry degree is from Hartford Theological Seminary.
She is married to Dr. Warren Goldstein, chair of the department of history at the University of Hartford. They have three adult children Isaac, Jacob, and Katie.
With apologies to Pete Seeger, one can almost hear a trio of folksingers answer the musical question "Where have all the hippies gone?" with "Gone to gardens every one" as self-proclaimed activist minister Schaper ponders the merits and miracles she has discovered while working in gardens. From Manhattan to Miami, Schaper has dug in her heels (not to mention her bulbs and seeds) to ground herself by creating or tending a garden. The term "putting down roots" is not one Schaper takes lightly, as evident from this vibrant collection of essays that is as zestful as a hothouse orchid yet as straightforward as a simple white daisy. With seasoned insight, Schaper draws a direct correlation between caring about and acting upon social issues and tending the land. From economics to aesthetics, recycling to reflection, gardening can impart essential lessons for social change, even if it's only a society of one. Carol Haggas
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