Morro Bay celebrates a local green volunteer

Special to The TribuneFebruary 16, 2014 

The city of Morro Bay incorporated on July 17, 1964. Throughout this year, a citizens’ committee plans to celebrate with both established events and some new ones that it will develop.

Check for updates at www.morrobay50th.com.

At the kick-off dinner in January, several individuals and groups were recognized for decades of contributions. Taylor Newton, 35, and the youngest to be recognized, might be considered representative of Morro Bay’s future.

“Taylor has a love for community, environment and beautification,’’ said Cara Crye, who was emcee for the evening. “Newton organized the Morro Bay Guerilla Gardening Club, which offers work and mentoring opportunities to youth in the community. They work with city, private enterprise and nonprofits to beautify the community and educate about recycling.”

A graduate of Cal Poly, Newton describes the Guerilla Gardening Club in Morro Bay as a 501(c)3 nonprofit educational program that “allows young street-wise men and women over 15 an opportunity to learn about plants, biology and community through the learn-by-doing process.” He said the members are “youth who have fallen down in life; we need to teach them how to get up again and survive every challenge.”

Club dues consist of members volunteering to provide labor, planting, maintenance, composting and waste management at festivals and events. In exchange, members qualify for housing, food, clothing, education and employment opportunities.

“Everybody has value,” Newton said. “We teach our members that when they pay their dues, they can participate in their community. We’re not here to change society, but how to get through life by making one’s space livable. We’re fighting against drug abuse, violence, profiling and the revolving cycle of imprisonment.”

Justin Porter and Dylan Barker have been active members for about eight months. Barker appreciated “having people who accept you without being perfect.” Porter said, “The club has given me a different outlook (and) chances I’d never seen before.”

The Guerilla Gardening Club has created a demonstration garden with sustainable landscaping and a wholesale nursery at St. Timothy’s Catholic Church on Piney Way. The club contracts public and private landscaping projects and is developing an Urban Farming Facility. For more information, go to http://mbggc.blogspot.com or www.facebook.com/
MorroBayGuerrillaGardeningClub.

Newton is president and a founding member of Eco Rotary Club. He was featured in The Rotarian magazine for his development of the club and a zero-waste program that encourages many San Luis Obispo County festivals and events to use recycled materials.

Guerilla Gardening Club members are contracted to complete cleanup, thus creating
zero-waste events. In June, Eco Rotary will present a second Eco Faire, showcasing local sustainable products and businesses.

Newton serves on the Morro Bay tree committee and is growing more than 50 trees to be planted this year to beautify Morro Bay during the Morro Bay 50th celebration.

Judy Salamacha’s column is special to The Tribune. Reach her at judysalamacha@gmail.com.

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