Propagating abundance at one of Austin's newest plant stands
How one North Austinite turned her freeze-induced trauma (and love of cacti) into a community hub for connection, cuttings and so much more.
Editor’s note: In yesterday’s newsletter, I told you about Little Free Pantry ATX, one of more than a dozen mini food pantries across Austin. Today’s story is about another community movement that has taken off during the pandemic. I’m publishing these ahead of the North Austin Good Neighbor Fest, which is taking place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.
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Like so many people in need of a coping skill during the pandemic, Rachel Robin turned to plants.
And like so many Austinites in need of help during the 2021 freeze, she turned to her neighbors.
She quickly realized she didn’t know any of them.
Robin is the owner of Quail Creek Plant Stand, where people can leave plant offerings and take home new plants that catches their eye. A pothos sitting in a vase of water, a tiny cactus in a tiny clay pot, a string of succulents coiled in a jar.
After moving to the North Austin neighborhood of Quail Creek in 2015, Robin and her husband made their home on one of the main thoroughfares of the neighborhood, but they hadn’t really made any friends nearby.
When the 2021 freeze hit, she was relying on people she didn’t know. “I don’t want to get to know my neighbors in a crisis moment. I want to build community and actually get to know them.”
That’s when she knew she wanted to start a stand of some kind, and she settled on a plant stand after running across the Oak Alley Plant Stand page on Facebook.
With the intention of making neighborhood connections — and maybe a friend whose house she could walk to — Robin opened the stand in May.
Her plant stand is one of about 20 similar stands across Austin, and they are part of a sweeping movement toward the gift economy, where mutual aid, community care and Buy Nothing groups have created new (to many of us, at least) ways to meet our material needs. (Not to mention the social and spiritual ones, but more on that in a minute.)
In every state in the U.S., you’ll find examples of these grassroots efforts, including little stick libraries for dogs and little free sled libraries for people in snowy regions.
Robin is now known as “the girl who has the plant stand,” which has led to genuine friendships with folks around the block.
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