Irresistible Community Builders, LLC presents: The Right Crew and the Right Tools

By Tom Braford

A lot can happen quickly when you have the right crew and the right tools. We were reminded of that recently when we needed some people to clean up the Ecovillage site.

A couple years ago, a church group, who was sponsoring some African refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo, asked if a few families could use some of our garden space. Since then, they have been raising their traditional crops of corn, beans and squash, using their huge ancient looking hoes, in exchange for keeping the grass mowed at the Ecovillage.

I was pretty sure they were all working full time, but I asked Charles, who speaks English the best, if anyone in their Community might be looking for work. He said they did have full-time jobs but were always looking for additional work.

They were quiet and seemed completely honest and hard-working, so we started to explore what might be possible. Four of them agreed to work four evenings and half a day on the weekend, which was a perfect match for our needs.

So, I bought a bunch of landscaping tools for their first day on the job. They were getting the work done fine with these tools, but then screws started falling out, blades bent and started getting dull. They continued to work hard but seemed somewhat unenthusiastic about the work. I told them if they ever had any questions about what we were doing or saw a way that we could do it better, to just speak up. Dany, who had hardly said a word, asked in a barely audible voice if I had any machetes.

Immediately, a light bulb went off in my head. Of course, these are Africans who farm with what looks quite primitive, but are actually very efficient, big hoes that were probably hand forged and fitted with strong, hardwood handles generations ago. I asked if they knew where I could buy machetes and of course, they did!

They were all smiling the next day when I gave them each a brand-new machete. They were soon hacking their way through a maze of brush, weeds and tall grass. What a difference the right tools make in the right hands!

Contact: braford@sbcglobal.net