does it make a difference?

Poverty and inequality are so ingrained in the fabric of our society that it sometimes seems like only grand gestures make an impact. Gestures like leaving your entire fortune to solve malaria and tuberculosis. Or abandoning your family and moving to the poorest country in Africa to personally deliver medical care.

For the rest of us, there are two ways to look at the problem. You can decide the problems are so monumental, there’s nothing you personally can do to change the status quo. Or you can decide it’s OK to chip away a bit at a time, even if the results don’t seem very impressive. A couple of years ago I started helping our community garden grow vegetables for a local food bank. Last year we donated 163 pounds of fresh produce — believe me, that isn’t much. Delivered all at once, our summer’s worth of fresh food would be gone in less than an hour. So did we make a difference? Hard to say.

But if you count food bank donations from all of the city’s 63 community gardens, you get more than 30,000 pounds of fresh food donated last year. Which makes it harder to argue that small actions don’t make a difference.

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