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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Can one individual/ idea change anything?

A man approaches a local nursery to request the use of shrubs, bushes, and plants that the local nursery cannot and will not use. The nursery owners without hesitation take the man, a retiring factory worker, to the “dump” at the back of the nursery. The man proceeds to find items he can use. He wastes no time in collecting shrubs to take home and plant in his garden.

The man continues to build his garden while everyone watches it grow and grow and grow. He trims hedges early in the day and into the wee hours of the morning. His wife looks on in wonderment. He sculpts one bush and shapes another both flat trees and round trees. The topiary garden continues to grow. He makes the bushes do whatever he wants.

First he develops his front yard, then side yard, and now an entire garden. The neighbors are watching. The whole town is watching. I can hear the whispers and read the smirks on their faces. “What is he doing?” and “What does it mean?” People take notice. It is the birth of a phenomenon. No it’s the start of an entire town’s economic development!?

As made up as the story sounds, it’s true. The man is Pearl. Pearl Fryar in fact ( The town is Bishopville, South Carolina. Here you have one man, one passion, and a town of 3,671 people. The truth is Pearl is like countless other people who have a gift, a talent, a calling, and/or dream. The difference is Pearl tapped into his by acting on what he believed. Who knows the sacrifices he made.

He has been in the New York Times, The Washington Post, on NBC, ABC, flown in for college lectures, invited to teach classes and hold seminars, and even featured in an award winning documentary called “A Man Named Pearl.”

He didn’t do it for the fame. He did it partially because of a stereotype that as a new home owner in his neighborhood he might not keep his yard up. Not only did he keep his yard up, but he won the coveted neighborhood award for best yard and drew the attention of the director of the Chamber of Commerce who commissioned him to do topiary in the middle of town. His work alone has boosted the local economy with tourist coming from all over the world.

As we wind down this year, I am mindful of all of the countless people I have met over the last year. There are people who share with me their ideas and offer their encouragement. I wonder how many Pearls we have in our town. Not horticulturalist, but people with a passion for something. Something that once they pursue it with all of their heart will yield something that enriches us all.

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