Hart started as a standout Project Leader for Volunteer Marin—a program of the Center for Volunteer and Nonprofit Leadership (CVNL)—managing efforts to renovate a San Rafael transitional housing site’s yard into a productive garden. CVNL next asked him to help lead garden cleanup and maintenance in Marin City, a low-income and racially distinct community inside relatively affluent Marin County. Struck deeply by harsh comments and negative press coverage about Marin City and upon learning that kids of color in Marin City were at greater risk of school suspension and incarceration, Hart decided to combine his gardening work with another cause he’s passionate about: restorative justice.
Hart forged a brand new partnership between CVNL and the Marin County Youth Court, an organization where Hart has volunteered for nearly five years. He got the Marin City Community Garden Project onto the approved list of youth offender community service sites and brought people from inside and outside Marin City together to work towards a common goal, in the process breaking down stereotypes and improving community access to fresh, healthy food. Hart has mentored hundreds of teen volunteers. His initiative secured a $1,500 grant to buy garden tools and compost bins.