Detroit: Template for Transformation

Our Green Acres Neighborhood Garden (GANG) during its second season, Bloomington Indiana

“New documentary highlights the incredible rise of urban gardening in one of the least expected places.”

Actually, this is exactly the kind of place one would expect such a movement to arise: from the bleak, barren ruins of an industrial wasteland to the proliferating riches of renewed community life: Pluto in Capricorn, restructuring the cityscape to encourage nature — and our natural lives — to surge up from within it.

Infrastructure is destiny: the shapes of spaces within places can create fertile fields for human possibility. Each of us can take the initiative (Uranus in Aries, buttressed by Jupiter and Mars and Sun in Aries) where we live to do the same. Whether it’s your own backyard garden, or one you share with your neighbor, or neighbors; whether it’s turning city parks into community gardens and zoning for neighborhood markets, or CSA’s — we need to grow our own food, and we need to convert from industrial agriculture NOW.

Oh, and incidentally, this will also help us meet, green, share and learn from each other, plus remember our inherent interconnectedness. We give up the rush to “go places” and get ahead of the next guy; instead, we stay in place, and grow rich with the hidden wealth that springs up from within the earth and ourselves.

See also the Detroit activist post, where 95-year-old Grace Lee Boggs asks us to get our children out of the schools where they’re being prepared for jobs that don’t exist and into all the empty lots.

If you haven’t seen the film on Cuba, “Power of Community,” do. Cuba pioneered this transformation out of necessity in the early ’90s when their chief supplier of oil, the Soviet Union, collapsed. Now, as I recall, over 80% of the food eaten in Havana is grown in the city, and most of it organic.


Vision — Urban Roots: Detroit’s Industrial Collapse Gives Birth to Flourishing City Gardening Movement

April 14, 2011 |
The collapse of industrial cities continues: Detroit, once ranked the 11th largest city in the United States, has seen it’s population decrease from 2.2 million to just over 700,000 according to the 2010 census. This Earth month, Tree Media, the creators of The 11th Hour, are releasingUrban Roots, a film that highlights the hopeful emergence of urban farms in Detroit, as a struggling city finds a new voice, and asks the question, when everything collapses, what happens next?

Urban Roots is the latest documentary from Leila Conners, Mathew Schmid, and director and Detroit-native, Mark MacInnis. Urban Roots centers on the rise of urban farms in Detroit where people are taking matters into their own hands. Citizens are working together to create self-reliant communities based on organic food and have transformed many abandoned lots into community gardens and farms. The people of Detroit are taking back Detroit: one garden, one farm at a time.

The driving force behind the American dream has changed; Detroit, a bell-weather for other cities once dominated by industrial strength, large corporations, now finds itself perhaps emerging anew based on small, independent, entrepreneurial farms, like Brother Nature Farms, Earthworks Garden, Feedom Freedom, and D-Town Farms, all located in the heart of Detroit. A large part of the film discusses food issues such as making fresh food available to people now living in what has been termed a “food desert.” Most of the farms also sell their crops at weekly farmer’s markets such as Eastern Market and one business, FOOD (Field Of Our Dreams), even distributes fresh food to surrounding neighborhoods via their “mobile market.”

The human spirit, and soulful vitality of Detroit’s diverse citizenry shines in this film. “People from all walks of life coming together to find a common cause, common principles and create community is the only constructive antidote to what is presently our centralized, big business economy,” says Schmid. Urban Roots, “shows another option besides collapse, instead, when people take responsibility for themselves, and when the framework allows them to create community, that’s when change happens,” says Conners.

As MacInnis says: “It took men like Henry Ford, William Durant, and Lee Iacocca to build this city, but it’s taken a bunch of strong willed self-taught urban farmers to save it.” Perhaps the new global dream is a field of dreams.

Urban Roots can be seen in 70 cities across the nation in Whole Foods “Do Something Reel” Film Festival or purchased on urbanrootsamerica.comEveryone is invited to lend a hand, plant a seed, and change the world.

Urban Roots Trailer from Tree Media on Vimeo.

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