Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Positive Change: "Imagining Detroit"

Instead of focusing on the negative in today’s paper (“Chemical Suspected in Cancer Is in Baby Products”), let’s be inspired by how people in Detroit are taking matters into their own hands and transforming acres of urban blight into acres of green and food (“Imagining Detroit”).

Mark Bittman, who recently visited the city, writes:
Imagine blocks that once boasted 30 houses, now with three; imagine hundreds of such blocks. Imagine the green space created by the city’s heartbreaking but intelligent policy of removing burnt-out or fallen-down houses. Now look at the corner of one such street, where a young man who has used the city’s “adopt-a-lot” program (it costs nothing) to establish an orchard, a garden and a would-be community center on three lots, one with a standing house. (The land, like many of the gardens, belongs to the city and is “leased” for a year at a time. But no one seems especially concerned about the city repossessing.) A young man who adopts eight lots and has bought another three has an operation that grows every year and trains eager young people. A Capuchin monastery operates gardens spanning 24 lots, five of which they own; at one of them, I meet Patrick Crouch, who’s supervising 10 gardeners-in-training and reminds me that “community gardens are not just about ‘gardens’ but ‘community.’”
Positive change is happening in so many places, and regular (but extraordinary) people are at the heart of these changes. Putting clean food on one’s table and not wanting one’s child to be poisoned by toxic flame retardant chemicals are strong impulses, ones that, hopefully, will eventually outweigh the institutionalized corporate desire to increase stock price.

Click here to read Bittman's column about Detroit.

Click here to read a post I wrote two years ago about community gardens in New York City.

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