How Does Your Garden Grow Neo?
Office of Citizen
Rest in Peace,
Submitted by Susan Miller on Sat, 07/04/2009 - 08:43.
I recently took a day to visit with my friend Gloria Ferris. We spent a sunny Saturday afternoon in Tremont, first sitting outside at a coffee shop and then driving around in the neighborhood. (Gloria is recovering from a heart mishap and so walking that far was not advisable.)
She and I had needed a visit, but our visit was also premised on catching me up on re-imagining Cleveland. Unlike me, Gloria had had an opportunity to visit one of the working sessions for the first round of re-imagining Cleveland grant process. She delivered printed materials she had picked up at the workshop to me.
The foundation supported effort is a laudable one from a distance, but it will soon run into political problems, I predict. Most things supported by micromanaging foundation dollars do. Luckily this one is supported by a large foundation whose offices are in another state, not the standard players we see here in Cleveland who have thrown so much good money after bad. Still, it won't make much difference because I see this effort as largely a media effort to get us thinking about what we will soon take, not wait to be given. Why do I think that? Well, our government is largely broken and I am not talking about out BOCC only. We currently have a new audaciously hopeful, but in practice de riguer federal administration. Pay no attention. Collapse is on the way and what Obama is doing to save banks and the auto industry is just pissing in the wind and creating more debt while we dream of "economic growth". In fact, growth is not going to happen. That's why I see Cleveland as being well prepared to manage in the coming years.
Gloria and I drove through the Tremont neighborhood - quite walkable, then crossed the river and visited Ohio City - also compact and diverse. The collapse of the housing market, as we all know, has been underway in rustbelt cities for some time now in preparation for the collapse of the US economy, but as Jeff Buster pointed out there are some remains that can be repurposed (back to their original smart purposes) still extant here.
I have read The Long Emergency by James Howard Kunstler and mentioned it to acquaintances who say, "Stop reading that stuff; it is depressing!" But I disagree. I want to have my eyes wide open as we watch the world change. I had previously read Dmitry Orlov's The Five Stages of Collapse. Recently Stewart Brand's The Long Now Foundation posted a video and transcript of his talk at a Long Now Seminar, Social Collapse Best Practices. I post it here for your interest (setasidean hour and a half for the whole thing).
I believe that Cleveland is poised to be a great place to live as the economy collapses. One quote from the video presentation: "poverty takes practice and those who are already poor are more well practiced." If you need a balm, just think that those in high places have farther to fall, or as my late brother was wont to say, "the higher climbs the ape, the more he shows his bum."
As for urban gardening (and physicist, eco-feminist, activist, Vandana Shiva says that farming needs to more closely resemble gardening), there is a wonderful example of what we are beginning here in Havana, Cuba: URBAN AGRICULTURE CASE STUDY: HAVANA, CUBA.
So whether it is his plan or her plan, that which is funded by a foundation or a government... none of that soon will matter. We'll be scraping things together, recobbling old materials to maintain food, shelter and security. In the meantime, I am staying put, hunkering down and trying to get closer to this place. Who knows, I may decide to change places for the long haul. I could, I suppose, live with my one remaining sibling down on the coast - that place where I lived before I came here. But wherever I stick, or land, I'll plan to stay. I don't think many of us will have much choice.
So here I am "in the middle way" as Eliot put it, learning to grow food at a local organic farm, hanging around the edges of permaculture discussions, posting on realneo and watching from this old house in Cleveland Heights. Some may say it is depressing, waiting for the world to end. Well, no. That sort of end times apocalypse might be more swift and succinct. In actuality, I believe, we will see a slower and more gradual change though it will be abrupt for those of us addicted to oil (Iinclude myself here).
I wonder and will be watching to see how many grants and projects will begin as a result of these Surdna funds. It will be amusing to watch City of Cleveland offices trying to grasp a new idea, a new concept of "growth". But they will come around just as our federal administration will, sooner or later because we are well on our way. What's to save now? Our social fabric.
To get a grant from NPI for re-imagining Cleveland one must be a Cleveland resident. I am not, but I can still imagine. Here's what I imagine for the near term- covercropping Cleveland. Image to follow.
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