A few of us began to ask the questions “What does community look like when we’re all equal and respected members working together in self-reliance and dignity? How can we build communities from the foundations of what exists now to be inherently whole and just?” We looked to public housing as a beginning. The big thing that motivates everyone is access to healthy food and food security. The efforts around local food production here have been two-fold. From electing a food policy council member to the city council to launching an edible landscape movement, the city is underway to creating a (not so) new culture around food production. Even the public housing communities are part of this movement, though they don’t have nearly the same access to resources or training to sustain their gardens. The white leaders learn this and are initially excited to do something about it, but when they receive funding through their respective nonprofits to address the marginalization, something manages to go not quite as planned and the people are left figuring out what to do on their own save a few independent white allies, meanwhile they continue to experience sabotage and non-cooperation from the Housing Authority for their efforts.
But all in all, everyone is excited about local foods. And they are all pushing in the same direction–for farms to depend just as much on animals as they always have. In this urban local foods culture, chickens and rabbits and goats are the popular ones and a breeding industry has erected here in response to that demand. (One of the public housing communities hasn’t been able to acquire any animals yet because they don’t have the access or the resources.) When it comes to community-building, self-determination, and wholeness, once again, animals aren’t included in that picture except as objects to exploit, and people of color are barely included, but trying as always to be equal in participation with white communities who seem to have the resources, the space, and are determining the direction of the vision and the vision itself. Continue reading »