We’re in the middle of watching another documentary in class; a film called Urban Roots documents the effects of the growth of urban agriculture in Detroit. The intro, a mini silent film (set to a classic rag on a honky-tonk piano), shows the city in its heyday. A switch to clips of modern (“modern” sounds too positive) Detroit shows just how sharp the contrast is between then and now.
The film details the importance of urban farming in the food-desert of Detroit. Not only do they supply fresh food for the city’s people, but they bring the community together as they work side-by-side in the dirt. And I think that unity sets the basis for change in Detroit. Even if they can’t change what’s happening in the city hall, at least they can boost their morale by seeing the literal fruits of their labor come up each harvest season.
An interesting narrator of the film was a man named Keith Love. (“Love. Keith Love. That’s my real name!”) He told about how he’d been in the ubiquitous “bad place” for a while in life. While I’d hate to gloss over the fact that he “cleaned up,” like it was some easy thing to do, unfortunately I don’t have enough notes to write about that. But, he did clean up, and began working with a community garden. You could see his interest in the business of the garden; in fact, if I’m not mistaken, he seemed to have some authority over at least part of the operation. Seeing Mr. Love so passionate about the delivering of fresh produce to the city of Detroit reminded me of the popular Howard Thurman quote:
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
So that’s what I think the urban agriculture movement is doing. I think it’s the sign of new life in Detroit again, like tiny green sprouts popping up after the whole forest has been burned down.