Urgent Evoke

A crash course in changing the world.

Growing Power: Building a 21st Century City

I visited GrowingPower in Milwaukee Wisconsin recently and let me tell you: Will Allen is a badass. An ex-professional basketball player who grew up on a farm, Will Allen now buys land in urban inner city communities and creates urban farming ecosystems. What does that mean? Gardens filter water for fisheries. Goats and chickens create milk, eggs, and waste for composting Worm farms. Hydroponics, Aquaponics, Solar, Goats, Chickens, GrowingPower has it all. This is a model food solution, textbook Smart-Growth as Harvard Economist Umair Haque calls it, a start of The next industrial revolution.

In 2008, Will Allen received the in MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant” of $500,000 USD because he revitalizes urban, desolate land into thriving farming, fishery, composting communities. He is making change, teaching the children, providing healthy food, and training a new generation of farmers.

I choose to shadow my Wisconsin neighbor Will Allen because I'd like to learn from him, and have him as an ally. Research I've found says 10-20 million additional farmers are needed to create self-reliant, energy independent, local city food economies. “New generations of farmers will not be created from rural communities. These communities have been destroyed by factory farming. 21st century farmers will come from the inner city.” - WIl Allen

Growing power has a Twitter account which I will follow. I’ll also reach out to Will Allen via email directly, encouraging him to use Twitter to share his efforts.

Looking forward to this growing season in Wisconsin, I’ve chosen to upgrade an urban park, 220 acres of underutilized forest and mowed grass. I’d like to implement a Will Allen strategy to involve community, then expand with my own vision of a recreational green-space ecosystem: (orchard, martial-arts grove, Disc Golf course, labyrinths, community earth oven, mosquito-free zone)

If you were in charge of a 220 acre park, what would you build to involve community? What would people do in your park?

Views: 112

Comment by Ayala Sherbow on March 12, 2010 at 12:18am
James, I just found you on Evoke and am already kind of in awe of you. I am eager to learn more about this park. How did you end up with 220 acres?
Comment by James Ream on March 12, 2010 at 2:09am
70 acres of the park is a Disc Golf course. I volunteered at every opportunity last summer. This year, the club elders offered me responsibility of that land. Now, I'm in charge of volunteers and submitting new projects to the city forester. So I have complete access to 70 acres and limited access to ~130 acres.
Comment by Ayala Sherbow on March 12, 2010 at 2:54am
Comment by Mita Williams on March 14, 2010 at 12:16am
It looks like you are going to make the most of this wonderful opportunity! 25+ Spark!
Comment by Carlo Delantar on March 19, 2010 at 4:31am
wow you make it sound easy to do this. hard work pays off . look at Will Allen. He is doing something good to smog- grown cities into oxygen-giving cities. clever idea of making your own! Hope it goes well for you
Comment by Michele Baron on March 19, 2010 at 2:53pm
As you noted, Will Smith included composting and fisheries in his projects. Questions: what natural amenities exist on the 220 acres of "underutilized forest and mowed grass"? (1) Any water? Will your community-interaction "green-space ecosystem" plans include waste-processing provisions? Bog-flow, leading to fish ponds to decrease/eliminate mosquito problems? Or? (2) What will you do with the "forest" trees--cut, use lumber? Design tree-shrub interplantings for your labyrinth? Will you be co-planting the orchard with long-season pollinator flowers/shrubs, to encourage bee, butterfly, bird processes? (add-in apiary to encourage "friendly productive" bees to stay?--keep hives protected from visitors/vice-versa) (3) Relationships with local schools, scouting or other groups to enable children to have guided access/ongoing interaction so they can follow their gardening efforts, learn to train others as they mature?
Great posting--+1! Thank you and good growing.
Comment by James Ream on March 19, 2010 at 2:59pm
There is a polluted man-made lake on site, so yes, the plan is to include waste/water processing systems. Some forest trees may be removed for re-use, building walls, shelters, water barriers, etc. Great Ideas:Interplanting, pollinators, apiaries, and community relationships. I've added these all to goals for the space. Thank you Michele.


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