growing power pt.2

i could get into the simple picture part of this post, the part where i talk about the tours i went on at the growing food and justice gathering.  but i think its more important that i talk about the anti-racist training work i did.  that’s the hard work.  below is an observation from just one activity we did, but was the most meaningful to me.


i was kind of taken aback by the difference in working styles between the two groups, the people of color and the white people.  we had been broken up into two groups to tackle the same problem, dealing with poverty and lack of food access in a racially segregated small city, with no communication across racial lines.

in the white group we quickly set to the task of assigning tasks; who would facilitate, who would take notes, and finding a talking stick.  we debated for a long time about how to talk with the people of color group and how we could work together.  trying to find a way to not push our goals on the people of color and not be dominating.  in the end we decided that the best thing would be just to ask for a meeting and just listen to their needs.

meanwhile across town, the people of color were meeting.  a friend later recapped to me what that meeting was like to her – i’ll call her kija – cause that’s her name.

“folks just started telling stories, it was taking forever to get a plan together, i just knew those white people were gonna win”

when the people of color group presented they had a long and articulate plan for how they were going to make their community food secure; starting gardens, their own grocery store, a growers co-op, getting produce into schools and training high school students to become growers.  when all of that was developed, the plan included the possibility of  asking the white people to the table to talk about partnering.

i admit i was a little hurt and taken aback.  i my mind i had just assumed that the people of color would want to work together, but instead, they were skeptical.

and when they heard our plan ” to just listen”  they questioned  “what are listening for?” as though we simply wanted to spy.

kija later described her delight “i thought you white people were gonna kick our ass, but instead, you couldn’t even figure out your own needs”

kija was right.  but it took me a long time to see that.  we white folks were trying to play it safe.  not take any risks.  not make any stupid mistakes.  not say anything racist.  not be bad white people.

but playing it safe isn’t real.  and it’s certainly not anti racist.  being anti racist means being risky.  it means taking chances.  it means knowing you’re gonna say stupid racist stuff.  it means being real.  playing it safe is not gonna do anything to combat racism.  and being anti racist doesn’t mean not having your needs met, it just means not having your needs met at the cost of someone else.

so we played it all wrong, but i think i came away realizing that we have to take risks, and we have to be honest, and know that we are still gonna mess up.  maybe if we are lucky we will surround ourselves with people who will call us out and tell us how unconstructive our attitudes are.  i don’t know.  i’m growing, and trying.

all this might sound really obvious, and maybe it is for all y’all brilliant folk, but i think i’ve spent a huge amount of time trying to play it safe.  its time to break out of that, i’m just not sure what that looks like.  any feedback you can provide is appreciated to help me grow.


so now on to the post i would have rather posted than above.  the post where i just post pretty pictures and tell you about all the cool stuff i get to see.  these are from a tour of other sites around milwaukee.

one of growing powers satellite locations, that’s lake michigan in the background.  16 hoop houses growing greens and other gifts.  all of these houses are watered by hand.  truly insane! and mind numbing to think of someone having to spend that much time watering. 
a couple of images from inside the  hoop houses. did i mention that they are all hand watered?  this located in a suburb of south milwaukee – on some land owned by the local waste water treatment plant

one of the main reasons for wanting to go on the particular tour i did is because it featured walnut way, a project that i had heard about for years.  ma had seen one of the founders of walnut way speak a few years ago, and felt their message would strongly resonate with me.  she was, as always right – larry one of the founders was both inspiring and down to earth.

we didn’t have much time to tour around, we did get to see the orchard, and a couple of gardens.

photos don’t really do it justice.  in fact i can’t really do it justice.  – i just recommend looking at the website .


One response to “growing power pt.2

  1. If we have to think about whether we’re taking enough risks, then we’re not.

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