gentrification and urban ag

real quick like, i have a new article in the online magazine type think grist.  it’s my take on urban agriculture, community gardens, and gentrification.

let me know what you think.

view it here.

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4 responses to “gentrification and urban ag

  1. Excellent issues brought up and it is a catch twenty two situation when one creates a vacant lot into a beautiful productive garden that attracts upper income crowd. This is what happened in certain areas of Boston. The locals are displaced and forced out of their neighborhoods. Without community support urban garden farming with be just a tool of developers to cash in on the rise in property values. City land should be set aside for food growing and zoned as such (with multi purpose activities). Lots owned by developers should have a use agreement that recognizes value added and proceeds go to the organization or folks afterwards based upon that increase.
    Go tothe city of Bloomington, Indiana and google transition plan. The city has on the web a comprehensive plan for peak oil and urban farming with permaculture principles. Patrick, this would be a good tool for you and others in Detroit to examine.

  2. Thanks Patrick! I love the 6 suggestions and your thoughtfulness on the subject. It is complex for sure. I have an ongoing struggle determining my role in gentrification as well. Where I live, the work I do, etc…it is all up for examination and is tricky. Thanks!

  3. Thanks for your thoughtful and well-reasoned analysis of urban ag. in Detroit. I was particularly struck by your description of how you “moved to Detroit not because I had answers, but because I had questions.” I think this more humble, yet proactive, approach to getting to know the place you’re in is very much needed, and points to a process for place-making and community building in cities like Detroit that others can learn from.

  4. Well, let me grab the third rail here and see how badly I get fried. Any productive activity is going to “raise rents” You don’t want to be another Bushwick (to pick a name out of a hat; place your least favorite den of hipsters here), I get that, but I think your concern about the “community” might be misplaced. Most of the current residents of Detroit came (or are descendants of folks who came) to Detroit for work in the factories. By and large, the factories are gone. The best thing for some folks may just be a job referral and a rental truck. If that means that Detroit ends up looking more like it did in 1960 than 1980, so what?

    A big tool for those who stay may very well be “adverse possession”. I am NOT a lawyer and have little familiarity with Michigan law, but you might try and get together with some people at Wayne State law (or Michigan Law if you feel like driving) and find a way to turn abandoned residential blocks into small farms. When people own, when people work for themselves, that is when success uplifts a community. I think too many have been so conditioned to think about “getting a job” that they completely forget they can give themselves a job.

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