NEW YORK -- Ironically, in this era of exponential growth, we are witnessing the disappearance of cities. Our urbanism is becoming increasingly generic -- a Starbucks on every corner and an iPhone in every palm. We can do better.
A gathering of "urban green innovators," as they were called, yielded a crop of optimism about the myriad environmental challenges facing New Yorkers in the coming years. "Count the short-term victories," and "Keep your eyes on the prize," appeared to be some of the main messages from the event.
Recognizing that the majority of us live in cities, is it possible to find a modern day, urban rendition of farmers walking, crops walking, and water walking off the land? One place to look might be in the community gardens of New York, New Orleans, Berlin and Barcelona.
Was the Berkeley land conflict a beginning to land reform struggles in America? I hope so. We simply have to shake up the land grant universities. They need to return to their mission of assisting genuine family farmers or cease to exist.
"We need to find ways to convince people that cooking is not a chore, it is not drudgery. It is what separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom, and it is the most tangible way we have of demonstrating our love to our family and friends. What could be a higher priority than that?"
To grow aromatics, strawberries, or radishes you only need a window and a window box. If you have a balcony, a yard, or, even better, a terrace or a piece of land, you can grow any of the 16,000 marketed varieties of these plants.
There's no need to make this transformation a conflict of cultures, when it's really about safe and healthy food for everyone -- no matter your location, your religion, your intellectual proclivities, or your taste in farm show fashions.
Working with local farmers, cooks and artists, Jones and Public Art St. Paul fashioned CREATE into a zero waste public art initiative to take the challenge of bringing healthy food directly to the table.
One of the more thoughtful landscaping undertakings I have seen will be installed over the next 15 years on, appropriately enough, the grounds of the US Department of Agriculture headquarters in Washington.