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"If you ain't a gardener, you ain't gangster"

Posted by on Mar. 7, 2013 at 9:54 PM
  • 18 Replies
3 moms liked this

This man is just...awesome. So damn awesome. Watch the video, so worth it. 


‘If You Ain’t a Gardener, You Ain’t Gangster’ (VIDEO)

Ron Finley talks about gardening in the inner city, the ‘most therapeutic and defiant act you can do.’
‘If You Ain’t a Gardener, You Ain’t Gangster’ (VIDEO)

Could the shovel be the new weapon of choice? (Photo: TED)

In 2011, Ron Finley planted a garden at his home in South Central Los Angeles. But unlike most gardeners, this civic-minded Angeleno eschewed the privacy of a backyard for the very public stretch of land that runs between the sidewalk and the street curb, known as a parkway. The garden’s visible location was an act of defiance, the fresh vegetables standing in opposition to the otherwise liquor-store and fast-food-centric food system that feeds the surrounding neighborhood. And without a fence to hide behind, passersby could pick some of the harvest for themselves.

But the parkway proved to be perhaps too public—as in, it’s land owned by the city. And there are rules about what can and can’t be grown there. Vegetables, apparently, aren’t allowed, and Finley was given a citation saying he needed to remove the garden—a citation that would turn to into a warrant.



Finley didn’t remove his garden, and he wasn’t arrested for not doing so. Rather, he’s become a prominent voice for bringing food justice to low-income, minority neighborhoods like his own. He talked about his efforts to bring more gardens in neighborhoods like South Central—and to rebrand gardening as, among other things, “gangster”—at the TED Conference in Long Beach, Calif., earlier this month.


“South Central Los Angeles: Home of the drive-through and the drive by,” Finley jokes, darkly, in his talk. “Funny thing is, the drive-through is killing more people than the drive by. People are dying of curable disease in South Central Los Angeles.”

Unlike the lofty ideas of many TED talks, Finley is firmly rooted in tangible action and reaction. He isn’t proposing some unrealized concept he wants the TED-Aspen-Davos Axis to get behind—he’s already doing something and he wants more people to get on board. “If kids grow kale, kids eat kale,” he declares. “If they grow tomatoes, they eat tomatoes. If they’re not shown how food affects the mind and body, they blindly eat whatever’s put in front of them.”

Interested in scaling up Finley’s approach to food justice? Or taking it citywide or nationwide or global? Perhaps you have an idea for some disruptive technology that can help expand the reach of his project. Well, Finley has some advice for you, because he doesn’t want to just talk and have meetings and sit in cushy chairs: “If you want to meet with me, come to the garden. With your shovel. So we can plant some shit!”



by on Mar. 7, 2013 at 9:54 PM
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Replies (1-10):
TexasWife
by on Mar. 7, 2013 at 9:59 PM

I am not really surprised by this. http://www.thegardenmovie.com/ CA has history.

jadedcynic
by NerdyJen on Mar. 7, 2013 at 10:00 PM

I hope he can make a deal with the city to keep the garden. These inner city areas need more green spaces and more sources of healthy food. I know where I live they just stick astroturf or rocks over it and call it landscaping. We're lucky we're close to a grocery store, but there are other neighborhoods that aren't so lucky. If you don't have a car, your only food source is the fast food or liquor stores. It's next to impossible to carry groceries on public transit.

krysstizzle
by DeepThought on Mar. 7, 2013 at 10:00 PM
1 mom liked this

Guerilla gardening is the most amazing kind of civil disobedience. Ever. 

FromAtoZ
by AllieCat on Mar. 7, 2013 at 10:03 PM

I stand up and applaud this man!!

krysstizzle
by DeepThought on Mar. 7, 2013 at 10:06 PM
1 mom liked this

I just fell in love with him after 10 minutes (the video). Seriously amazing. 

Quoting FromAtoZ:

I stand up and applaud this man!!


krysstizzle
by DeepThought on Mar. 7, 2013 at 10:08 PM

Yup. We've worked with a couple of people associated with the South Central Garden (now a farm that is a CSA), and even now on farm to preschool programs. 

The garden and food activists I get to meet inspire me to no end. I know I get kind of geeked out over stuff like this, but this is world changing stuff, imo. :)

Quoting TexasWife:

I am not really surprised by this. http://www.thegardenmovie.com/ CA has history.


krysstizzle
by DeepThought on Mar. 7, 2013 at 10:09 PM

I think he prevailed :)

Quoting jadedcynic:

I hope he can make a deal with the city to keep the garden. These inner city areas need more green spaces and more sources of healthy food. I know where I live they just stick astroturf or rocks over it and call it landscaping. We're lucky we're close to a grocery store, but there are other neighborhoods that aren't so lucky. If you don't have a car, your only food source is the fast food or liquor stores. It's next to impossible to carry groceries on public transit.


krysstizzle
by DeepThought on Mar. 7, 2013 at 10:11 PM
1 mom liked this

Best quote ever :

If you want to meet with me, don't call me if you want to sit around in cushy chairs and have meetings where you talk about doing some shit. If you want to meet with me, come to the garden. With your shovel. So we can plant some shit!

Sekirei
by Nari Trickster on Mar. 7, 2013 at 10:17 PM
1 mom liked this

That is the kind of gangster kids need to be. Much love to him

krysstizzle
by DeepThought on Mar. 8, 2013 at 12:37 PM

Bump because I love this :)

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