Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Dead Melodies

My oh (2x) My

Too much coffee, man, and I suppose that means that we're learning how to be happy. Somebody has to do it, so it might as well be us. It's not like g-d's decided to share the rules, anyway..

This is a good time to be Verde, so we enjoy it as long as it lasts. Last week, we took another very important, very small step toward the vague something we daily pursue, we put plants in the greenhouse! Take a look, ain't they purty (clearly, I've more learning to do on this whole camera exposure thing):

Something else is happening, something we've kind of hoped for but weren't sure about, but the first reviews are in and so far so good.

So, in communities like ours, low income communities, where a lot of people don't speak english and really aren't familiar with the notion that others folks give a crap about their ideas and needs and hopes anyway, changes can come to the neighborhood without anybody knowing about them or having a chance to say what they think.

This neighborhood has almost no parks, local folks load up the kids into a van and take them a couple neighborhoods away to play soccer, to run around, to have a picnic. There's a big site right here in the neighborhood, a 25 acre capped landfill formerly known as Killingsworth Fast Disposal (see pg 14). Now, a master planning process is underway for the Thomas Cully Park, a new park to be located over the landfill. It's a pretty standard process, with periodic workshops/open houses at a local church where folks talk about what they want from a new park.

Well, despite the fact that there's a largely Latino affordable housing community with 321 units, many with large families, only a few of these residents attended the open houses - tho, oddly enough, they did manage to get photographed and placed on the project's website

(hey! that's not right! making fun of the consultants for putting the 4 brown people who attended the session on the website! - I'm just saying...)

Well, we tried something different. We laminated the 11x17 final concepts (Concept E and Concept F), and made many photocopies of the questionnaire. The next morning, Nursery Crew Members reviewed the maps and questionnaire, then incorporated outreach into their time spent maintaining Hacienda CDC's affordable housing properties. In one week of sharing this information, we collected, translated into english, and forwarded to the the consultant team 25 questionnaires, connecting community folk to a process which is going to have a great impact on their daily lives and which, to date, had failed to secure their participation.

We're going to try this some more, with later phases of the Thomas Cully Park Master Plan process, as well as with a new project coming into the neighborhood, the Cully Green Street planning process

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

staying alive

well, wherever we go, here we are...

Most of the year stretches out before us, and so we might permit ourselves a brief - if delayed - view of anticipation, the things we'd like to achieve in 2008 for ourselves, nuestra comunidad, and our organization-called-Verde.
This year we're going to grow our own plants, and we're going to install them in our own projects:

This year we're going to participate in new affordable housing construction projects, multiplying the effect of these dollars - not only will they create places for people to live, but they'll create jobs for the people who live there

We're going to take the mountain to Muhammed. Where local environmental decisions could affect out community, could help solve community problems, we're going to take the process to them so their voices can be heard, so the decision can reflect their needs.

And, we're hitting the road, along with our brothers and sisters (mostly sisters) from the Latino Network, to
Policylink's 3rd ever National Summit on Equitable Development, Social Justice, and Smart Growth (whew.). Verde will be presenting as part of the Workshop Series 5: Strategic Alliances, Building Public Will, and Community Organizing (Friday, March 7, 12:30 to 2:15 pm). No, we won't be on the panel discussing The Green Economy and Jobs. Instead, we'll be on a panel named "Environmental Justice Partnerships," which f'n rocks. Why, because we'll be sitting next to such EJ Ass Kickers (of the Fantastic, ahem) as:

Robert D. Bullard, Director, Environmental Justice Resource Center, Clark Atlanta University

Beverly Wright, Founder and Director, Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, Dillard University

Donele Wilkins, Co-founder and Executive Director, Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice

You know, I read Dr Bullard's stuff when I was in law school, I use his definition of Environmental Racism in the class I teach now, and I've read time and again of the Deep South Center's and the Detroiters' work, so I'm like my daughter in a candy store.

ok, see you when there's more time to kill...