green


Rural sustainability in America can be attained. The majority of the green/sustainable movement has been concentrated in the urban centers – and we have to spread, fast.  Right now, we’re at risk of a civil war in this country – it’s crucial that we intermingle, create dialogue, and build bridges across the gaps.

There’s currently a movement sweeping the country – the anger that’s been fueled (in part) by Fox News and the Tea Party has grown exponentially, and it’s  impacted national politics.  There’s a growing cynicism and anger with the greenies I meet as well – folks on both sides are fed up and frustrated. Powerful emotions are flaring up, and people are going to get burned.

I moved down to Douglas County, one of the largest and poorest counties in Oregon.  I reluctantly left Portland and its microbrews, bookstores, and bikepaths behind, and traded them in for a trailer in the woods.  I found a caretaker position at Alder Creek Community Forest, a baby organization that wants to catalyze change and provide “a place for lifelong learning.”  Now I have 78 acres and 3.5 miles of trails all to myself, in exchange for volunteering to help this organization to grow.  Sound good?  It is.

Douglas County was described to me as “the battleground between environmentalists and loggers over the largest tract of old-growth forest left in the country,” but that may be a slightly dramatized version of the story.  Since I’ve gotten here, I learned that at its height, the timber industry employed somewhere between 40-75% of the county directly, and still employs 25-30% of the active workers.  Estimates of unemployment range from 15-25% in this county, depending on who you ask.

When I started asking questions about the “battle” between the environmentalists and loggers, I was told that it’s relatively moot at this point in time.  The price of lumber is so low that the costs eat up any profit, so landowners are holding on to trees.  Most of the big mills have shut down, and the ones that operate now have found leaner operations to sustain themselves – automation has probably done more to reduce timber jobs than any other factor.  I was told that “mills are processing exponentially more timber for significantly less cost” than they once were, but that “greedy corporate fatcats” told the workers that the environmentalists were to blame for the loss of jobs.  That story still sticks – “the hippies took our jobs!” is much easier to swallow than “I need to enhance my skills to keep up with a rapidly evolving technological society.”

So greenies – if you really want to help Momma Earth, join the quiet revolution and leave the intellectual fortress behind.  Ditch the cities and come out to the sticks.  Don’t preach your beliefs – grab a shovel and a paintbrush, and get to work.  Be a model of the behavior you want to see.  Do your country and your Momma a favor and start a green business where one doesn’t exist.

If you’re a solopreneur like me, this is even easier.  All I need to work is my cell phone, my laptop, and an internet connection.  The DSL isn’t as fast out here, but my desk has a great view.

Who knows, you might find out you love country living.  The air is clean, there’s plenty of trees, and there’s great art supplies – tons of old junk that needs fixing up.  The DIY spirit has been popping up all over the cities, but DIY is a way of life out here.  Country folks are resilient, tough, and kind-hearted.  People stick together out here, because cooperation is a survival skill.

If you don’t need to live in a city, quit!  Start exploring, and leave the smog and congestion behind.  The economy has ravaged these places, and foreclosures are cheap.  You can buy an old bar in Riddle, Oregon for $75,000 – and that’s just the asking price.  There’s a whole amusement park for sale off I-5!  Who hasn’t wanted to own their own roadside attraction?

Sustainable solopreneurs – you know who you are.  Join me, and help spread the love as we grow a new way of life together.  Leave the city behind, and get a little closer to your country roots.  Do it for your Momma.

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CHIRP – Community Home Investment Repurchasing Program

CHIRP is designed to stem the flow of the foreclosure crisis while allowing communities the opportunity to use federal funds to stimulate local economies. There are many safeguards that must be built into CHIRP prior to enacting legislation, but by understanding it as one part of a larger growth and reinvestment solution into America’s future, solutions are possible.

CHIRP allows communities the chance to band together to repurchase homes and invest in their futures. By meeting a set of stipulations, a community can be eligible for a series of federal loans and insurance programs that will allow municipalities to purchase homes from banks for under market value. This provides a much-needed flow of capital throughout the banking structure, while giving communities valuable assets that can be maximized as investments.
Chirp’s stipulations would include a vision and business plan for the municipality, created with direct community involvement. A sample plan would include the rental or sale of community-owned property to increase the funding of public services provided at the state and local levels, such as schools, libraries, police, and fire. This would provide much-needed relief to strained budgets.

A portion of the CHIRP funds for each project would go to ongoing asset management planning – this allows communities to invest for long-term sustainability. By making greater amounts of locally-owned property available for rent, local communities have greater power over their futures. This direct empowerment speaks to grassroots organization efforts on both sides of the political spectrum, and could be a useful olive branch of real bipartisanship in an otherwise hostile environment.

Business, investors, homeowners and governments have explicit self-interest in maintaining and growing property values. There is direct evidence to support the rationale that a rising tide lifts all ships – when prosperity is high, crime is low. By building strong local communities of ownership, we can grow sustainable local economies across the country.

This is the view from a piece of land I’m going to go and see soon.

It’s for sale.

I want to buy it and start a social enterprise – I have a profitable plan that helps kids and makes a difference.

The property has been a lodge/ranch since the 1950s, and it has a decent income stream from guests coming to enjoy the nature and ride horses.  It’s about 20 miles North of the Columbia River in the Southern part of Washington, about 90 miles outside of Portland.

There are 80 acres, 6 cabins (including 2 caretaker homes), and one lodge house. The property sleeps 36-70 guests in its current use as a bed and breakfast.

The lodge house has 12 guest rooms, and would be perfect for a group home for foster kids.

Check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foster_care if you’re not familiar with the state of the foster care system.  The upshot is that this country has a severe crisis on its hands.  There are too many beds, not enough kids, and the effectiveness of treatment programs is questionable.

As a nation, we need more quality programs to help kids.  I’m going to make some assumptions here, and at some point I’ll do more research.  I believe that kids separated from their families struggle more to adapt to society.  I believe that anti-social behavior (think crime) is ultimately cheaper for society to prevent rather than punish – schools are cheaper than jails.

Some kids are too tough for foster homes to handle.  When kids experience a high degree of trauma, they can’t cope with the expectations of school and “normal” family life.  These kids need help learning how to process their trauma while gaining life skills—and quite frequently they need to learn how to get along without using destructive behavior.

This means using a restrictive environment—one where boundaries are firm and expectations are clear.  This doesn’t have to be a prison – boundaries and expectations are constantly established in a well-run company.  Let’s face it, we all require a certain degree of structure—especially during the teenage years, which are tough for us all.

I’ve been planning this business for years—when I saw this property, I got so excited.

I work in corporate transformation—my team gets hired to teach leadership how to produce cultural change.  I realized that I could bring executives out to these cabins every day to work with the kids, and that they would pay us for the privilege.  I can tell the executives that they’re teaching the kids, and the kids that they’re teaching the executives—both will be true.  We’ll all learn a little something, and take it with us each day.

Not to minimize it.  We work with a psychotherapist-turned-consultant named Sylvia LaFair—recently outed as the “life coach” (not what she calls herself, although she does do coaching) for Jon from Jon & Kate + 8, if you follow tabloid gossip.  Either way, she’s been teaching leadership to executives for about 30 years, and has led trips up the Inca Trail and into Chaco Canyon as a part of her work.  She’s a fascinating person, and I am thrilled to have her involved.

I know tremendous teachers, therapists, and social workers who will all help to create a fantastic curriculum for our programs for the kids and execs.  I can pull together the plan to finance the purchase, which is where you come in.

We’re going to “cloud-fund” this together.  That’s where thousands of tiny donations combine to form a “cloud” of money – just like how Move-On.org was able to change the face of elections by pooling the resources of people who want to make a difference.

Except this will be a social enterprise – a business that puts doing good before making profits, but still wants to make money.  I like having a nice lifestyle.  I think everyone should have one.

Our investors should expect a reasonable rate of return—nothing fancy, but enough to put us on par with stocks, somewhere around (I’m estimating) 10% per year.   Thanks to the high profit margins of group homes and executive leadership, we’ll actually have more profit, which we’ll reinvest into other group homes like this one.

The curriculum we develop will be the work of some of the best minds in experiential learning, education, and therapy.  My plan is to donate that curriculum to the Creative Commons—so that anyone, anywhere, can benefit from what we create.

Everywhere across this country, we need to pull together the people that struggle with those who have a lot, and give them the chance to learn from each other.

There are lots of homes for sale, lots of people who need places to live, and a real lack of good “life-skills” curriculums out there.  You know, ones that work—programs that actually teach people the skills to thrive, not just survive.

I want to call this Microcosm, because I want the kids to represent a diverse population—like a microcosm of this country.  Culturally, regionally, ethnically, geographically—there is a need to bring people together, to allow them to experience diversity – not just preach about it.  We’ll be a little tiny America, out there in the woods, saving the world one child at a time.

Stay tuned, and contact me directly at 630.240.3072 if you want to be involved.

ps all these pictures are from the property, courtesy of http://picasaweb.google.com/copperwestoffice/MtAdamsLodge

“Because people think they’re Gods.  I don’t know, you’re the one who does that kind of crap.”   My fifteen-year-old sister’s response to my question shouldn’t have surprised me, especially since I’d asked it to my friends on Facebook.  I am in the process of collecting answers; I want to know why people climb mountains.

“It is not the mountain that we conquer but ourselves,” said Sir Edmund Hillary, the most famous member of the team that was the first to summit Mount Everest, that famous highest peak.  He once closed a lecture with the line, “nothing can keep us from our goal.” Sir Hillary delivered that speech in school fourteen years before his ascent of Everest.

The spirit of that statement fascinates me.  I believe that sentiment expresses the same ruthless desire for success that creates corporations, the same belief in the self that propels great artists or writers to succeed.  Sir Hillary does not say that nothing will keep him from his goal; he says that nothing can.  In that statement, there is no possibility of failure.

Of course, upon examination, this is not a reasonable belief.  Plenty of things could have kept him from that goal, such as wind, snow, or a bullet to the head.  His determinism falls into the category that child psychologists call magical thinking; the idea that he cannot fail is not rational.

My sister says that I am “the one who does that kind of crap”, but I do not consider myself to be a climber.  Yes, I have climbed mountains.  I sing in the shower, but I am not a singer.  I know people who are climbers, and they are a different breed entirely.

“When I started I enjoyed it and saw it as a hobby; now I feel it is becoming a way of life,” said Billy, who posted on a web site in response to someone else asking why people climb mountains.  “I sometimes wonder why I am here, in this place which is so close to death or injury.”

I wondered that same thing last year, while I was clinging to an ice axe on a glacier at the top of Mount Edziza in Northern British Columbia.  I was working as a field guide in a wilderness therapy program based a few hundred miles away in Alaska.  I was the least experienced of our three-guide team.  Our head guide, Erik, was exploring a crevasse in the glacier above the group.  I wondered what would happen if he was to fall into the hole in the ice.  Matt, the other guide, was back at the base camp with the three-hundred-plus-pound  child who could not summit the mountain’s peak.  That young man had accomplished the largest goal in his life to date by hiking forty miles to arrive at the mountain; Matt helped him to celebrate the accomplishment that day, while Erik and I took the other eight children to the top.

Erik and I were in charge of a group of eight young men ranging in age from twelve to seventeen.  In order to perform my job, I had removed a certain level of personal responsibility from my mind.  I would do anything in my power to save a life, but I was well outside of my comfort zone.  This was my first time on a glacier, my first time on what I would consider a real mountain – I believe that there should be a category somewhere between Mountain and Hill.   The summit of Mount Edziza has been measured at 10,220 feet above sea level –  not the highest elevation I have achieved in my lifetime.  The journey to get there represented far more to me than simply the lack of a trail, crossing the slow incline of the tundra towards the base of Mount Edziza, or even the steep slope of the glacier that I found myself upon.

Edziza is a glaciated volcano – a mountain that was formed from a volcanic eruption and subsequently covered with many compacting layers of snow and ice over millennia.  There are a small series of other peaks directly around Edziza, but she is the tallest in her particular grouping.  During a discussion with our group of boys a couple days after our summit, I told them of the weather patterns that are typical of mountains.

Most non-volcanic mountains do not appear in isolation, but as a range.  Either glaciers have carved out steep channels as they receded, leaving mountains behind, or tectonic plates beneath the Earth’s crust moved together, pushing up mountains with their force.  All across the world, the topography of the landscape helps to shift and create corresponding weather patterns that connect the entire globe.

Heat from the sun soaks into the Earth each day, and rises up, bringing moisture up to form clouds.  At night the cool air sinks as the Earth chills, and leaves dew behind on the leaves of plants.  The topography of each region intersects with the rising and sinking temperature of the air, forming localized weather patterns known as microclimates.

Mountains form distinct microclimates—hot air rising up the slope of the warmer landscape around the mountain collects water as the air cools, and glaciers at the top of mountain peaks help to chill the air into clouds of rain and snow.  The snow collects over eons, compressing into the ice layers which form the glacier.

One of the strange ironies of life is that many mountain climbers rarely get to see the view from the top—because of the clouds.  When we made it to the top of the mountain, clouds obscured our view.  We stayed on top long enough to eat a snack, and to congratulate the boys for their accomplishments.  For many of them, that climb might be the most challenging accomplishment of their life.

On the way up, I was in charge of the eight boys while Erik navigated the crevasse, determining the places that were safe to step.  When his probe plunged through the snow layer, he would carefully poke a region around the area, to figure out which portions of the glacier would support the weight of a human.  This is a standard climbing practice—glacial navigation is slow and tedious work.  Snow bridges – areas of the glacier which look sturdy, but do not hold weight – are common.

The slope of the glacier was roughly thirty-five degrees – we had used our boots to kick steps in the side of the snow, and held tightly on the ice axes which provided an additional hold in case we slipped.  The climb was relatively straightforward.  I trusted Erik’s experience to guide us through.  When he left me in charge of the group to probe ahead, I worked hard not to panic.  My heart rate increased, and my breath rate elevated.  I tried to reduce the tension in my shoulders, to slow down my breath, to convince myself that I would be able to handle the situation if Erik was to plunge into the glacier.  I did not have a plan, and that scared me.

I figured that if he fell through the ice, I would have to evaluate the situation.  First and foremost, my obligation was to the children.  I could not abandon them – if I fell in after Erik, there would be eight boys alone on a glacier in a completely remote area of British Columbia.  Rescuers would take at least forty-eight hours to reach us.  Should I abandon Erik, bring the children down, then come back up to rescue him?  What if I could save him?  My wilderness rescue training was racing through my head, but I felt totally unprepared.  Wilderness medicine is never composed of right or wrong decisions; it is always a best guess, a lesser of two evils, a hope that perhaps the right decision can be made and a life saved.

While these thoughts were going through my head, the young men were getting restless.  Many of the kids in the program have trouble staying focused in school; many have a hard time staying still.  I reminded the boys constantly to hang on to their ice axes, not to throw snowballs, not to jump around.  Finally, I got frustrated. I yelled at them that this was real shit, life and death, and they had better shut up and pay attention.  I had been waiting to use my big-poppa voice, the booming one that means business.  Since the kids had not heard me pull that card out of my inner deck in the four weeks that we had been together, twelve people in almost total isolation, they shut up.  I resumed worrying that Erik would fall through the ice.

Erik did not fall through the ice.  I did.

Before that happened, Erik had been using small wooden poles with neon flagging tape to stake out our path, and had returned to rejoin the group.  He was standing five feet in front of me, and told me to lead the group up the path he had marked.  He was to bring up the rear.  I took four steps, and the fifth did not hold.  My foot plunged through the ice.  The weight of the pack on my shoulders pushed me down fast, and the ice crumbled under ice that had felt stable with my first foot upon it.  Instinctively, I jabbed my ice axe into the ice in front of me, and Erik grabbed my pack.  I was clinging to the edge of the ice in front of me.  I did not look down to see if there was an end to the hole that I was hanging on to; my only thought was to escape to safe ground.  My heart was racing faster than it ever has in my life.

“I should have told you that was there,” said Erik as he grabbed the back of my pack to help me out of the hole.

“Yeah, that would have been nice to know,” I said.  I was getting used to pretending to be far more calm about life than I actually feel.  I turned around to speak to the boys, who were droop-jawed and big-eyed with wonder and fear.  “Hey kids, there’s a hole there.  Don’t fall in.”

We helped the kids to take a big step across the hole, and navigated a few more hidden snow bridges on our way to the top.  When we made it to the summit, we held a small ceremony.  Days earlier, at the base of the trail where we had started, we asked each of the boys to bring a small rock representing something that they wanted to leave behind: a behavior, an attitude, a mental pattern that had held them back.  We were constantly trying to use metaphors to help the boys to understand that their actions and choices determined the course of their lives.  Each of us placed our rock in the snow, and spoke aloud what we wanted to leave behind.  I don’t remember what everyone left behind.  One was anger, another wanted not to steal, another said he wanted to leave behind his habit of being irritating and annoying to get attention from others.  I’m pretty sure I wanted to leave behind my frustrations at circumstances beyond my control, but I was still in a little shock at my plunge through the ice.

We made it down the mountain and back to our other guide quickly.  The boys were elated at their accomplishment.  We were stern in our reminders to them that most accidents on mountains occur on the way down; climbers forget that the mountain is just as dangerous in the descent as it is on the way up.  The lack of caution kills more people than any other factor.  Often it takes the form of summit fever – when the goal is close, people rush in and forget the safety precautions that held them in place on the way up.

“Why the hell are we doing this?” one of the boys asked me on the way up the mountain, before we reached the glacier, when we stopped for a snack.

“You know why,” I told him.  We had talked about the metaphor of the mountain with these boys so many times. “Because once we’ve finished climbing it, no one can take that away from you.  Once we reach the top, you will always be the you that has climbed a mountain.  Because you thought you couldn’t do it – you saw this mountain from a distance, and you said that there was no way that you could climb it.  Now you are.”

That night, we ate so much chocolate that I thought I would burst.  We had prepared for the celebration with the boys by bringing extraordinary quantities of food and desserts with us, lugging them along for twelve-hour days (at times when portions of the group were slow), all for this moment.

“Now that you have climbed the mountain, you can no longer say what’s possible in your life,” I told the boys as they crammed chocolate in various forms in their mouths.  “That mountain is just like any goal that you set – it doesn’t matter which mountain you climb.  You just have to choose a goal, and go for it.  Every goal is attained one step at a time, just like the mountain is climbed.”

I wonder about the results of that experience for those boys.  I know it helped them; I know it was transformative.  It is impossible to measure the impact of an experience like climbing a mountain.  The boys held their heads higher, stood straighter, and had more confidence in their behaviors after climbing that mountain.  My hope is that the boys will retain that knowledge; that they will know that they can, like each of us, choose the mountains that we climb each day.  Many people seem to circle around the base of the mountain that they have chosen, afraid to take the first step, afraid of failure.

“It is not the mountain that we conquer but ourselves,” said Sir Edmund Hillary.  The mountain is not dominated by the experience of a climber.  No one with any sense would presume that clinging to the side of a slope and making it to the top and back down again constitutes mastery of the mountain.  If an ant climbs up my pants while I eat a picnic and makes it to the top of my head and lives to tell the tale to his ant friends, has he conquered me?  No.  In the same way, our only battles are inside ourselves.  We choose our goals, and thus we determine the course of our lives.

There is one quote by Sir Edmund Hillary that I believe adequately describes the experience.  He was asked of the scientific nature of the mission, the reasons why people were paying for him to climb mountains.

“Nobody climbs for scientific reasons,” he said.  “Science is used to raise money for the expeditions, but really you just climb for the hell of it.”

Every business should look to the emerging field of community development for tools that will help to grow their corporate culture.

Every community should look to successful business examples of internal cultural development for the techniques that work to establish consensus.

Steps that work:

1 – Ask questions, don’t presume solutions.

Too often external consultants presume that they know what’s best for a group of people – in an organization, community, or corporate environment.  The first and best practice should always be to assess first, analyze later.

2 – The solutions are always within the group.

Group dynamics are the same wherever humans gather.  The process itself is the solution – too often people sit through ineffective meetings where the same things are regurgitated, the same people dominate the conversation, and the leaders don’t know how to lead.  I guarantee you that there is a solution to any problem within any group that has organized around a collective purpose.

3 – Never underestimate the importance of politics.

Human emotions and relationships are irrational.  All fields of study attempt to categorize irrational behavior into sequential and logical portions – that’s a large part of the human quest for knowledge.  We’re doing a great job.

There are always unknown relationships at play.  Step back, hold the big picture (the mission of the group), and know that the process will never go as fast as you would like it to go.  Don’t tell anyone else to do the same thing – when you encounter frustration (or other negative emotions), make time to listen and understand the layers under the surface.

4 – Find shared purpose, and hold on tight.

Why do people organize into communities?  Why do we decide to work for one business and not another?

The answers always come back to shared values. To effectively manage any group, you must constantly remind the participants of the benefits of their involvement.

Studs Terkel said something to the effect that communities form where there is shared action with purpose.  Whenever we get together to accomplish something, we have formed a community.

The largest question that remains:  What do we want to accomplish?

I’m excited about the US Social Forum in June – they’re hosting it in Detroit. http://ussf2010.org/about – I’ve got to figure out if this is the one that I want to go to. A lot of really good conferences are taking place in Detroit this year, as people figure out that Detroit will be the key to America’s sustainable future.

Detroit’s Green Map – http://www.detroitgreenmap.org/ – is pretty cool. I’m excited to see that these different businesses and folks are working the movement.

The New Republic has a sweet article at http://www.tnr.com/article/metro-policy/the-detroit-project – about the ways in which Detroit’s urban strategy needs to be shaped. Race relations is at the heart of the issue, but the article doesn’t really touch that. It comes from a more European-urban-planning perspective of creating viable urban centers, but I think any conversation about America’s urban core needs to include race.

We’re a nation of immigrants – the ancestors of both the voluntary and in the involuntary. The ancestors of the involuntary have not fared as well as their voluntary counterparts. One can view Natives in a similar way, since very few Natives were allowed to keep their ancestral land and were forced into a sort of involuntary migration. I don’t want to dwell too much on Native issues, because this article is about Detroit. It seems (to me) to be fair to say that one can hold most of the issues of the “involuntary (im)migrants” under the umbrella of “cultural assimilation”.

I’ve been writing for a class about the Oak Park Strategy. My home town of Oak Park, IL is cited throughout Urban Studies and Race Relations case studies as an example of successful integration. In the 1960s there was a huge wave of migration throughout the country as tensions flared in rural areas over forced segregation. Lots of black folks moved into urban centers, and the American ghetto was born. I use the term in a somewhat archaic context – an impoverished area, racially divided from other sectors of a city.

I grew up a few blocks from Austin – one of Chicago’s worst ghettos. I was told that I should avoid it, so my first exploratory mission into Austin occurred when I was in kindergarden. I followed a little girl home from school, got lost, and knocked on someone’s door to call my mom. She came to pick me up and brought me back to the safe side of Austin Boulevard – the dividing line between Oak Park and Chicago.

A few years later, she bought a house only a few blocks away from that line. As a teenager, we crossed it to go buy booze – the Arab-run store on the Chicago side would sell us beer. Oak Park was a dry town. It was started by a Prohibitionist who bought a few taverns – just to shut them down.

The Oak Park Strategy was defined by Carole Goodman in her book by the same name. Written in 1979, it outlines how Oak Park successfully engaged on a campaign to “celebrate diversity”.

The village planners saw that Austin was being blockbusted – real estate agents would “bust blocks” by hiring black folks to push strollers up and down streets, and point to them as they convinced “white flighters” to sell. Those panicky white folks would compete with their neighbors to sell their homes, and they got the hell out fast. From 1969 to 1979, Austin went from 99.9% white to 99.9% black.

Oak Park created a marketing campaign to celebrate diversity. A few core players sold the concept successfully to the real estate community, and did some fundraising for a national ad campaign. They successfully solicited the liberal elite, and convinced them to move to Oak Park to raise their families in a diverse and tolerant environment. Previously a Republican town, Oak Park voted Democratic (overall) for the first time in 1984.

I was born in Oak Park Hospital (which sits on Austin Boulevard) in 1980. I grew up in a climate where diversity was discussed. I am still doing some research and working on a list of questions to ask of the people who have a bit more historic perspective than I, but my core experiences have led me to a strong conclusion.

Detroit needs a diversity campaign. Right now, the city is primarily black, and has been for some time. It may not be politically correct to say this, but my perception is that the black social community as a whole exists independently from the white one. When I bought a house and started a business in Austin in 2006, I had to adopt a different set of cultural values.

I am not qualified to offer opinions on Detroit’s culture. It is incredibly arrogant of me to offer an opinion on Detroit’s needs – I have not been to the city since I was a child. I am really excited about contributing to a movement towards a new Detroit, and to the vision of what that future looks like. It will take many years to conceive, and decades to realize.

Chicago experienced some of the largest population growth after the time of the Columbian Exposition of 1893 – I’ve heard it was one of the largest increases that America has ever seen. It was due to the amazing publicity that Daniel Burnham was able to generate for the World’s Fair.

I’ve grown up in these examples, and I want to make that experience relevant. I’m really excited to build this Detroit project into something – my intuition tells me that helping Detroit will ultimately be my life’s great work.

More to come…

Detroit is the future of urban gardening, and will be the hub of the green movement.

Check out this great article from 2007 in Harper’s – it does a great job of explaining the cultural context to understand Detroit’s place in the past, present, and future of America.

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