Monday, January 21, 2013

Urban Gardening for Justice

President Obama took the Oath of Office today, placing one hand on the Bible used by President Abraham Lincoln at his first inauguration, and the other on the Bible used by Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.

Given the 2009 inaugural snafu when Chief Justice Roberts and the President weren't on the same page, and including yesterday's Constitutionally-adherent ceremony, Obama will have been sworn in four times, all told. I congratulate him, and ask that he keep at the forefront his commitment to Reverend King's hard work.

While I'm enticed by the various online recipes proposed to honor MLK–chocolate pecan pie, crawfish etouffee by a Birmingham chef, and various soul food dishes–today, Odyssey (Mookie's) highlights micro-movements forward, beginning with our young people.

Eat GRUB started with four helping hands and a tiny seed. As students at Mandela High in Oakland, California, Salvador Mateo and Julio Madrigal wanted to eliminate community food deserts: areas where residents have more access to liquor stores and fast food chains than produce markets. So, with the help of Ashoka's Youth Ventures Dream It. Do It. Challenge, they built a raised-bed garden and planted ten trees on their school's campus. And then they got funded to do it elsewhere. With income from people who can afford to pay full price, they hope to donate to people who can't.

Hopefully, at the first Kid's State Dinner held at the White House last August, First Lady Obama had our East Bay entrepreneurs in mind, too. Young chefs are a creative inspiration. But, arguably, stakes are highest for our inner city farmers.

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