April 13th 2011
Growflint.org was launched in the fall of 2009 by the Ruth Mott Foundation’s outreach coordinator, Erin Caudell. Our intent was to connect you to many of the great events, inspiring people and awesome ideas that are moving Flint forward. Erin focused on emerging issues such as healthy food systems, eating locally and urban agriculture and she posted blogs from as far away as China and the Netherlands, where she studied everything from local food traditions to global progress in supplying healthy food to growing urban populations.
Many of you know Erin. She is a gifted horticulturist with two hands worth of green thumbs. She is passionate about urban living, locally-grown food and the joys of gardening. And she is tireless in her support for the development of sustainable communities – especially her beloved Flint. You’ll also occasionally find her shining in local theater productions. She is one very busy woman. As Erin has become more deeply involved in outreach work and community issues here, some of her other projects have had to be set aside. And so it was with this blog.
We loved Erin’s plans for growflint.org. All those people and events and ideas she planned to tell you about are still working and happening, and we want to continue to bring them to light. We also realized there are dozens of other community topics we want to address with you in this blog. So, with two green thumbs-up from Erin, I will take it from here.
I am Steve Wilson, and I returned to my hometown of Flint three years ago to become executive director of the Ruth Mott Foundation. I have the honor of being in the right place at exactly the right time, working with a caring and creative staff, and for a family foundation whose family members and founder have a long history of community stewardship.
The Ruth Mott Foundation grants about $6 million annually to support new ideas in this community. We also operate the Mott Family estate of Applewood, a place of beauty and learning and a model for responsible environmental practices. We do this with five values in mind: to inspire hope and pride, encourage community engagement, support collaboration, promote fairness and justice, and to establish a plan for continuous improvement.
I look forward to introducing you to many people in this town, including those who are quietly doing their special part as community builders. And Erin and others will weigh in from time to time.
Please join in this conversation. I look forward to hearing from you.
October 18th 2010
This weekend I’ve been in New Orleans at the Community Food Security Coalition Conference which has a focus of Food, Culture and Justice. Sessions have focused on food deserts, USDA marketing opportunities, food policy councils, organizing food movements, including youth in food work and many more. It’s exciting to hear how much the work in Flint is on the right track and in line with much of the work around the country and world. Food is such a connecting factor across issues of health, policy, equity of workers, urban and rural land planning and economic development. Conferences like these are fantastic opportunities to hear about innovative projects and be inspired by the passion of the people working so hard to make change in their communities.
October 1st 2010
One of the speakers at the Metropolitan agriculture summit was Carolyn Steel. Her talk about feeding cities was fascinating. Cities designed hundreds of years ago were designed to move food. In Flint and Detroit our cities were designed to move industrial goods. This different intention for design affects how we interact with food movement. See her TED talk at….
September 30th 2010
Yesterday groups from around the globe visited 7 sites in Amsterdam and Rotterdam. The learning journey I participated in visited a public housing site where a project called Beets and Blooms were introducing movable planting boxes and a high technology greenhouse that produces hydroponic tomatoes. Quite a paradox of experiences. Many themes being addressed in these rooms, urban and rural, policy and planning, social and entrepreneurial, space and context, production and quality. Giving lots of food for thought.
September 29th 2010
The Flint and Detroit Team arrived in Rotterdam to being immersed in preparing our presentations representing our cities. Preparing our ‘teaser’ power point presentations about our immediate region in Michigan presents challenges in relating to cities in Brazil, South Africa, India, England and Holland. In the Midwest we are not experiencing development pressures but instead we are in the wake of post industrial decline. We have a fragmented community along race and geographic lines in terms of rise of the suburbs as well as our cultural decline.
Flint spent a hundred years poisoning our water, soil and air and trying to approach industrialization. The maps we show of our current situation show where population has shifted. There is a need to encourage creativity and acknowledge where population left. The recreation of a community is developing under the pressure of decline. These are the questions that we are considering as communities………..
August 1st 2010
What does Maker Faire have to do with gardening? Do it yourself fans often make their own garden innovations for new ways string up pea plants to irrigation techniques. Actually I met Ronald Elliott from Elliott Energy Services (www.elliottenergy.ca) that created collapsible rain barrels. We talked about ways to create rain catchment on vacant lots. Also at the Faire was Local Dirt who had great stickers that said ‘I’m locally grown!’ that were seen everywhere all weekend. Local Dirt is a database of farms and producers and is a way for restaurants to order products directly from the farm. Also vending in the Detroit Handmade tent was Amanda Edmonds from Growing Hope in Ypsilanti who has an etsy store at Amepix.etsy.com which is where I got my great friend of urban chicken pin!
Obviously the do it yourself community has a little bit of everything!
July 29th 2010
I have always wanted to go to Maker Faire. As a professed DIY junkie I’ve made everything from duct tape wallets to keyboard tacks. What does this have to do with gardening or food? The same spirit of innovation is found in the creative culture as in the foodie world. The Handmade tent is next to the local food tent. The spirit of entrepreneurship is present throughout both movements. I’ll be speaking at the local food tent!
Visit the First MidWest Maker Faire this weekend! http://makerfaire.com/detroit/2010/
July 29th 2010
Genesee County residents are improving their health, reducing their weekly grocery bill and transforming their neighborhoods by creating urban gardens in both their own yards and on neighboring vacant lots.
The movement to utilize urban properties to produce food is growing nationally, and Genesee County is right in step. The second annual “Edible Flint Food Garden Tour” Thursday, August 12 will offer a close-up look at several of the innovative and inspiring food gardens developed in the Flint area.
Participants will be transported to the garden sites by bus. The tour is free and open to the public. Last year’s garden tour attracted more than 175 participants, so organizers of the tour added a second bus tour this year as well as a bicycle tour option.
Check-in and food for the tour will begin at 4:30pm at the Flint Farmers’ Market, 420 East Boulevard Drive. Buses and bicycles will depart at 5:30pm. Everyone on the tour will be given a light meal made from locally-produced delicacies.
Tour participants will meet local food producers, including some who are growing food year round and raising bees and chickens. They will also see, firsthand, how local residents of all ages are transforming community concerns, such as vacant land, into valuable neighborhood assets.
Immediately following the tour, members of Edible Flint will host an after-glow with live music and dessert at the Flint Farmers’ Market.
The entire evening is free, though participants must register in advance. There will be plenty of opportunity for participants to talk with others on the tour and with local growers. Donations will be accepted and will be used to support food gardening efforts in Flint.
To register for the bus or bike tour, contact Natalie Pruett by August 9, 2010 by calling 810-257-3088 ext. 541 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Edible Flint members include Applewood Initiative for Garden and Community, the Genesee County Land Bank, Keep Genesee County Beautiful, Michigan State University Extension, Salem Housing Community Development Corporation, plus other organizations, local gardeners and independent producers who work together to provide support to those growing food.
June 6th 2010
The weeds have emerged in the garden. All this rain means lots of pesky plants sprouting. As much as I try to prevent the possibility of weeding via mulch I still have failed to find the solution to keeping a garden weedless. I often get asked the name of weeds in the garden. This handy link still helps me when I forget. http://web1.msue.msu.edu/msue/iac/e1363/e1363.htm Try to pull the weeds before they flower to help stop them from setting seeds. I love to pull weeds the day after a rain it is the most satisfying time. Happy weeding!
May 3rd 2010
Genesee County is loaded with wonderful, capable people who are helping shape our communities in positive ways. The Ruth Mott Foundation is delighted that two of these special individuals, who have spent decades helping educate and inspire others, have accepted invitations to serve as trustees on the foundation’s governing board.
Gloria Coles was director of the Flint Public Library from 1984 to 2004, and recipient of the 1995 Community Service Award. After retiring, she worked with Libraries for the Future, a two-year Lifelong Learning project funded by Atlantic Philanthropies. The Gloria Coles Black Life and Literature Collection at the library was named in her honor.
Robert (Bobby) Pestronk’s work as health officer and director for the Genesee County Health Department from 1986 to 2008 earned him national recognition for thoughtful leadership and excellence in the administration of personal, community, behavioral and environmental health programs and in regulatory affairs. He now serves as executive director of the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), a Washington, D.C. based non-profit organization that works through the nation’s local health departments to ensure conditions that promote health and equity, combat disease, and improve the quality and length of all lives.
Gloria and Bobby join board members Harriet Kenworthy, Dolores Ennis and Lawrence Moon, also from Genesee County, and three members of the Mott Family. We look forward to working with them.