From Myrtle Thompson-Curtis and Wayne Curtis, below is the opening article to Feedom Freedom’s second issue of their newsletter. An additional article from this issue will be added weekly.
Feedom Freedom Growers
Beloved Community is the name Dr. Martin Luther King gave many years ago to a culturally rich, boundary crossing and diverse community. The beloved community that Dr. King spoke of back then still exists today and in fact, we are that community – raising our heads after being down for far too long as we begin to rebuild, one person, one house, one neighborhood at a time.
Our society today is onr of extremes: a society of instant gratification where the underdeveloped and unemployed are left feeling abandoned – cut off from the decision making process that rightfully belongs to them as citizens. But lawmakers and corporations don’t worry about such things. Their main priority is profit, even at the expense of human dignity and the world’s resources.
In the bible the Prophet Isaiah addressed the people at the end of the exile a generation of people abandoned and desolate. “They look upon a city destroyed by the empire, a city that needs to be rebuilt from the ground up.”
Does it sound like any city that you know – where the rich get richer, and the gets poorer?
We acknowledge the realization that we must create change for ourselves. Once we understand what our purpose is, and where we are going, we can learn from and draw upon the many great voices of the past and present.
Voices such as Grace Lee Boggs, an East side activist for the past 40 years and is still vigorously writing books and inciting transformation toward a more humanistic society. Dr. Huey P. Newton organized, educated and fed people, giving us the example of what it means to grow from a small grassroots group toa strong voice for the people; even influencing policy in the United States. Malcolm X was a boy from the streets and yet became one of the greatest influences to our society. His words still ring true today urging us to search for the truth without ceasing and to gain an understanding of who we are. And there are many more.
We at Manistique Garden on the south side of Jefferson enjoyed another great year of growing in 2010! The “Youth Growing Detroit” activities were informative and fun for the kids that participated and even offered them a chance to earn a small stipend for their efforts. The stipend money was an incentive for them to participate for the Garden tours and hands on learning workshops.
The highlight for the most of the kids was the opportunity to learn marketable skills by selling garden grown at a special section of the Eastern Market. The kids ranged from ages 2 to 18 years old and activities were designed and implemented for each age group. Food was quite often on the itinerary after the workday was done and they were all pretty ready to eat by then. And I can confirm that the strawberries were so very sweet and tasty as were the juicy Goldie tomatoes.
We are creating the circumstances in which we can help ourselves as a community.
We grow food as a revolutionary act of love for self and others, employing the resources that were put in place to sustain life: sun, earth, our own labor. We are working toward being that community built on love, joy and hope; that beloved community that Dr. King spoke of building. We are like the people the prophet Isaiah spoke of when he talked of a garden and marriage both growing and joining together.
As support from city officials decreases and food lines grow longer, we now rely on growing our own food and making our own work to enrich and empower ourselves, our families and our neighborhoods. We count on each and work together to build a strong and bonded community.
When we have no streetlights, we turn porch lights on and listen for potential problems, operating as each other’s eyes and ears. We are the beloved community. When faced with no street snow plowing, we shovel one extra walkway or we pitch in to have someone with heavy equipment do the whole block. Why? Because we are the beloved community. When businesses are not providing quality service we put pressure on them as a community and hold them accountable. We are the beloved community.
At Manistique Community Garden, the Feedom Freedom Grower’s find hope and purpose to practice spiritual principles, which include respecting the laws of nature, co-existing harmoniously with other and developing strategies to deal with situations as they arise. We are learning problem solving together and strive to incorporate humanistic practices in our dealings with each other.
We are fortunate to have a broad base of friends and support, from the neighborhood block club president to the community security persons that patrol the area and keeping a watchful eye on our streets.
Our goal is to take responsibility and adhere to the principle of the great commandment: love your neighbor as you love yourself.
Feedom Freedom Growers orchestrated a roundtable discussion last October. The event was a collaborative of students, neighbors, local community activists.
They gathered to counteract the negative vibes that surround Detroit with positive and creative new solutions to old problems. We plan to do the roundtable again.** If you feel you have a positive contribution to add to the conversation or would like to just listen in, please join us at the Hope Community Church January 15th 2011 at 11:00 AM. That date is Martin Luther King Day, and we will commemorate him by discussing his contributions and how they are still relevant today.
**The January roundtable discussion was incredibly successful. A reflection piece written by Gloria Lowe has been posted to this blog. More information will be available soon about Feedom Freedom’s next roundtable discussion in April.