Growing Power

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I think it is becoming more and more obvious that the way we live our lives isn’t sustainable in the long run, at the level of the individual as well as the level of society. On the one hand, we are running ourselves dry trying to make more money to buy more stuff to feel better about the fact that life has become about making more money. On the other hand, we are all aware of how, at the current rate of consumption, we are going through the earth’s natural resources like Cookie Monster through a batch of cookies.

The main obstacle is that we have lived like this for so long, we are a) very comfortable in it, and b) we can’t really see ourselves living in any other way.

Which is why articles like these are great – because they demonstrate that by a minor adjustment of the way we live, we can make a huge difference in the way we function.

From the August 2009 issue of O magazine, written by Karen Cullotta: Growing power: Milwaukee’s Will Allen is on a mission: to raise affordable fresh food for people in the inner city.

For urban farmer Will Allen, unearthing a clump of loamy dirt laced with a tangle of baby worms is a moment to be cherished. “This is the most fertile soil on Earth,” says Allen, 60, holding out his wriggling treasure on a recent Sunday at Growing Power, the three-acre nonprofit farm he established in 1995 in Milwaukee. Allen, a 2008 winner of a MacArthur Fellowship, and his team of 35 full-time employees and 1’000 volunteers use sustainable agricultural practices to grow 159 kinds of fruits, vegetables, and edible flowers. (…) Allen is at the forefront of a burgeoning movement to replace huge industrialized food systems with smaller sustainable agricultural practices. (…) In a recent essay (, Allen writes: ‘It will be an irony, certainly, but a sweet one, if millions of African-Americans whose grandparents left the farms of the South for the factories of the North, only to see those factories close, should now find fulfillment in learning once again to live close to the soil and to the food it gives to all of us.’” Check out the full article here and check out Mr. Allen’s blog here.

And you thought O magazine was only about girly stuff. Pfsht.

Where does this lead me? Well, this isn’t the first piece that I read about rethinking the way we live, but somehow, it’s the one that had the most effect on me. I think it has to do with the fact that it’s about such an essential part of life – i.e. food. For if everything in the world were to fall apart, if we have food, shelter and heat – however basic it might be – we can survive.

And, to push the argument further, surviving in such conditions doesn’t mean we aren’t going to be able to live. I have the inkling it would be quite the contrary; we would rediscover simple joys that the cycle of work-buy-work more-buy more has taken away from our lives.

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