Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Encouragement all around

I'm feeling hopeful about a lot of things these days despite the mess left by the Bush Administration. Maybe it's partly because of the Bush catastrophe that people have been taking matters into their own hands -- educating themselves about the environment, growing more of their own food, supporting local businesses, riding bicycles and public transportation, creating their own music, films, visual art, spoken word...
I like this trend!
Almost every day, I see something new that confirms this positive direction. Today, I came across a great video about the hip-hop band, Flobots, and their work with at-risk kids in Denver. Flobots' CD, Fight With Tools, is one of my very favorite releases of the last year. I hope they come back to play Austin in '09.
Just before the new year, I really enjoyed reading the following open letter to Barack Obama, written by two Peace Corps volunteers, who propose a "Hope Garden" at the White House and offer themselves to be the "First Farmers"...

President-Elect Barack Obama Kluczynski Federal Building
230 South Dearborn Street Chicago, IL 60604

Dear Farmer-in-Chief Obama,

Congratulations on your victory and welcome to your new home on Pennsylvania Ave. Knowing how much you love fresh vegetables, we'd like to help you tear up the lawn and plant an organic garden!
In the tradition of Eleanor Roosevelt's Victory Garden and inspired by Michael Pollan's vision in the New York Times Magazine, we humbly suggest planting a Hope Garden on the White House Lawn. In these days of
rising food prices, global climate change, and deteriorating health, the President's Hope Garden could grow as a model of sustainability for the nation and, indeed, the world. It's a model of a simple way to enhance food security while reducing our ecological footprint and improving our families' health with fresh local food.

We nominate ourselves to be the White House's "First Farmers." Here's our vision:

  • Serve fresh organic Hope Garden produce at State dinners and to the First Family, to lead by example and improve White House food "security";

  • Give tours of the Hope Garden to journalists, students, and other visitors as a means of educating the nation about healthy eating, organic techniques and the power of growing your own food;

  • Use the Hope Garden to support urban gardening initiatives in the D.C. area to show that eating local is possible for anyone anywhere;

  • Donate surplus Hope Garden produce to local food banks to feed those without gardens;
    Produce a variety of organic heirloom fruits and vegetables all year round, using cold frames and hoop houses.

We are Peace Corps Volunteers about to return home after three years of service in Paraguay, working to improve food security & nutrition, promoting gardening, and helping Paraguayans diversify their farms sustainably. We have studied these issues at the University of Wisconsin's Nelson Institute of Environmental Studies. More than just avid organic gardeners, we also have experience in science & environmental education, research, and program management. And, perhaps most importantly, we are filled with hope and excitement about working with you!

Sincerely, Justin Mog, Ph.D. & Amanda Fuller, M.S.

cc: Dale Haney, White House Grounds Superintendent

Amanda Fuller and Justin Mog just returned from three years of service as Agriculture and Environment volunteers in the Peace Corps. They left for Paraguay in 2005 after earning graduate degrees from the Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Letter posted on
Common Dreams on Dec. 29, 2008

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