Fans of Bill Moyers – and I’m one – were treated on this week’s "Journal" to interviews with Robert Bly and Grace Lee Boggs. Bly is great but Boggs was a total revelation to me. Now 92, she seems more like 52 and is still fighting the good fight. Civil rights, labor, women’s rights, environmental justice, whatever needs attention. Am I the only one who feels lazy and selfish around people like Boggs?
Boggs talked about the three features of American society most criticized by Martin Luther King – racism, consumerism and militarism – and lamented that these causes have been pretty dormant ever since. And just look at our culture now, for crissakes! (Okay, that’s my language as I was cheering her on.)
"What should we do?", Moyers asked.
"Do something local, do something real, however small." Well, like what? Like what one-time basketball player Will Allen is doing. After a decade of unhappiness in the corporate world, this son of a Maryland farmer returned to his roots. He invested everything he had, buying the last working farm in Milwaukee, building 5 greenhouses, and getting busy growing "healthy food for the community."
In 2004 he merged with the nonprofit Growing Power, which looks from its website to be a pretty amazing bunch of folk. Already they’ve taught farming and food processing to 100,000 students and helped launch at least 25 urban gardens. They say they’re growing not just food, but communities. Right on!
It looks like Growing Power is currently doing its revolutionary work in Milwaukee and Chicago but they have hopes and plans for spreading urban farming to as many cities as possible. (Okay, DC, are we ready?)
But back to Moyers chatting with Grace Lee Boggs. She thinks Will Allen’s work is a big deal and that it illustrates that "we need to have a different way of relating to time and to history and to the earth."
"And a garden does that for you?
"Yes, a garden does all sorts of things. It helps young people relate to the earth in a different way, relate to their elders in a different way, and think of time in a different way."
Readers, I think she’s onto us.