Saturday, August 3, 2013

Social Justice Saturday: Food Deserts and Public Space

Yesterday I read about a battle going on in Los Angeles (my hometown).  One individual, Abbie Zands, planted a vegetable garden to feed hungry people, bring the community together, and educate his children.  He was told to cease and desist.  Then two years ago Ron Finley planted a community garden on a strip of dirt owned by the city.  This garden is located in an area that is a food dessert which means the residents don't have access to good, healthy food - typically the main source of food is mini-marts that carry junk food.  However, the city has decided the garden is illegal and has ordered that the garden be destroyed.  Finley points out that Los Angeles should be a beacon of innovation.  He also laments the waste of resources used to maintain green strips of lawn when people are hungry and that public resources should be used to benefit the public.  Zands has refused to remove his garden and is scheduled to appear in court next week.

I learned of this issue on the blog Root Simple and the authors asked that readers spread the word because "my hometown government needs some international ridicule."  I agree.  

You can read a Los Angeles Times article about this issue here or listen to a radio program here.  This is the offending garden that the city feels might be "dangerous" because people could trip over a plant:
Meanwhile, according to the Los Angeles Times reporter Steve Lopez, there are sidewalks in the city that are in such terrible disrepair that they truly are dangerous, and have been for decades.  Yet the city leaders have chosen to focus on poor individuals trying to improve their community.  

1 comment:

Teresa Evangeline said...

In the documentary, "Escape from Suburbia," it includes the story of a group of local folks who grew a beautiful garden on what I believe was a vacant lot in Los Angeles. When it was almost ready to harvest, the city brought in bulldozers and just destroyed it while the people could only watch in utter emotional devastation. These are the things that I cannot understand...