RE: Federal Funding Cuts to Urban Resource Partnership Initiative
Emily et al.:
Rather than do this separately, why don't we all brainstorm on this one on
Lets see if we can start a little consensus thing here - a policy caucus in
cyberspace on how to deal with this challenge.
My two cents:
Putting on my imaginary Republican thinking cap to figure out an a approach
to this quintissentially political problem( no it doesn't have a pair of
mouse ears and a propeller and no, I'm not being flippant - politics
requires your putting your self in the position of your partners in the
1) If any groups in the US qualify as what Bush pere's speechwriter called
"a thousand points of light" it's our network of ACGA and ad hoc urban
community gardens and allied food programs. We do it, on a largely volunteer
basis - like volunteer fire departments - all over the country.
2) The Republicans are anti-crime. We're anti-crime and pro-crime
prevention. They like low cost neighborhood beautification, so do we. They
like grassroots support of "charitable" organizations without much
governmental support - we've been doing this for years. They want the money
to stay in the people's hands and not be taxed away - we like the idea of
sustainable low cost urban environments with minimal government involvement.
They are "pro-life" - the last time I looked, nobody ever performed an
abortion in a community garden. Family values? How many of our gardens have
children's story telling, children's gardening plots, neighborhood
composting, large group pot luck dinners, seasonal hay rides and pumpkin
growing contests? Hello, Willard Scott, you know we're out here? Against
welfare dependency and the alienation of urban life? Look at how we're
working to contribute to sustainable urban agriculture, growing plots for
food banks, introducing asphalt jungle residents like myself to their
connection to the cycle of the seasons, promoting cooperation with each
other in gardens, working towards a common good.
What's here in what we do that's in conflict with Republican ideas of open
space management? Rather than a bloated central burocracy siting open space
with a Presidential hand, i.e. "Here's Alaska, you're a national park!", we
take derelict land and through the sweat of our brows create open space
where the neighborhood is willing to site and support them, economically.
So, we write some letters, state our arguments, send messages to Republican
legislators, send picture's of our gardens to Mrs. Bush and suggest that
they can use them as great spaces for photo ops.
There's a great West Indian expression: "When you lose the dog, grab the
cat." Elephants are less wieldy than jackasses, but consider the volume of
manure for the compost heap.
There's always work to do.
The empty lots that we appropriate through squatting or semi-legally when we
get some kind of lease agreement are what old style traditional Catholics
used to call, "approximate occasions of sin" before we move into them:
fenceless, used for drinking and drugging parties, depositing garbage, all
kinds dead mammals - eyesores, magnets for illegal activity. We clean 'em
up, get rid of the rubble and urban detrius, put up a fence, a coupla
benches, grow stuff, do neighborhood meetings, do story telling for kids,
provide a safe haven for seniors to quietly recreate themselves, and most
importantly...create small self governing groups who educate themselves in
participatory democracy in their self-governing steering committees.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Emily Maxwell [SMTP:email@example.com]
> Sent: Thursday, February 22, 2001 10:27 AM
> To: firstname.lastname@example.org
> Subject: [cg] Federal Funding Cuts to Urban Resource Partnership
> Greetings all,
> I'm writing with some sad, frustrating, and hopefully mobilizing news.
> new administration has issued a directive to terminate the Urban Resource
> Partnership Initiative (URP) and cut funding countrywide. The directive
> being interpreted by local authorities quite differently.
> Here in Philadelphia several organizations working on urban
> greening/community gardening projects have been notified that we must
> work on our grant activities under the Natural Resource Conservation
> though we are mid-funding cycle. I have also talked to the URP
> in NYC where it also appears that there are serious ramifications.
> As this has emerged extremely recently, I apologize for not having a
> complete update on the issue. What I can say is that in our organization
> alone we have commitments to 2 public schools and countless community
> members whose lives are directly impacted by this maneuver. Furthermore,
> URP funding is directed at inner-city communities. So, communities facing
> many challenges that organized to obtain this funding to begin with are
> having to fight yet again to reverse this decision or find new resources.
> Please contact the USDA and NRCS (both locally and federally) to express
> your opinion on this matter. The Forest Service also provides URP funding
> and can be contacted, though here in Philly that has not been cut at this
> point (which does not mean it is not being cut in your area). You can
> contact URP coordinators in your area to find out what is happening
> I have attached a list of locales with URP projects and the contact person
> for the area.
> This issue is both timely and relevant to the community gardening movement
> and the environmental movement as a whole. Please feel free to contact me
> directly with thoughts and questions. Together we are very strong.
> Thank you for your time and help!
> --- Emily Maxwell
> Greening Coordinator
> United Communities Southeast Philadelphia
> 2029 South 8th Street
> Philadelphia, PA 19148
> 215-467-8700 x27
> << File: URP Contacts.url >>
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