I know I was hard on Wisconsin recently. I had no intention of being unfair to the people that are there that do care and do actively work to make the community better. Those folks are up against the world sometimes and they are really trying to move that damn place ahead. My hats are off to them.
I also don’t think the whole state should be dismissed as “crazy Tea Party flyover country.” It has a ton to offer, both in natural wonders and in really fucking cool organizations doing amazing things. I find myself constantly bringing this up in my defense of my former state. So I decided to put this series in the regular blog rotation. Presenting: “Wisconsin Wonders.” Each post I’ll briefly mention something cool that the rest of the country should take note on.
For my first installment, I’ll ease folks in. Growing Power, or at least its founder, Will Allen, is probably something of which most well-informed people are aware. Heck, I picked this to start with because Will was on Colbert last night.
I also love that at almost every single urban farming or food justice event I go to in San Francisco, Growing Power comes up. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy that I’ve been there. Just tonight, at the CUESA event I attended on the new book Breaking the Concrete: Building an Urban Farm Revival, it was name-checked.
It first came on my radar when we filmed a Southeastern Wisconsin Transit commercial there with one of our frequent riders who volunteered there. I was awed that such a place existed in Milwaukee and in a “bad” neighborhood. But sure enough, there was a working farm, engaging an oft-marginalized community in the midst of a food desert and innovating with year-round farming techniques in a freezing climate.
Of course, as soon as I was aware of it, I started seeing GP everywhere. I was glad to return a few times over the years and see the farm’s growth. The aquaponics and thermal energy systems elicit the same excitement as a really cool elementary school science field trip. While I’m happy I see news of it in my new home, it still doesn’t change the fact that I would KILL for their sunflower sprouts and microgreens right now. So delicious.