by Anthony Betori
You learn a lot in this program, about food systems, climate change, harvesting techniques and how to resist oppression. But let me break down the top five craziest things I’ve learned with my friends in this years Summer of Solutions in Chicago.
1) Hugelkultur is next-level, serious composting.
Hugelkultur, or the burial of branches in a big hole underground, allows for the quick breakdown of sturdy branches into beautiful, loving soil that will nourish our plants. We used this in part of our property reclamation project at the nursing home we partner with, cutting down tree branches to expand our growing area and recycling them to make a closed-circle system where nothing was wasted. And not only will it be delicious soil! Oh no my friend! It will also capture storm water, helping to handle water runoff that is becoming a major problem here in post-climate change Chicago.
Wow!!! A truly inspiring hole.
2) Dumpster diving is the dream.
Two of our program leaders decided to go dumpster diving this weekend to try to pick up some wasted food to help feed our huge program this summer. The result was the biggest and most beautiful dumpster find I’ve ever seen. Candy, juice, pounds and pounds of produce, sunscreen, cereal, and even a trash bag full of roses! We used the roses to turn our house into a Downton Abbey level bourgeois paradise, we did several workshops on cannings (I can make a damn good peach jam now, if I do say so myself!), and we use the sunscreen in our gardens (on us, not the plants) to keep our skin healthy in the sun. We watched Dive as a program to help get deeper into why dumpster diving is not only fun, but important to the revolution and safe in terms of health issues, and the result of that and the major dig this weekend is the founding of a Dumpster Dive Team, committed to finding ‘waste’ and repurposing it!
Joe, Ellie and I found amazing books, a bucket, and a lot of salvageable wood in this one!
3) Barack Obama thinks natural gas is clean energy.
We watched Barack Obama’s disastrous speech on climate ‘solutions’ on Tuesday as a program together. In this speech he referred to natural gas as clean energy, apparently forgetting that 1) it is not clean energy and 2) it is not *%&^#@ clean energy. I personally hold that Barack Obama is the worst president in history for not being a strong leader on climate issues at the time that leadership is most needed, and was happy to have a safe space to talk about these feelings after being so infuriated by his corporate, nonsense, band-aid speech. Guys, Barack Obama literally thinks natural gas is clean energy. Summer of Solutions is even more important than we thought.
4) Seed libraries are sexy.
We are in talks with Chicago seed librarian/activists (yes they exist and yes they are as sexy as they sound) to gain support for our own seed library here in Rogers Park. Seed libraries are a radical gesture for two major reasons. First, we reject the corporate-genetic war-mongering of Monsanto and its affiliated, evil companies. You cannot patent the Earth, she is our Mother! She is not yours! Second, by developing seed cultures in local regions, our seeds will be more resistant on an ORGANIC GENETIC level (WHAT!) to climate shifts as they happen in our area–drought, deluge, etc. The seeds will literally get used to droughts and rain storms as they happen in Chicago if we keep saving them from year to year and replanting with our own stock. I KNOW I AM FREAKING OUT TOO.
5) The revolution is now!
With the collapse of capitalism and the federal government less than three years away (my own opinion, does not reflect Grand Aspirations, LETS GO Chicago, or anyone else’s opinion), it is beautiful to be a part of the grassroots solutionary action that will make our neighborhoods not only resilient, but places of healing and community. We are expanding rapidly and with compassion. We are being noticed! We are making friends! And I can feel the reverberations in the earth of the love we are putting into this work, our gardens, ourselves, and each other. I am proud to be here, working with these people, harvesting these kale and raspberries. I am happy to be an urban forager. I am part of the revolution, and so are all of you! The revolution is nonviolent, anti-capitalist, interdependent, intersectional, a garden, and NOW!