Kirstin Miller 
Member since Nov 21, 2009


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Re: “You Don't Know Jack

My last post to this comments section -

Village Bottoms' Farms work parties

http://www.flickr.com/photos/34218654@N08/…

Trip to Growing Power in 2/09 to learn aquaponics/micro green growing method

http://picasaweb.google.com/nomadder/Growi…

Recent Open House and Neighborhood Tour, 10/28/09

http://www.flickr.com/photos/11217210@N08/…

Black Dot Artists at West Coast Green 2009

http://www.flickr.com/photos/11217210@N08/…

Village Bottoms Cultural District Plan

http://www.blurb.com/books/954466

Posted by Kirstin Miller on 11/23/2009 at 2:46 PM

Re: “You Don't Know Jack

I think it is you who you are missing the point, which again, is that the article, based on inconclusive evidence about a separate issue, has put an entire grassroots community effort on trial in the newspaper, condemning their projects as failures without them having had a chance to defend themselves or tell their side of the story. And once again, the facts. Both the house and cafe are internet hotspots in West Oakland. Lots of people knew the password. People access the internet from those hotspots at all hours. It wasn't just one person who was upset about the CDBG ruling. A lot of people were working on the project or knew about it and felt let down. Nobody is condoning the hateful email, it was wrong. But the fact is that more than just one person could have done it and more than just one person had motive. It is you and your friends who, based on your own suspicions, have first arrived at a verdict and then tried and convicted that person in the newspaper and drug an entire grassroots community effort through the mud. So we do hear you loud and clear on this point. If you and your friends make up your mind that someone crossed you, you will go after that person and their community to teach them a lesson.

Posted by Kirstin Miller on 11/23/2009 at 10:24 AM

Re: “You Don't Know Jack

My nonprofit organization, Ecocity Builders, was a partner on the Village Bottoms Farms CDBG RFP. The proposal was finalized after members from both the Village Bottoms and Ecocity Builders spent time in Milwaukee studying urban farming and aquaponics together with MacArthur Foundation "Genius Grant" awardee Will Allen and his organization, Growing Power. Allen is the nation's leading expert on low cost aquaponics, a method of growing fish and greens affordably on brownfield sites in a closed loop, stacked system.

The intent was (and still is) to launch a prototype urban farm and aquaponics system on a former scrapyard in the Lower Bottoms, working under the coaching and technical assistance of Growing Power and Mo Betta Foods. The funding from the CDBG would have allowed the community to build out the farm this year, hire locals to start running it part time, and set up a marketing program to get the produce into the hands of neighborhood families by 2010. After the Farm was up and running it would mostly sustain itself though revenues from the sale of produce and income from training programs, as does the nonprofit Growing Power in Milwaukee. It would also (and still aspires to) become a West Coast training center for Growing Power's aquaponics systems and methodology, allowing the community to pass on the knowledge on to a wide range of other interested parties on the West Coast. In partnership with the Village Bottoms neighborhood, we were in the process of securing a Regional Operations Training Center (ROTC) agreement with Growing Power pending the successful outcome of the RFP to the CDBG.

The Village Bottoms didn't get any CDBG support, as everyone now knows. But the neighborhood is certainly not giving up. They have advanced the project as best they can: to date, the farm compost system is up and running. The community has built the first aquaponics systems, they however need to get the greenhouse finished before they can add fish to the tank. Local businesses are supplying the resource streams for the compost: waste coffee grounds, brewery waste, sawdust and wood chips, food scraps. Community volunteers are there every day working on the project. Their vision is to eventually expand farther down the street where one day a much larger urban farming enterprise could start providing more fresh and healthy food to the community while creating jobs and food security in the neighborhood.

Like the other nonprofit you mention Mr. Raphael, Ecocity Builders also has a multi year track record. We have been working with community groups, local governments and developers since 1992. Some of our projects, going back also to our earlier organization, Urban Ecology, have included, in Berkeley, the Milvia Slow Street, the Cordornices Creek Daylighting Project, the Gaia Building redesign in consultation for developer Patrick Kennedy, and the current Center Street Plaza Proposal. We are active and long time supporters of higher density, walkable, centers-oriented development, efficient public transit, and restoration and revitalization of natural systems in the city for increased health of people and nature. We will continue to support the Village Bottoms efforts and partner with the VB Neighborhood Association and the Black Dot Artists -- an organization who, by the way, also has a multi year track record of successful community work in the Bay Area, including educational programming, arts and music events, and culturally specific business and community development initiatives.

Perhaps, like the author of the article, you will conclude that these kinds of ambitions: neighborhood stabilization, local economic development, community long range planning, local job creation, and cultural and environmental sustainability are laughable and continued fair game for your derisive comments and cynicism. If so, so be it. In the meantime, the work that you find distasteful will continue on and perhaps one day even you will be able to enjoy a locally grown meal and a first rate poetry reading or musical event in a thriving Village Bottoms Cultural District, where the people that have been there are staying there.

Posted by Kirstin Miller on 11/21/2009 at 9:07 PM

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