This is an audio piece produced by J.R. Vallery (Audio is at the bottom).
A background interview with Duane Deterville of the Village Bottoms Cultural District originally published by the SF Bay View. The text of this piece also first published at the SF Bay View newspaper.
With the economic depression setting in and the effects of global warming being seen all over the planet, people are having to find ways to employ themselves as well as create cost effective healthy, earth friendly alternatives to expensive fast food and cheap GMO (genetically modified organism) products.
Marcel Diallo, a longtime Oakland community activist and cultural worker turned real estate tycoon, thinks that he has one of the answers, the Village Bottoms Farm in West Oakland. Earlier this year, the short-lived appointment of Van Jones of the Oakland-based Ella Baker Center by the Obama administration to be the “environmental czar” brought the spotlight of the environmental movement to Oakland.
West Oakland, maligned as a crime-ridden inner-city neighborhood, was the first stop in Oakland for most Black families who moved to the Bay Area chasing World War II jobs. This report veers off the beaten path, examining not the typical environmental non-profit that comes in from the outside purportedly to help the community, but a home-grown organization helping a community, not one that it has socially, politically and financially invaded, but one that it has grown with over a decade. The Village Bottoms Farm is “for us, by us.”
This is an insider’s look, from within the Black community, at a massive project that will employ people as well as make a community without a supermarket healthier, with the fish and produce that they will produce right there in West Oakland where it is sold.
By looking at how this plan sits with the City of Oakland’s 10-year plan for the particular area of West Oakland where the farm is located, I want to change the way many of the consumers of these reports look at people from this low income, impoverished, crime-ridden neighborhood, by opening up avenues for people inside and outside of this community to work together to make this exciting “green” project a success.Marcel Diallo's Village Bottoms Farm is reconnecting the people with the land, enabling them to thrive by growing their own food to feed their families.
How will Marcel’s vision, which is inspired by the work of MacArthur Genius Award winner Will Allen, work? Who will it employ? What does it take to accomplish a feat of this magnitude? What has the response of city government been? What has been the response of the surrounding community?
What are some of the obstacles facing the Village Bottoms Farm? And who are some of the people and organizations that are collaborating with the Village Bottoms Farm to make it a reality? Will this farm change the way that Oakland residents see land, food and their ability to grow food?
How is this new “green consciousness” affecting low income crime-ridden neighborhoods like West Oakland? Listen, learn and be inspired by a neighborhood pulling together to determine its own destiny.
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