I GRO Mi Pueblo, With City Fresh and Hot Sauce Williams

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Wed, 07/09/2008 - 11:55.

For this week's I GRO EC With City Fresh meeting, evolving plans led us to my favorite Mexican restaurant in NEO, Mi Pueblo, in University Circle... a few blocks down Euclid Avenue from the Star Complex. City Fresh's Maurice Small brought a diverse team of young adults from across the region who are learning from Maurice about urban farming and providing fresh local food to the community. As such, much of our discussion focused in on the business and social opportunities urban farming offers young people like those sitting at the table.

Strong, young, willing and exhausted, Maurice's team of urban pioneers had been keeping a fast pace all day, concluding with a Fresh Stop just ended at Huron Road Hospital, and deserved some great food, but the lessons never stopped flowing. As Sudhir Kade, Bill MacDermott, Joe Stanley, Greg Williams and I joined their virtual classroom, Maurice's first question of me was to explain to his team what is planned for the old building they had just seen. As I went through the concept of the urban farming vocational school, urban redevelopment and entrepreneurship offerings of urban farming, these late high school and early college high-achievers all seemed already convinced something about urban farming offered opportunity to them, and they were thrilled to learn important skills that will be valuable in many ways throughout life, and to learn about food and healthy living. And all were clearly inspired by Maurice, who asked the class to define any challenging words and concepts brought up during discussions, like Libertarian, and LEED... what none of the students knew went in Maurice's little notebook for future testing!

Prior to this meeting, I spoke with a number of young cleveland residents about whether they would have an interest to learn urban farming and make that a lifelong career, and I found there is significant interest. I've been pleased to find that the inner city, struggling, working young men I know, who live in the neighborhoods planned for redevelopment through farming and renovation, want to participate in that redevelopment, and stay where they live and prosper through new economy opportunity, like urban farming. Maurice's team erased any doubts.

It was important we were joined by Hot Sauce Williams family member Greg Williams, who is clearly excited to see a great future life come together for the significant Star/Hough Bakeries complex his family has maintained since the demise of Hough Bakeries, and for the surrounding neighborhood, where the Williams live and support the local economy. Greg also buys lots of food, for the Hot Sauce Williams restaurant chain and packaged products, and business is expanding as food costs are rising... he certainly sees the value of urban farming to grow what he needs to feed the community... "all the cabbage, onions, greens and sweet potatoes you may grow, please".

Through a series of quick, focused, open, diverse I GRO EC meetings of City Fresh and others in the community, we have formed a simple allignment of interests positioned to drive significant, innovative social change, and included at the tables all levels of stakeholders necessary for success, and done so with the actual people necessary for success, in the actual places being changed.

Over the next week there will be significant progress organizing the underlying structure to support this broad a range of social change initiatives, and next Tuesday, July 15, from 6-7 PM, we intend to hold another I GRO EC With City Fresh planning session at the Star/Hough Bakeries complex, and Brown's Market, to proceed forward. Please feel free to join us, if you are interested to support this intiiative in any way... please RSVP here or to norm [at] realneo [dot] us


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I love how

Maurice appears in two places at once in your header image. Very appropriate.