Day One: The journey begins.
Passing through the time space continuum.
In search of Jengu Restorative Healing.
Look for me.
Six hours forward.
See you in a day…
Change of Consciousness – On the precipice of gentrification. FREE THE LAND.
Tonight I was speaking with a sisterfriend mentor and while updating her on the project, I finally digested the meaning of FREE THE LAND.
Before tonight, in other conversations about the land development, urban farm project, two other people have responded with the phrase FREE THE LAND.
Over the last 30 days I have delved deep into the process. This is the deal.
As per the historic record, for over fifty years during the 20th century, this was the familial home of a woman painter, printmaker. My mind can barely imagine the various scenes which transpired in this space to explain what has happened over the course of 20 years, that marks the time between 2016 and when the artisan matriarch left this dwelling to make her transition to join the ancestors. Just yesterday I saw a mid century photograph of the living room…
Yet amid the rubble are remnants of grandeur. Back to nature, this grand pile of debris has been colonized by opossum. For our purposes, we will work from the presumption that wildlife habitats benefit the ecological balance of the urban ruin environment.
Hindsight is 20/20
So was it false bravado that enticed me to accept this project? Location, history, value, eccentricity: All of the above?
Daydreaming I imagine that the real estate advertisement that lured me to this project would read:
“Expand Your Horizons. Affordable tear down envisioned strictly as land acquisition, purposed for urban farm development initiative. Structural architectural characteristics include…”
Open Masonry Porch; Corinthian columns; high pitch front gable; single frame, triple 6 light double sash windows;
Brick masonry fireplace;
Built in 1930 the brick work has withstood fire, rain, wind. For as long as neighbors can recall, this house has been in despair.
Steadily collapsing, a mountain of debris threatening to spill across the property line. FREE THE LAND.
Brick masonry pier supports;
With scaffold technology and careful demolition clean up removal, the brick masonry piers, perhaps the columns and a few other things could be salvaged.
The demolition process…many site visits.
Estimates: this project requires several. Hat, boots and other apparel considerations are required for site visits, because the location is raw. The bids are all over the board and are complimented by my angst ridden responses, including involuntary consideration sessions in the wee hours of the night. At this moment, the dental night guard is required. A restful night sleep would include a nifty dream sequence, where our project is adopted by an Architecture or Engineering professor as the perfect field study research project, tailor made for their favorite class or TA.
Fun, Fun, Fun.
Lattice wall insulation; 5 panel oak doors; crystal door knobs;
Extensive exposure to temperature extremes, wind and rain.
15 light oak wood french door; glass and hinges intact; Blue skies;
1930s 6 light lead glass window frame;
After getting cited by COA code enforcement in February, this architectural beauty has commanded my love, attention, requiring that become intimately acquaintanced with a sundry of associated COA agencies and bureaus. Inspections, applications, waivers, permits, learning so much, navigating the City Hall Shuffle.
Site surveys, neighbors, on the ground, in the community, there is so much illegal dumping. Arduous and complex, this is a massive clean up project. Afterward we plant out the grounds to restore ph balance, cleanse and encourage a healthy soil revolution.
73% rubble. Every rain episode increases the rate of collapse. Moments spent at the site have stirred a lot of emotions. Paramount is sadness.
The day that I met our border neighbor, after introducing myself and explaining our plans, I apologized for the condition of the eyesore. Documenting the survey with my camera, it was important for my spirit to acknowledge and recognize this dilemma. Eyesore implies a visual assault or imposition upon one’s sensibilities. In this case physical encroachment threatens the surrounding environment further in the wake of every rain event. Although we are not the cause of this debacle, it saddens me, that in the U.S., Black folk can live next door to a hill of construction debris. Unfortunately this is not the only instance of this type of environmental travesty happening on the urban landscape.
Message left in wet cement.
Visioning in the Westside of Atlanta.
Sustainability, good health and solidarity.
On the precipice of gentrification.
Changing blight into light, one step at a time.
FREE THE LAND.
Please share freely.
December 2015 – January 2016 – Winter Update
It rained the majority of the fall. I mean RAINED. A lot in September, all of October and most of November. Short ebbs in the precipitation provided occasional relief. We made the best of the reprieves to host project site visits that welcomed many visitors. Most memorable were the two MFA graduate women film directors, traveling from Northwestern University to conduct investigative documentary thesis research on the significance and legacy of land ownership for African Diaspora farmers in the 21 century. Then on the last weekend in November, stepping out on faith, we set out seeds in hopes that the ground would hold enough heat in December to germinate and sprout thriving collards, kale and winter lettuce seedlings.
This is a chronicle of a few lifecycle moments of an intown farm land project, located in the Proctor Creek Watershed.
Creekside observations – Unknown disturbances challenge the water quality in Proctor Creek.
After record rainfall, the creek bed was full.
Change is afoot.
Citizen engagement. Chattahoochee Riverkeepers were notified and the next day water samples were taken from both Burbank and Arcadia and Boone Blvd at Quality Plaza overlooks.
Year End Review
Collard, Kale, Lettuce seedlings have sprouted and are thriving. Nguzo Saba. Give Thanks.
The Prize Choy flower is in bloom. New seeds are on the horizon.
Bountiful abundance. The future is bright.
On a sunny Saturday – 3 weeks later
Nature’s Plan – SURPRISE!
Insight is required to visualize useful practices, which inspire residents to design necessary improvements for local communities in the midst of change and gentrification.
Surrender to the radical embrace of change.
New Year Assessment
Holding space for development, growth, protection and righteous change.
Growth on the horizon.
Homegrown measures require clean up and changes in perspective.
A great deal of work lies ahead.
New Year Forecast
Grassroots Storm Water Management Initiatives develop on the horizon.
Mother to Daughter to Sister
Kneeling at the Altar of Education – Which ever way that you can get it!
This is image is one in a photography series that chronicles my participation in SAH Field Study Fellowship.
Six years ago this Lady taught me ALL that I needed to Know about Alabama and the Civil Rights Movement. This Elder Teacher told the story of when the white mob circled the church one evening, resulting in the parishioners spending the night barricaded in the sanctuary, while Dr. King had to call Washington to the then U.S. Secretary of the State, Robt. Kennedy to request an immediate intervention. Finally early the next morning the National Guard dispersed the white mob.
Below is the link for sketchbook essay that documents one day of the 2009 Society of Architectural Historians (SAH) Field Study Tour – Civil Rights Monuments, lead by Dell Upton.
Yes Civil Rights – We are still working on it.
Over the past few months I have attended all kinds of community meetings, gatherings, functions. You know, participate in the rooms to see who is there and where. Kind of simple but not really, because I travel. So I miss one I attend another, the work has taken us into many different districts. It is interesting. At times distasteful, and other moments inspiring. The bear business is in effect. Some times you eat the bear, then other times the bear gets a piece of you.
At one community meeting during the ‘crime report” presenters included personal names, sentences and excessive crowing about the severity for crimes as simple as breaking into cars. Sad.
Just have to write about this today, because I do not like it. Disrespectful, my intention was not to leave my house to hear that. Why is money for education and the arts limited, yet funding for prisons is plentiful? Where is the equity? No curses allowed.
July 23, 2015 – This is where we stand.
Working with what we have, making it look nice. Flowers bring color, beauty, tranquila, it’s important, especially in hard pressed places. Take your pick, there are hundreds of underserved communities that can be found around America in Anytown USA.
Where we work is in Georgia, Atlanta, Westside Atlanta, representing Hunter Hills.
Impressive mid twentieth century architectural and cultural history. This very street was once the feature causeway in African American Atlanta, documented nationally in Ebony magazine.
Many moons ago.
Reconciliation between then and now.
Participation in the renaissance.
Been telling the kids, maintain your humanity, Hold on to your joy, it’s a powerful form of resistance.
Been telling the kids, maintain your humanity, Hold on to your joy, it’s a powerful form of resistance. A glimpse of our waterway. This is where we have worked this summer.
Oh dear one, precious fresh water we beg of your forgiveness. Accept our offerings of reverence, love, gratitude, protection, praise. Finding peace despite the state of the nation. #sandrabland #sayhername #blacklivesmatter
Change is the only constant.
The City Farm Initiative is moving along.
Slowly, Surely, One Plat, One Binder at a Time: Choking Out Jim Crow and the Restoration of Hunter Hills Cultural Legacy. This is a visionary quest. Our job is to transform blight into light. This is our pledge.
Here is the latest update on the property rehabilitation process.
We have been on a beautification bend. My inspiration started with a lone tiger lily, then accelerated after I attended an excellent Farm Camp workshop, into a full out beautification effort. But first more about Farm Camp.
June 11- 15, 2015 I traveled to Milwaukee to attend a highly recommended Farm Camp workshop. This was an extremely productive trip. Spur of the moment, flew into Chicago Midway via bargain rate on Southwest Airlines. Took the Amtrak Hiawatha line to Milwaukee. Met the most amazing FOLK in Milwaukee, and learned tons about the aquaponic growing methods, the urban farm movement and playback theatre techniques. And of course, the peace de resistance was the chance to listen to Will Allen and observe the Growing Power operational model in action and its influence on the Milwaukee Wisconsin, food marketplace.
Since the beginning of Growing Power in 1993, Will Allen and family has successfully found a way to naturally growth fresh food and fish, that provides the local region access to fresh locally grown food for 12 months of the year. Think about that. Wisconsin is cold 8 to 9 months annually, in this small section of the United States, an inner city food desert was eliminated, through the growing power operational model.
My participation in Farm Camp was exactly the inspiration that was need for us to begin the beautification process. The task was arduous, the ground was hard and the sun was hot. I heard that the term for our labor is called, breaking new ground. This is the process of working wild land and attempting to tame it, by creating order, with the use of ornamental horticulture to establish an appealing visual landscape where there was not one before.
Greatest thanks to the South Fulton Youth Landscaping Team, their willingness, attention and strength were the fuel that transformed our dream into a reality. We up cycled old tires, reused fallen tree limbs and old floorboards. Bought discounted plants on Saturday morning at a local big box hardware store and foraged in our favorite Goddess Garden to acquire the plantings. We stacked the stones found along the process an decorated the stone wall ledge with the new refurbished Earthscape Sculptures. Working with what we had, over the course of four weeks we have transformed a formally blighted lot into a visually appealing landscape.
The neighbors and community in our corner of Hunter Hills have been supportive and encouraging. It seems that we could not have been gifted a better place to develop, the City Farm Initiative. We are honored to work and serve in the spirit that originally developed the proud legacy our community.
July Season – Cancer Moon.
Today while putting the Blueberry guard fencing back together, I witnessed my graphic display of wildlife in action. You know survival of the fittest. Earlier this month I had an uncannily emotional encounter with a four foot long, life bearing king snake. This time the main players were hawk and squirrel.
From the earth to the sky. The snake, the squirrel, the hawk. Signs, symbols, messages and offerings delivered from nature.
Blueberries collected, arranged neatly in a pile. Slim pickings.
Standing in the aftermath. I stood in my place, looking off into yonder, recognizing a mirrored circumstance, that was all too familiar. Dumbstruck by the vastness of LIFE.
Feast of St. Cinnamon, June 26 – July 19, 2015. #21