INTERVIEW// Eric Rodriguez

Eric Rodriguez

photo provided by E. Rodriguez

Let’s Build Garden City!β€˜s huge citywide workshop seriesΒ How to Make A Million While Selling Your Crops in the Hood is the gift that keeps giving! Here’s our Q&A with Urban Canopy co-founder & farmer Eric Rodriguez! Stay tuned for more gem-filled interviewsΒ with farmers in your area! See you next Spring ^_^

What are you up to in 2020?

I’m going to be homestead gardening in Florida until March. We’re really excited about planting fruit trees and getting avocados. I saw avocados that were like THIS big and shaped like a zucchini!

Image result for long neck avocado

It’d be great to get people to come see the horses, too.

IMAN (Inner-City Muslim Action Network) is gonna be opening up a kitchen [in Chicago] that’s an education space for the community to come in and learn how we cook the stuff that we’re growing at the gardens & offered at the markets. Even some of the stuff that’s offered at the corner stores that people might not even see or know was there.

Tell us about IMAN’s Green ReEntry Program? It’s for people coming out of incarceration?

Yeah and then they go on a track to either carpentry, electrical work, or heating venting & air-conditioning. They pick a track and they’re able to have 8-12 months of immersed hands-on stuff. With soft-skill learning days- so they can learn how to cook and make their own breakfast, lunch, &, dinner for them and their families.

So hopefully that kitchen gets going by the summertime.

When did you start doing agricultural work?

My very first project was working at the Plant Chicago. In that warehouse space [aka Bubbly Dynamics] they were building aquaponics systems and I was on my way out of UIC (University of Illinois at Chicago). For my senior design class we went to the Plant to try to scope out projects and we found out they were doing this vertical wall that they wanted to grow, like lettuce & leafy greens out of.

And then I got connected to the Urban Canopy, one of the businesses that rented space out of the Plant. When I first started we were doing like 3 little farmer’s markets and had 10 compost club members.

What’s some advice you have for students starting out as a professional in the agriculture industry?

A lot of the training I got was through the Urban Canopy, little by little. I learned the value of writing things down. And trying to gather as much information as possible so that next year when we’re in the same situation we’re not like ‘What did we do last year? I think we had a good plan but what was it…?’

Because I got to spend 5 years there and see it grow, when I was leaving we had like a THOUSAND compost club members. We had like a hundred CSA members, we were doing like 15 farmer’s markets.

Do you have any other words of encouragement for someone looking for a service learning project to do?

This is a new time we have opportunity to grow, literally & metaphorically. Young people might see it as the biggest employer [in their neighborhood] is selling drugs…but there’s big employers in food, too. Who doesn’t eat food? People are pulling back on supporting bigger chains and supporting local projects.

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INTERVIEW// +

How To... photo

+, via #supportstudentgardens

Let’s Build Garden City!β€˜s huge citywide workshop seriesΒ How to Make A Million While Selling Your Crops in the Hood is the gift that keeps giving! Here’s our Q&A with LBGC! founder & rapper +! Stay tuned for more gem-filled interviews with farmers in your area! See you next Spring ^_^

THE Q&A

Who are you?

+, aka Plus Sign.

What’s some advice you have for students starting out as a professional in the agriculture industry?

Hustle with the intensity of a famous rapper…and also relax & play with the intensity of one!

What are some local resources you think students should know about?

Of course everything in our resource library…and our community partners like Grow Op Chicago in Logan Square and the Breathing Room Space in the Back of the Yards neighborhood can show you a lot about organic collaboration. Advocates for Urban Agriculture has a huge community of people around it, too (AUA listserv). And Milan Anderson mentioned the Chicago Environmental Network. They seem really helpful!

Do you have any words of encouragement for someone just looking for a fun service learning project to do?

It’s really really exciting and beautiful to give life! And it doesn’t cost a lot but you can learn about any topic you want through it: from black history, to science, to health, to math. It saves lives and makes the world around you more healthy and connected in every way.

What’s the secret to students treating each other right?

Patience & active listening. Freedom from fear.

Anything else you want to talk about?

I’m excited to hit the streets and party on behalf of student gardens this year! Follow @letsbuildgardencity on IG to know when we’re gonna be out!

Traveling Party!

 

Can we share your social media?

 

Yes, please! I’m @nearfutureplus on IG & Twitter.

 

 


 

RSVP & donate to support new student gardens in 2020! 🌻

HOW TO BE A SUPERHERO vol. 3 is now available

LBGC! Strategy Guide (Volume 3)

STUDENTS! ONLYΒ CLICKΒ IF YOU’RE READY FOR THE ADVENTURE OF A LIFETIME

OLD ESSAY// God’s Plan is #nomoneynoborders

“God’s Plan” is a song by Canadian musician Drake from his EP Scary Hours.”God’s Plan” became the 29th song in history to debut at number one on the US Billboard Hot 100, making it Drake’s fourth US number one, and second as a lead artist. It also debuted at number one in Canada,and atop the UK Singles Chart on January 26, 2018, giving Drake his second number-one single as lead artist there after “One Dance” (2016). The song also broke first-day streaming records on both Apple Music and Spotify. It is the most influential song in the world right now!

Submitted by +


1. Life Does Not Transcend Money & Borders
🎞#NowPlaying:
2. Freedom Transcends Money & Borders
🎞#NowPlaying:

3. Art Transcends Money & Borders
🎞#NowPlaying:

4. Believing in Yourself Transcends Money & Borders
🎞#NowPlaying:

5. The Savior Transcends Money & Borders
🎞#NowPlaying:

6. Partying Transcends Money & Borders
🎞#NowPlaying:

7. Love Transcends Money & Borders
🎞#NowPlaying:

8. Utopia Transcends Money & Borders
🎞#NowPlaying:

9. Hip-Hop Transcends Money & Borders
🎞#NowPlaying:

10. Future Transcends Money & Borders
🎞#NowPlaying:

OLD ESSAY// The Matrix is #nomoneynoborders

The Matrix is a 1999 science fiction action film written and directed by The Wachowskis (credited as The Wachowski Brothers) and starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, and Joe Pantoliano. It depicts a dystopian future in which reality as perceived by most humans is actually a simulated reality called “the Matrix”, created by sentient machines to subdue the human population, while their bodies’ heat and electrical activity are used as an energy source. Computer programmer Neo learns this truth and is drawn into a rebellion against the machines, which involves other people who have been freed from the “dream world.” It is the most influential film of our time!

Submitted by +


1. Life Does Not Transcend Money & Borders

🎞#NowPlaying:

😎 Personal: Watching the opening of The Matrix: Revolutions, I couldn’t help but feel directly represented in my struggle to produce change for the Trainman so I can get back to fighting for the truth about money and borders. The programs Neo converse with obviously represent the entire families and communities that are likewise (but much more horrifically) stranded in our system. I live outside my city now, supported by father and partner and a small circle of very close friends. As Neo’s own family fights through Hell to help him out, The Wachowski filmmaking team give us a moment of peace, of eye-to-eyeness, and open their hearts unabashedly to the globe. This sequence used to feel a little superfluous and ponderous in its construction but that was before I truly understood that the symbolism used is much more naked, empathetic, and urgent.


2. Freedom Transcends Money & Borders

🎞#NowPlaying:
πŸ”Ž#Factual: “I’m going to show these people a world without you. A world without rules or control, without borders or boundaries. Where we go from there I leave up to you.”
🌏 #Actionable: How to Be A Superhero!


3. Art Transcends Money & Borders

🎞#NowPlaying:

πŸ”Ž#Factual: The Matrix is a project that includes a range of characters and types designed to transcend the segregation seen in places like The Matrix‘s real world setting Chicago.
πŸ”§What Does It Have? What Does It Need?: The Matrix needs for its brown and differently abled players to be as empowered and lovely as the two white kung-fu master protagonists.


4. Believing in Yourself Transcends Money & Borders
🎞#NowPlaying:

πŸ”Ž#Factual: At each moment of crushing near-defeat the only way any of the characters in The Matrix Trilogy make any headway is by believing in their self. Our heroes make a choice to love as the very nature of reality is deconstructed and hanging in the balance, and that is how their world eventually transcends restriction.


5. The Savior Transcends Money & Borders
🎞#NowPlaying:

πŸ”Ž#Factual: Supported by everyday people, Neo is ritualistically sacrificed several times by the forces of this system, mirroring the myth of Jesus Christ.
πŸ”§What Does It Have? What Does It Need?: It needs for everyone to be provided for so Neo & Trinity can just chill and enjoy their love.
😎 Personal: Same.

6. Partying Transcends Money & Borders
🎞#NowPlaying:
πŸ”Ž#Factual: In The Matrix: Reloaded the most joyful moment is a Utopian cave rave full of love, life, and hope. As the forces trying to enslave us dig closer and closer, we dance!
πŸ”§What Does It Have? What Does It Need?: IT NEEDS A LONGER RUNTIME.
🌏#Actionable: Shoutout to the Utopia Ball!


7. Love Transcends Money & Borders
🎞#NowPlaying:
πŸ”Ž#Factual: Several romantic partnerships are key in The Matrix films, notwithstanding the intense familial love our protagonists exhibit for each other.
πŸ”§What Does It Have? What Does It Need?: “Cookies need love like everything does.” 😎 Personal: I love my bae and my homies and together we will make it right!

8. Utopia Transcends Money & Borders
🎞#NowPlaying:

πŸ”Ž#Factual:
In The Matrix Trilogy, Zion, the unplugged human haven, is shown without any discernible currency~ certainly nothing resembling money as it was used at the start of the 21st century.

πŸ”§What Does It Have? What Does It Need?:

If life was asking a question with its production of and investment in The Matrix, The Matrix: Reloaded answers the question as soon as it intercuts a diverse, classless Zion rejoicing together while Neo and Trinity make love.

9. Hip-Hop Transcends Money & Borders
🎞#NowPlaying:

πŸ”Ž#Factual:
The first two films end with rapper Zach De La Rocha & his band Rage Against The Machine rallying against inequality. Later in The Matrix: Reloaded credits is a song by fellow hip-hop rockers P.O.D. imploring you to “unlock these secrets in me” and decode hidden messages. Put together this clearly just means that these films are acknowledging that in real life “the Matrix” is restricted access to space & resources that we wish art could rescue us from politically.
πŸ”§What Does It Have? What Does It Need?:
The people spoken for in these songs have righteous fury, shared culture, and love for each other but need housing, access to basic necessities and to not be targeted as dangerous or for slavery by the needs of maintaining the historical system of money and borders. P.O.D. need you to understand the meaning of the film The Matrix and use your powers to give a voice to the voiceless. “Do you see what I see? Do you hear what I hear?”
😎 Personal: Nu-metal made me a badass!


10. Future Transcends Money & Borders
🎞#NowPlaying:

πŸ”Ž#Factual: In 1999, The Matrix was a metaphor for our lives in the (post-)modern reality of inequality. Neo was supposed to have flown above that inequality at the end of the first film to destroy borders and global injustice. He didn’t, so in 2003, The Matrix: Reloaded & Revolutions would be looking ahead to the endgame of restricted access to space & resources.

πŸ”§What Does It Have? What Does It Need?: Millions of people anticipated the climax to Reloaded to provide an answer and herald a new global awakening. And when the Keymaker opens the Door of Light and The One enters…the films engage us in a recursive loop to be replayed out until the moment is right. Each time, the film tells the viewer to choose to forge ahead even when it seems like the systems holding up money and borders are too much, the genocide too complete. The Architect’s sequence visually references the fact that Neo is being viewed in a sequel to The Matrix, searching (again) for what the Matrix is and thus also anticipates a sense of our social media life via peeling layers of digital reality. Day after day, year after year, we return to these films needing something more to complete the mission. The only reason The Matrix films have not changed the world to the point of eradicating inequality is because art, other than religion, has never had power over money and borders. UNTIL NOW.

😎 Personal: Once upon a time, I was an avid re-watcher of The Matrix the same age as the little “Potential” telling Neo “There is no spoon, it is only your mind that bends.” I grew up with that in… mind. Watching it now, as an adult person with adult relationships and a curious consciousness I kept flexible, I am ready to finish the game!
🌏#Actionable: RSVP to support student gardens here!
~ @mtvxonews

ANNOUNCEMENT// The 10 Laws of #nomoneynoborders

#mtvxo logo

Read all 25 Laws of Pop Culture & learn more: tinyurl.com/LBGCsuperheroguide

 

#mtvXO is a utopian pop culture network & service learning platform. We partnered with Let’s Build Garden City! to bring you the 10 Laws of #nomoneynoborders and make it easy to share how something creates a free world! We focus on pop culture as the most powerful images, languages, and sounds expressed from all over the world and posit that its message is often literally censored from having the very impact we make it for. We are identifying our global human community’s TRUE demands, elevating them, and linking it all up to real life structures that build utopia.

These are the 10 Laws of #nomoneynoborders:

1. Life Does Not Transcend Money & Borders
2. Freedom Transcends Money & Borders
3. Art Transcends Money & Borders
4. Believing in Yourself Transcends Money & Borders
5. The Savior Transcends Money & Borders
6. Partying Transcends Money & Borders
7. Love Transcends Money & Borders
8. Utopia Transcends Money & Borders
9. Hip-Hop Transcends Money & Borders
10. Future Transcends Money & Borders

~*~*~*~

You can apply these laws (or your own!) at any time to anything.

Check out these sample posts where we use the following tools to explore a piece of art being #nomoneynoborders

🎞#NowPlaying: Clips, videos, or pictures illustrating the topic

πŸ”Ž #Factual: Objective descriptions related to how something fulfills a law (or three)

πŸ”§ What Does It Have? What Does It Need?: Can be broad or specific, fantastic or realistic. Ex. What does the protagonist of a movie lack materially and how does that intersect with the plot and what they are looking for emotionally?

😎 Personal: Super subjective but all-important level of analysis, how the writer is indivudually experiencing a piece of art and applying it to their own life

🌏 #Actionable: Ties the subject back into #mtvXO/Let’s Build Garden City! and using art & creativity to actively make a new world.

~*~*~*~*~

Got it? Let’s play!

 

ANNOUNCEMENT// The New STUDENT & COMMUNITY Guides Are Here!

 

HOW TO BE A SUPERHERO

Click here to find out everything you need to know ahead of the 2019-2020 school year! See you this weekend supporting student gardens at Pledge Day in Pullman/Roseland & Beverly/Morgan Park. PleaseΒ RSVP for the Garden City Back-to-School Parade on the 31st if you haven’t yet, too. πŸ™‚

 

love,

 

#lbgc2019 πŸ†