Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Homeless Activists Go Organic And Feed An Entire Shelter With Rooftop Garden

Every activist has read the increasing number of stories where homelessness is being criminalized, as if simply being homeless isn’t punishment enough. However, there is a rising tide among all walks of life that is beginning to view homelessness in a very different light.

As a sinking economy and the criminal actions of the banking elite are leading many middle class, stable families into abject poverty, it is becoming much easier to identify with the less fortunate the closer their plight appears to be.  Defenders of the homeless are becoming much more vocal now. We have seen some amazing examples recently of people moved to help those in need through programs such as an artist who paints and sells portraits of the homeless and gives them the profits; a former homeless man who gives back to the homeless by selling book reviews and buying food to share; or the inspiring story of a community organizer who used his own faith to connect with those from other faiths in a common cause of feeding those in need.

We are even seeing people of conscience openly defying oppressive laws to draw a line in the sand that says: if it becomes illegal to help one another on our own terms, we simply have no freedom left to celebrate.

Feeding the homeless has also gone from the concept of a “handout” of money to allow people to buy whatever meager sustenance they can find, to realizing that if people are going to have any chance of turning their financial situation around, they must be physically and mentally fit to do so. A key  cornerstone to building oneself back up again is nutrition … and if it’s “free” nutrition, then all the better!

An organization in Atlanta is calling themselves Task Force For the Homeless and should be highlighted for their message and their tactics to restore dignity and prosperity to those who have fallen on hard times. They have chosen to combine two essential approaches to reverse the conditions which afflict the homeless the most: not having access to healthy food, and not being able to connect with others who are working in structured way to engage in practical solutions.

Enter the organic community rooftop garden.

homeless garden2

Residents of the homeless shelter are now engaged in community building while providing for themselves food that only costs what their own efforts naturally produce.

homeless gardenInstead of processed foods given through donation, their rooftop garden has 80 beds of the most diverse range of vegetables, fruits and herbs that can be produced on site.

Now, instead of waiting for their next meal, they have taken action to ensure that each and every day they are well fed and well nourished.

11149383_764086867044457_5483444979580093826_nBest of all, this group of homeless has now gained something that goes beyond even the food itself – the skills required to produce, manage, distribute and plan for the future – a future which too often exists as minute-by-minute sacrifice instead of days of abundance.

This article was originally published on Activist Post.

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Thalif Deen, IPS UN Bureau Chief, has been covering the United Nations since the late 1970s. A former deputy news editor of the Sri Lanka Daily News, he was a senior editorial writer on the daily Hong Kong Standard. He has been runner-up and cited twice for “excellence in U.N. reporting” at the annual awards presentation of the U.N. Correspondents Association (UNCA). In November 2012, he was on the IPS team which who won the prestigious gold award for reporting on the global environment-- and in 2013, for the second consecutive year, he shared the gold medal, this time with the Associated Press (AP), for his reporting on the humanitarian and development work of the United Nations. A former information officer at the U.N. Secretariat, and a one-time member of the Sri Lanka delegation to the General Assembly sessions, Deen is currently editor-in-chief of the IPS U.N. Terra Viva daily electronic newsletter, published since March 1993. Beginning with the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, he has covered virtually every major U.N. conference: on population, human rights, the environment, social and economic development, food security, humanitarian aid, nuclear disarmament, water, energy and education. A former military editor Middle East/Africa at Jane’s Information Group in the U.S, a columnist for the Sri Lanka Sunday Times and a longtime U.N. correspondent for Asiaweek, Hong Kong and Jane's Defence Weekly, London, he is a Fulbright scholar with a Master’s Degree in journalism from Columbia University, New York.
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