The first time I met Ron Finley was in LA. I was speaking at an event, and there he was. There was an instance recognition between us, two unlikely candidates fighting for better food, and a friendship that started immediately.
He has many titles: Fashion Designer, The Renegade Gardener, Guerilla Gardener, Gangsta Gardener, Head Trouble Maker but most importantly Revolutionary.
He’s been a true friend in this work for a long time.
In 2010, he decided to take his health and the health of his community into his own hands and “Plant Some Shit,” turning a strip of city-owned land into a food oasis. After a citation, fine and eventual warrant for Finley’s arrest over the grass that he transformed into a food forest for his community, word spread quickly about the “Gangsta Gardener.”
With the help of his powerful 2013 Ted Talk and 2015 film “Can You Dig This,” his message that gardens are solutions to inner city health problems, gang violence and poverty has echoed around the world. The ringing of his words has given birth to urban communities across the globe coming together to grow their own food in areas that have none.
People from all walks of life have shown their support for Finley’s efforts: Alice Waters, Rainn Wilson, Penny Marshall, Carson Daley, Rachel Hunter and Robert Horry have reached out in solidarity, as well as statewide dignitaries including Mayors Aja Brown, Kevin Johnson and Councilman Herb Wesson.
Over the years, the Gangsta Garden has evolved into more than a symbol of healthy change for urban communities including an educational site, a propagation station for more edible landscapes and the formal headquarters for The Ron Finley Project (RFP). Furthermore, it has become the focus of study for local K-12 classrooms and universities worldwide including the renown institutions of MIT, Harvard and University of Southern California.
Currently, RFP is fighting for their headquarters; the very same location that ignited a good food revolution when Finley took back city land and planted the seeds to cultivate happy and healthy communities. After numerous attempts by the property owner for a loan modification with no avail, the land was sold to Strategic Acquisitions, Inc. in a foreclosure.
This company, Strategic Acquisitions Inc., has made their business out of buying up distressed assets, putting the squeeze on, then flipping them. They don’t care about the underlying assets or the children that are benefiting. They simply saw what Ron was doing, moved in in the most predatory way, and are now driving a stake through the heart of his work.
RFP has requested that Strategic Acquisitions allow them to continue operating from the location as to sustain the important work they are doing in the community. The only solution they have been offered is to purchase the property for $500,000, otherwise… they face eviction.
Finley took on city lawmakers in 2010 sparking a worldwide food justice revolution. Now the world needs to rally behind him!
If you have been touched by RFP or support access to healthy food for ALL communities please donate what you can and share widely.
RFP needs to raise $500,000 to #savethegangstagarden. More than that, he also needs help bringing attention to this real estate company, because they won’t stop here. They’ll move on to the next guy changing the world and milk him for another half million.
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