Friday, December 4, 2009

Back to Basics

Have you ever thought of taking yourself, and even your family "off the grid"? Essentially planting yourself in a rural location far removed from cell towers, electrical towers . . . even water towers. And teaching yourself to live from the land to the extent possible. Well Brother Fred Carter and his family are doing just that in a rural township just outside of Chicago - Hopkins Park, and I had the pleasure of visiting them last week in my work with the Positive Anti-Crime Thrust (PACT).

The Black Oak Center for Renewable Sustainable Living is a living example of of how to make efficient use of our limited resources, and more importantly a place of community values and educational opportunity. The vision that guides their work:
Our vision is to create safe, healing spaces founded on the principles of environmental stewardship and social equality. A place where community can learn skills required to master sustainability to lead a successful transition to a post carbon world. From this, our communities, families, and children will be resilient. Hence, they will be fully capable of being lifeboats thriving during an energy descent.
They have been conducting retreats and hands-on educational experiences for children from Chicago, and have a curriculum that includes Sustainable Agriculture, Renewable Energy and Sustainable Building. In addition they have been instrumental in developing the African American Farmers Co-op, which supports farmers markets throughout Chicago.

One of the projects PACT is working on involves developing a fulfillment capacity for farmers markets that would provide sales and distribution jobs for ex-offenders. The fact is that the African American community suffers from a syndrome commonly referred to as "Food Deserts". This results when there are no opportunities to purchase fresh produce within a given geography (all Micky D's and Liquor stores). One partial solution to that problem is the development and support of farmers markets (my church, Trinity UCC began this year putting on a market every Saturday).

Please consider helping out Black Oaks with a donation this holiday season. It's a great opportunity to support an effort that is unique and forward thinking.

I'd love to hear what you think.


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