Category Archives: food

Phog Walks Detroit

I have put out a Facebook invite for an incredible walk taking place in Detroit.
Bob Goldsmith of Detroit Tour Connections is hosting the two-hour tour.
The tour will be in the area of Cass Corridor…a richly interesting space, which will lead us to the Dally in the Alley festival.

Here’s the details of the walk, according to Bob:
“I think we should meet at the main branch of theDetroit Public Library. The address is 5201 Woodward. Let’s meet at the rear (west) entrance, which is on Cass. People can park on Cass, or on Kirby. “Midtown” is a pretty large area of Detroit that includes the Cass Corridor, Brush Park, the Detroit Medical Center, the large campus of WSU, and the Cultural Center area.

We’re mostly going to tour the Cultural Center area. Our two hour tour will include: Hecker mansion and other homes from the late 1800s; the DPL, DIA, Park-Shelton and Maccabees Bldgs from the 1920s; the Historical Museum; the Detroit Science Center; the Charles H. Wright Museum; the Scarab Club; the College for Creative Studies; and a few of the buildings on WSU’s campus.

The Dally has a website — http://www.dallyinthealley.com. It includes a map and directions … but the best bet is probably to mapquest 5201 Woodward if we are going to meet at the main branch of the Detroit Public Library. People can take I-75 north to Warren, and then take Warren west to Woodward or to Cass,
or they can just take Woodward from downtown Detroit to the Cultural Center area.”

We will meet initially at Phog Lounge at 9:45am. We will leave by 10am on our way to the Detroit Public Library. If you want to come, you must e-mail me at phoglounge@gmail.com or message me on Facebook (Tom Lucier). If you can drive…good…if you can’t, we still have room in some cars heading over. And you need your Passport to attend.

THIS SATURDAY!!! We already have over 20 people coming, so there will be tons of opportunities to make friends from Windsor along with the endless opportunities to meet your American reflections during the walk. I think it’s going to be an important first step in creating a very important community that is almost non-existent…the cross-border cultural community.

Personally, I feel that this is a KEY and CRUCIAL event for community leaders to be a part of, in order to initialize, strengthen, and solidify our relationships and understanding of our American brethren.
If you find yourself to be a leader here in Windsor, I really think it’s a good time to start thinking about sharing your strengths with people across the way, who know little or nothing about this community of artists, musicians, and doers.

Local food, local business, and how you can get mad.

picture-54It was a breath of fresh air to read Rino’s recent post about local support, and how frustrating it can be when it’s being used as a buzzword instead of a genuine way of doing business.

He also started a new blog for his business, Black Kettle Bistro, which he’s using as a soapbox for all things related to the business, and community in general. You should be checking it out anyway.

It’s tough a a business to do truly local business without some sort of infrastructure of locality being fostered by other business owners. Yes, there’s a paradox. Chicken or the egg.

Rino sounds like he’s more than willing to investigate where we can spend our money, as business owners, in the local economy, keeping our money here, avoiding the chains, rewarding our neighbours’ efforts to keep money within the community. We need more of this.

I encourage you to click on the link in the first sentence of this post to read Rino’s rant about local food, and the hypocrisy of myopic “buy local cars” sentiments by people who couldn’t find a local business in a phone book.

I know that the point is to be positive and move forward…but often, from the ground-level (the business-owner point of view) the awakening often begins from a spark of anger, feeling disrespected and forgotten. The concentration of that vitriol toward education of others, and varied business practice is the best we can do for now, without a strong, convenient local-business (food particularly) infrastructure.

Windsor Star reject

Okay, this is something I wrote for the Star.
I wrote it last week in the hopes that it would bring to light the group FedUp! They’re Windsor’s Community Gardening Network.
They had a WICKED veggie chili cook-off at the Windsor Workers Action Centre this Thursday that went by. The chili was so dynamic and different! Espresso veggie chili, raw (uncooked) veggie chili, blonde-with-mangoes veggie chili, and other wonderful tasting chili was showcased.
AND Jhoan won a raffle prize! Here’s a picture of her victory sticker! So awesome! These things, as posters, are selling for $500 right now.
photo-37

Here’s the story that was late for the Monday paper. I just didn’t think to write it early enough, but I wanted to share it nonetheless.

FedUp!
By Tom Lucier

I have almost no idea where my food comes from. If I said that 75 years ago, people would think I was insane. Today, most people are clueless of not only what they put in their mouths, but where it was grown.

FedUp! Windsor’s Community Gardening Network is on the opposite end of this knowledge spectrum. They are part of a locavore movement, bringing together local food growers, gardeners, and those concerned about food-health.

According to co-creator of FedUp!, Maya Ruggles, the group has four mandates, “To strengthen the local food system…to start gardens collectively and democratically…to reclaim the urban landscape (to start gardens)…and to re-skill people in all the things going into local food production and consumption.”

This enormous uphill project is remarkably appealing because it looks to remind Windsor-folk of just how verdant this area’s land can be. I was scratching my head as to why I have to buy a tomato from California (4800 kilometers away) when Heinz, located in the tomato capital of Canada (Leamington) is exactly 48 kilometers away from my front door.

FedUp! seeks to ratify these incongruent arrangements in several ways. But the group is young, and small. “Right now it’s totally volunteer run,” said Ruggles. FedUp! is two and a half years old, operating on a very small budget while donations, especially from OPIRG (Windsor’s Ontario Public Interest Research Group) have been instrumental in keeping the group afloat.

FedUp! is most concerned about getting members, who can sit on committees. Volunteers are needed on an event-to-event basis, which will have a higher demand in this new year as they begin hosting more and more events

Currently, the group hosts movie nights, potlucks, creates gardens for places including the Citizens Environment Alliance, Ecohouse, and Iris House, and hosts workshops on composting, urban foraging, and cook-off competitions.

Currently, there’s a mapping project on the horizon which aims to, “map out un-harvested sources of food…fruit trees that aren’t harvested, or edible bushes,” said Ruggles. They hope to map un-harvested edibles on public and private land.
Ruggles added, “The next step would be to coordinate people…to actually do the harvesting and distribute the food, or use it in some way.”

The mapping project, which would be immense, could also help network gardeners and locavores. Another positive spin-off, according to Ruggles, would be, “connecting people that garden who don’t have land with people who do have land that don’t garden it.”

Judging by my gardening woes, my wife and I will both be paying more attention to this group’s happenings. We’re similarly fed up with getting food from places we’ve never visited when we’re sitting on underused, underappreciated, concrete-covered land when the food that could sustain us is waiting to be grown in our own backyards.

NIMBY on CJAM for January 13th, 2009

picture-71Adam and I had a great show today.
I had to record my interview very last minute (yesterday), and edit it very late last night.
Maya Ruggles from FedUp Windsor Community Gardening, came to Phog last night so I could interview her, as she had knee surgery this morning, when I might have been able to do a phone interview. She was game for a phone interview, from home, no less than two hours after her surgery, but having had two knee surgeries (including something very similar to her procedure today) there is no way I would expect ANYONE to talk to me for 10 minutes after that gruesomeness.

The piece was maybe one of the best I’ve done since Adam and I started recording Not In My Backyard. I just got a real sense of groundbreaking, up-and-coming buzz around the work that Maya and FedUp is doing. It was great to talk with her and to get a greater appreciation for what they’ve done and for what lies ahead. I think I see some volunteering in Jhoan’s and my future with FedUp.

Adam interviewed Chris Mangin of Artcite over the phone, and discussed Art’s Birthday. No, not the dude, Art…but art, the expression. It’s having its 1,000,046th birthday this year, and is being celebrated at Phog Lounge. During the interview, I was surprised to learn that The Situationists (Socialist Parisian artists in the 60s) had a hand in how this event is celebrated. For those of you paying extra-close attention, The Situationists were the “originators” of psychogeography, something I’ve been involved in locally a bit, and would often travel through Paris with a map of London, TRYING to get lost in order to see the city from different eyes.

If you missed the show and you want to listen, go OVER HERE!!

Green Shift in Detroit?

picture-5I listen to Detroit Today (on WDET 101.9FM) most mornings. It’s right in my wheelhouse between my writing hour and my Phog band-booking hour.
Today, from the time I turned on the stereo, Quinn Klinefelter was interviewing Rick Bowers. The City of Detroit has created its first office of Energy and Sustainability. Rick Bowers is the new chief of that project.

I was audibly laughing in my living room (even being stuffed-up) because they were talking about bringing green collar jobs to Detroit, and how incredibly attractive the City of Detroit is to people wanting to make these changes. I laughed because their conversation consisted of precisely the bits I was able to cram into my little Windsor Star article the other day.

And for some reason, I doubt that Quinn Klinefelter will get the responses I got on the Windsor Star website such as:

We need to abolish the WTO and NAFTA. Then we can start a green industry. The way China keeps its regulations illegally low compared to us makes it so all manufacturing goes there. E-waste goes there, so why wouldn’t “green collar” jobs? We are overlooking the structural problems in our country and think that environmentalism will solve it all when it has nothing to do with it. The bankers control everything with their fractional reserve banking.

or

To Tom: Manufacturing will never stay here because labor can be done cheaper in China. What we need is to setup recycling plants here to recycle e-waste, but right now that stuff goes to China. We have to take care of the financial structural imbalances (China’s keeping their currency/labor/enviro laws lower than ours) before we dream of setting up a green industry. Wake up Tom. We do not buy your humanist agenda to depopulate the city of Windsor thru scaling down.

or

Global warming is a fraud. Tens of thousands of scientists signed the oregon declaration to prove it. The earth goes thru cold and hot spells and this is normal. Water vapor is more of a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide is, but you know why they chose carbon? Because you breathe it! Eventually they will tax life itself if we get a carbon tax. Don’t be an extremist, please.

or

The green concept is based on putting the economy first, like to building a park to save it (instead of just letting it be.) By that (foolish) definition, that won’t work after the “big 3” leave. Ironically though, the air will be cleaner, and the poor will still be poor.

I mean, these comments are completely welcomed, as they get conversations started, but I have an extremely hard time getting into the mind-space of these people. I mean, when you hear about people wanting to bring green collar jobs to Windsor or Detroit, how can you think of China? Green industry jobs (installing solar panels, cleaning up toxic spills, landscaping/urban gardening, organic farmers, tidal/wind/solar energy farm technicians, etc.) are grassroots in design. Green thought is local thought. If a green energy push is made, China is the last place people are looking to go IF (big if) they have an infrastructure and a willing local government to implement these kinds of objectives.

Sure they make TONS of solar panels in China. No one here has made enough of a push to lure in these companies. Bitterfeld Germany certainly has, and look at them!

I think people find an issue they have a feeling about, and then they try to connect any given topic or story to their agenda, and then they harp on it at every chance. They have a pre-formed view of anything “green” and when they see it pop up, they go into their mantra about NAFTA, China, or what-have-you. You can’t please everyone, I get it, but to go off on a tangent about the WTO and NAFTA, when what I’ve written is clearly about is self-sustainability using local people to create LOCAL solutions…People are so funny!

I thought it was funny that this discussion was happening on WDET, which for some Star readers, might be a “more legitimate source” than some kid on The Scene page. I just wish that more Windsorites were dialed-in to this movement, which is not as hidden and unknown as it once was in the past. What can I do to make this clearer? Deliver the New York Times to every house in the city for free for a week so they can see how many of these positive changes are happening…written by the most reputable news source I can think of?
Who knows?

To hear more about this idea of greening the crappier parts of the country…the hurting urban spaces…see Majora Carter’s TED Talk here

But beware naysayers!!! There are NEW IDEAS on this website! Aaaaahhhhhhhhh!
By the way, this is one of the best websites I have ever visited.

Barry Furlonger, David Dubois: This week’s NIMBY

picture-44Well, we recorded another show, and again it felt as though Adam and I are finding our timing. It seems to be getting smoother and smoother with each show. Again, we produce/host NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) on CJAM.

We both remarked at how much we enjoy producing and airing the show, to the extent that we want to carry on this project as far as possible.

This week, Adam interviewed David Dubois of the band The Locusts Have No King. Dave has also been a massively proficient singer/songwriter for quite some time, and this interview was centred around the release of a new full length CD due out in January. The bits I heard on the show today were fantastic!

Me…I interviewed Barry Furlonger, executive director of The Downtown Mission. My interview with Barry was MUCH longer than the edited version on the show, which left a lot of usable, viable content on the digital cutting-room floor. So, I will first post the archived version of today’s Not In My Backyard, and then I will post the full, unedited interview I did with Barry for those of you who want to know/hear more about the Downtown Mission.

Thanks to all those who listened to the show live today!

Here’s the link to the extended interview with Barry Furlonger of The Downtown Mission!

Here’s the link to today’s NIMBY!

Coincidence

picture-43Not many weeks ago, with the Big Walk, I became aware of a guy from Windsor named Shawn Micallef. You see, I knew he existed beforehand, because I saw him regularly at Phog with some of my current patrons/friends.

What I did not know was that he was heavily involved in some amazing projects, including pshycogeography, Spacing Magazine (Associate Editor), and Murmur. Murmur being the most outstandingly wonderful story-telling concept I heard about when I was 20 or 21.

But Spacing magazine was something being tossed at me (conceptually) by several people. Some knew Shawn was involved, and others had no idea who Shawn was, but they knew Spacing Magazine. I was being referred to this magazine, because surely if I was interested in taking a crazy-long walk, I was a fan of the things this magazine stood for. Here’s what their website says:

“Public space is at the heart of democracy. It’s where people interact, teach, learn, participate, and protest.

But environmental degradation, commercial self-interest, and infrastructure neglect have come to dominate our cities’ streets. Fortunately, imaginative and passionate city-dwellers worldwide — and in Toronto in particular — appreciate the endless possibilities that cities can offer. They are resisting the co-option of their communities through random acts of beauty and intellect.

Inspired by these actions, we launched Spacing in December 2003 to cover the numerous political, cultural, and social issues affecting our lives in the public realm. We want the magazine to be an integral, independent, and unique voice that brings to life the joys and obstacles surrounding Toronto’s public spaces.

This city is a special place — we’re excited by its people and its neighbourhoods, its sidewalks and its graffiti. Spacing is here to help our readers understand and take ownership of Toronto’s urban landscape.”

Fast forward a bit, to when Chris Holt tells me that he has a pile of these magazines at his house.

“I can bring ’em to you if you want ’em,” he said. So I was totally revved about finally seeing this magazine, and secondarily, putting it out for my customers to consume at Phog. Maybe we get a little leakage from the pages of this magazine about CARING about your city and DOING things rather than harping, bitching, and whining. We’ll see in due time.

So I began reading the mags, but damn-near every article is fascinating, and I know it will take a while to get through these babies. I did, however find an article less than 6 hours after writing the blog post about the Downtown Mission and the possibility of them having their own organic garden on municipal land. (By the way, I got a ton of comments on this post form people who are musicians etc., who I know for their music primarily, but who are doing this VERY thing in other parts of the county…teaching food education through hands-on participation, an THEN donating food to food banks! Getting the word out there is amazing. The results of outreach can really open your eyes.)

The article I found in Spacing read like a question and answer, with the first question and answer giving me all the convincing I needed to decide whether it’s possible for The Downtown Mission to do this kind of project. Interview by Matthew Hague.

Nick Saul is the Executive Director of The Stop Community Food Centre, an organization in the Davenport West neighbourhood whose range of services include a food bank, workshops, and community kitchens…

Spacing: What are the opportunities that exist within the city to produce more locally grown, nutritious food?

Saul: I am a big believer that we should take every green space we have and turn it into food production. I think we should be growing food in our backyards, in our front yards, on our balconies. The Stop has an 8000-square-foot garden at Earlscourt Park where we grow about 3000 pounds of organic produce that comes back into our many programs, and it’s an exciting example of what you can do with green space in the city. Parks aren’t simply there to walk in and smell the flowers; you can actually turn some of that land into food production, and support our communities with healthy food.

Well holy crap.

Need I print more?