The Garden: A Model for Change

I highly recommend watching Scott Hamilton Kennedy's documentary The Garden. This film brilliantly illustrates the following concrete realities as they are experienced by oppressed communities within the United States:

  1. It shows how the existing power structure is poorly suited to serving the interests of oppressed peoples.
  2. It shows how the existing power structure works extremely well at serving the interests of the owning-class.
  3. It shows how the existing power structure is bolstered by White supremacy.

In other words, this documentary is a sad testament to the dominance of a capitalist, White supremacist power structure masquerading as a democracy.

But it's not all negative. The South Central Farmers overcome some incredible odds and demonstrate through their living example that a different world is possible. After all, more than a decade of collectively cultivating 14 acres of vibrant, nourishing plant life in the concrete sea of L.A.'s most infamous ghetto has a great deal of meaning and significance that cannot easily be bulldozed out of existence.

Lessons From the Garden

I'm personally inspired by this film to think in new ways about what we can do to reverse and transform the process of privatization that is currently increasing the deprivation experienced by oppressed communities. I'm better able to envision a movement working to transform the existing power structure so that new institutions are put in place to facilitate the de-privatization of land and redistributing it back to the landless for an equitable distribution of the Earth's resources. Of course, such movements are already underway around the world, the most obvious being Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra – the Landless Workers' Movement in Brazil.

This is not even a new concept for the vegan movement. The American Vegan Society has said that veganism includes an equitable distribution of the Earth's resources. The vegan-based Movement for Compassionate Living talks about promoting "a land-based society where as much of our food and resources as possible are produced locally." And in her book Why Vegan: The Ethics of Eating & the Need for Change, Kath Clement says:

It is in fact the ghastly pseudo-logic of economics which has produced starvation in a world of plenty. Surely we need to bring human and environmental factors into the equation. Our true resources lie not in gold bullion and "future markets" but in the richness of the land and the skill of the people.

Indeed, in contrast to a model based on markets and consumerism, I believe it is models like that represented by the South Central Farmers and their community garden – models based on land and the collective skills of people – with which the vegan movement can best align our ideals. Let's take the seeds The Garden provides us and use them to grow a world of new possibilities.