Letter from the Zone: Planting the Seeds of Power
By Anthony Lopez, Executive Director, Zone 126
These days, when I think of something as “community-grown” I tend to think of food grown in community gardens. Call it “community or home-grown,” it simply means “from within the community or ‘organic’.” And just like organic food, it’s good for you but sometimes the cosmetics of imperfect produce are not very appetizing. Don’t believe me? Look at the pageant of produce on display at your local supermarket. The point is not so much how it looks, but that it is good for you.
Zone 126’s inception is also community-grown and as ironic to how this story started, it was seed-funded and nurtured from money made by one of Astoria’s own—Thomas Elmezzi, husband to Jeanne, and inventor of the formula for Pepsi-Cola, and whose bottling plant was located in Long Island City—also home-grown but I’m not quite sure how good it is for you (soda, that is).
Another example of a community-grown activity and always good for the citizenry is engagement in public life. Whether it’s in public schools, public libraries, community centers or public housing, these places are anchors in the community seabed where collective action takes root. It’s time to shine the spotlight and amplify the voices of homeboys and girls, men and women and elders in the town halls of the 21st century community commons.
Let’s begin by having authentic dialogue around community-grown and led initiatives between those who govern and those who are governed within the Zone.
The public institutions that govern our lives in education, health, housing and law enforcement owe the end users of these services the opportunity to be lifted up by these services and not encumbered or victimized from them. Let’s start by making it easier for community-grown folk—and the organizations that advocate on their behalf—to have a place at the table as equal partners.
You cannot have freedom without equality or a commitment to a democracy without growing people. It’s nutritious to the soul of collective impact and definitely good for us all. Interested in taking part in creating community-grown solutions?
Please join us.
Here’s how — if you are a decision-maker in a non-profit, small business, school or, if you are a resident, young person or elder: