MetroFocus: April 29, 2021

A “Chasing the Dream” Special Report:

April is financial literacy month, a time when personal financial education is promoted across the country. And as lockdowns ease and the economy embarks on a road to recovery, it’s important to consider your personal finances and how to best position yourself for financial recovery and long term financial success.  So tonight, as part of our Chasing The Dream initiative, we’re taking a close look at your finances with film and tv star and financial literacy activist Hill Harper who is on a mission to help people gain positive financial momentum.

We tell the story of a groundbreaking urban farming initiative in Chester, New York called the Rise & Root Farm and introduce you to one of the four women co-founders who is reclaiming the power of farming. Tonight, Karen Washington discusses the seeds she’s been sowing since 1985 to grant New Yorkers of all ages and races, a more just and representative model of farming while providing abundant and nutritious food for their community.

 

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Chasing the Dream: Poverty and Opportunity in America is a multi-platform public media initiative that provides a deeper understanding of the impact of poverty on American society. Major funding for this initiative is provided by The JPB Foundation. Additional funding is provided by Ford Foundation.

TRANSCRIPT

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS' WITH RAFAEL P. ROMAN, JACK FORD AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND.

BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION AND BY -- JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER, JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD, CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY, JUDY AND JOSH WESTON, AND THE DR. ROBERT C.

AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION, THE JPB FOUNDATION.

> HI.

I'M JENNA FLANAGAN.

REGARDLESS OF YOUR FINANCIAL SITUATION, THE PANDEMIC LIKELY AFFECTED THE WAY YOU SPENT AND SAVED MONEY.

AS LOCKDOWNS BEGIN TO EASE AND THE ECONOMY BEGINS TO GET BACK TO NORMAL, IT'S IMPORTANT TO CONSIDER YOUR PERSONAL FINANCES AND HOW BEST TO POSITION YOURSELF FOR LONG-TERM FINANCIAL SUCCESS.

THERE'S NO BETTER TIME THAN NOW TO DO THAT, AS APRIL IS FINANCIAL LITERACY MONTH, A TIME WHEN WE PROMOTE FINANCIAL EDUCATION ACROSS THE COUNTRY.

AS PART OF OUR CHASING THE DREAM INITIATIVE, I'M JOINED NOW BY AWARD-WINNING ACTOR AND FINANCIAL LITERACY ACTIVIST HILL HARPER.

HILL'S GOING TO DISCUSS WHAT FINANCIAL LITERACY MEANS AND HOW IT CAN HELP YOU ACHIEVE YOUR FINANCIAL DREAMS.

WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

THANK YOU.

GREAT TO BE ON.

FIRST OFF, JUST THE TERM FINANCIAL LITERACY IS SOMETHING OF PERHAPS A MISNOMER TO A LOT OF PEOPLE, SO JUST GIVE US A DEFINITION OF WHAT THAT IS.

SURE.

FINANCIAL LITERACY IS LITERALLY THE START.

IT'S THE BEGINNING OF BEING INTENTIONAL AROUND TAKING CONTROL OF YOUR FINANCES AND ACTUALLY UNDERSTANDING MONEY.

THAT'S WHAT I TALK ABOUT.

AT THE END OF THE DAY, WE TEACH MATH K-12, BUT WE DON'T TEACH MONEY IN SCHOOL, FOR INSTANCE.

FINANCIAL LITERACY IS JUST THE BEGINNING TO BUILD FINANCIAL CAPACITY AND BE FINANCIALLY EMPOWERED.

THAT'S KIND OF THE LINE THAT I LIKE TO TALK ABOUT.

BUT YOU'VE GOT TO START WITH LEARNING FIRST.

THEN YOU LEARN SOMETHING AND YOU APPLY IT.

THAT'S WHAT IT'S ABOUT.

FINANCIAL LITERACY IS LEARNING ABOUT MONEY, LEARNING ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP TO MONEY AND HOW YOU USE THAT TOOL THAT IS MONEY IN EVERY ASPECT OF YOUR LIFE, YOUR FAMILY'S LIFE AND YOUR COMMUNITY.

SO THAT'S WHY THIS DISCUSSION IS SO IMPORTANT AND THAT'S WHY APRIL BEING FINANCIAL LITERACY MONTH IS CRITICAL, BECAUSE WE WANT TO HAVE THESE DISCUSSIONS.

OF COURSE.

AS YOU DISCUSSED THAT, IT'S ALMOST LIKE SOMETHING THAT SHOULD BE TAUGHT PERHAPS ALONG WITH MATH OR READING, IT'S NOT.

SO IT IS VERY MYSTIFIED AND SHROUDED AND UNCERTAINTY FOR A LOT OF AMERICANS.

I WANT TO GET YOUR TAKE ON HOW YOU BEGIN TO DEMYSTIFY SOMETHING AS INTIMIDATING AS FINANCES.

THAT'S A GREAT QUESTION.

THE FIRST THING FOLKS NEED TO DO IS UNDERSTAND THAT THEIR RELATIONSHIP TO MONEY IS NOT THEM, MEANING, THEIR CREDIT SCORE IS NOT A REFLECTION OF YOU.

SO MANY OF US HAVE ANXIETY IN THE ISSUES AROUND MONEY AND TALKING ABOUT IT, FIRST AND FOREMOST.

SO YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND MONEY IS SIMPLY JUST A TOOL.

THINK ABOUT MONEY LIKE YOU THINK ABOUT A HAMMER, RIGHT?

YOU DON'T GET ALL EMOTIONAL ABOUT A HAMMER.

IT'S JUST A TOOL.

MONEY'S THE SAME THING.

JUST LIKE A HAMMER, IF YOUR GOAL IS TO POUND A NAIL, A HAMMER IS A REALLY EFFECTIVE TOOL.

IT CAN IMPROVE YOUR EFFICIENCY AND THE QUALITY OF YOUR WORK, RIGHT?

BUT IF YOU HAVE TO CLEAN WOOD FLOORS AND YOU USE THE SAME TOOL, A HAMMER, TO CLEAN THOSE FLOORS, WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?

MORE DAMAGE THAN GOOD.

YOU'RE GOING TO ACTUALLY HURT THE FLOORS.

MONEY IS EXACTLY THE SAME.

IF YOU BE AGNOSTIC ABOUT IT, IT'S JUST A TOOL TO HELP YOU BUILD THE LIFE YOU WANT.

EVERYONE'S DIFFERENT, SO USING THAT TOOL IS DIFFERENT.

SAY, HEY, I WANT TO USE THAT TOOL OF MONEY EFFECTIVELY TO IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF MY LIFE, THIS IS WHAT I HAVE TO DO.

IF I USE IT IN THE WRONG WAY, IT'S NOT JUST A ZERO SUM, I'M ACTUALLY GOING TO HURT MY LIFE.

IF I RUN UP A LOT OF DEBT AND I HAVE A BAD CREDIT SCORE, IT'S GOING TO HURT MY LIFE AND THOSE AROUND ME BECAUSE IT'S GOING TO BE A DRAG ON ME.

I ALWAYS TALK ABOUT DEBT BEING LIKE A TYPE OF BONDAGE OR SLAVERY.

WE HAVE TO RELEASE OURSELVES FROM THAT TYPE OF BONDAGE BECAUSE IT CAN KEEP YOU CAUGHT.

THAT'S WHY IT HAS TO START WITH FINANCIAL LITERACY.

IT'S NOT YOU.

YOUR CREDIT SCORE IS NOT A REFLECTION OF YOU, SO DON'T GET PERSONAL ABOUT IT.

THEREFORE, TREAT IT LIKE A HAMMER.

WHAT IS THIS TOOL OF MONEY AND HOW CAN I USE IT EFFECTIVE LY T ACHIEVE THE GOALS I HAVE FOR MYSELF, MY FAMILY AND MY COMMUNITY.

THAT'S A GREAT ANALOGY, ALTHOUGH I WOULD POINT OUT THAT MOST PEOPLE AREN'T TAUGHT TO NEVER TALK ABOUT A HAMMER, BUT MOST OF US ARE TAUGHT NOT TO TALK ABOUT FINANCES.

THAT'S CONSIDERED IMPOLITE.

YOU'RE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT.

THERE WAS A STUDY THAT CAME OUT RECENTLY THAT SAID THAT PEOPLE ARE MORE APT TO REVEAL INFIDELITY THAN THEY ARE TO TALK ABOUT THEIR CREDIT SCORE.

BUT THAT SPEAKS TO THE FOUNDATIONAL ISSUE THAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT.

THE MORE THAT WE CAN BE HONEST ABOUT WHAT MONEY REALLY IS AND HOW OUR RELATIONSHIP TO MONEY IMPACTS EVERY ASPECT OF OUR LIFE, THEN WE COULD ACTUALLY SORT OF DEMYSTIFY IT AND HAVE PEOPLE SEE IT IN A DIFFERENT WAY.

SO THAT'S WHY WORKING WITH E EXPERION BOOST.

YOU GO IN AND ADD TO YOUR PAYMENT SCORE BECAUSE YOU ADD POSITIVE PAYMENT HISTORY.

IF YOU DON'T KNOW HOW YOUR CREDIT SCORE WORKS, THE POSITIVE PAYMENT HISTORY ACTUALLY IMPACTS YOUR CREDIT SCORE POSITIVELY, YOU WOULDN'T KNOW TO EVEN DO THAT.

WE HAVE TO HAVE THESE DISCUSSIONS SO THAT PEOPLE CAN LEARN AND THEN APPLY WHAT THEY LEARN THROUGH REAL ACTION.

SO YOU ALSO IN YOUR ANALOGY WITH THE HAMMER, YOU BROUGHT UP SOMETHING THAT IS INCREDIBLY INTEGRAL TO THIS CONVERSATION.

CLEANING A FAMILIAR LOOR WITH A.

AT THE SAME TIME THAT WE'RE TAUGHT NOT TO TALK ABOUT FINANCIAL MATTERS, A LOT OF PEOPLE DON'T UNDERSTAND THEIR CREDIT SCORE, THERE'S ALSO THE NOTION THAT FINANCIAL LITERACY IS SOMETHING FOR WEALTHY PEOPLE.

YOU HAVE TO ACCRUE A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF MONEY TO EVEN BE BOTHERED WITH THAT.

WHAT IF YOU ARE SOMEBODY WHO IS MAKING A LIVING CLEANING FLOORS OR SOMETHING?

THAT TENDS TO BE THE PART OF THE POPULATION THAT NEEDS THIS INFORMATION THE MOST, BUT FEELS UNENTITLED TO IT.

ABSOLUTELY.

HERE'S A SAD FACT, THAT A HUGE PERCENTAGE OF THE FINANCIAL PRODUCTS THAT ARE OFFERED INTO MARGINALIZED COMMUNITIES TEND TO BE PREDATORY OR HIDDEN PREDATORY.

AND FOLKS GET HURT ALL THE TIME.

THERE'S THIS OLD SAYING, IT'S EXPENSIVE TO BE POOR.

IT'S ABSOLUTELY TRUE.

WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT PAYDAY LENDERS, CHECK CASHING SPOTS, RENT TO OWN, EVEN CERTAIN BANKING FACILITIES.

THERE ARE LAWSUITS WITH BANKS WHERE PEOPLE HAD $800 IN THEIR SAVINGS, BUT THEY'RE GETTING CHARGED $250 A YEAR IN OVERDRAFT FEES OR NOT HITTING THE ACCOUNT LIMIT FEES.

THESE ARE HIDDEN PREDATORY PRACTICES THAT BEFALL MANY MARGINALIZED COMMUNITIES.

THE MORE FOLKS CAN LEARN ABOUT THIS, THEY REALIZE THEY'VE BEEN PAYING 200-300% INTEREST ON SOME THINGS.

IT'S VERY DIFFICULT TO BUILD SAVINGS IF YOU'RE HAVING SO MUCH MONEY RIPPED OUT OF THE COMMUNITY.

WE KNOW THERE'S PEOPLE WITH THREE JOBS THAT ARE BARELY MAKING ENDS MEET BECAUSE THERE'S SO MANY HIDDEN COSTS BEFALLING THEM.

THAT'S WHY I WROTE THE BOOK 'THE WEALTH CURE' TO DEAL WITH THE WEALTH GAP.

WE HAVE TO TALK ABOUT THESE THINGS, EXPOSE THEM FOR WHAT THEY ARE AND SAY THERE ARE ALTERNATIVE CHOICE LS S FOLKS C MAKE TO IMPROVE THEIR FINANCIAL FUTURE AND FOUNDATION.

WE DID PUT THIS AGAINST THE EXPERIENCE THAT ALL OF US IN VERY DIFFERENT WAYS.

I'M WONDERING WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE FOR SOMEONE WHO IS NOT SURE WHAT THE FIRST STEP IS, BUT HOW DO THEY GO ABOUT IMPROVING THEIR CREDIT SCORE IN A RUTHLESSLY CAPITALISTIC SOCIETY?

THERE'S A COUPLE THINGS.

NUMBER ONE, TAKING A STEP BACK FROM YOUR CREDIT SCORE, IF THE AND TAUGHT US ANYTHING, I WANT PEOPLE TO UNDERSTAND HOW IMPORTANT IT IS TO HAVE AN EMERGENCY FUND AND BE PUTTING MONEY AWAY INTO THAT BUCKET.

JUST THINK OF AN EMERGENCY FUND AS A BUCKET.

HOW DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE NUMBER YOU NEED?

THIS IS IT.

THINK ABOUT WHAT YOUR ACTUAL NEEDS ARE TO LIVE, WHICH IS, HOUSING, FOOD, WATER, SHELTER AND UTILITIES, ELECTRICITY, GAS BILL.

FOR ME, I ALSO ADD IN MY T TELECOM, MY PHONE BILL.

I PUT THAT INTO A NUMBER.

WHATEVER THAT MONTHLY NUMBER IS, I WANT TO HAVE AT LEAST SIX MONTHS OF THAT EMERGENCY FUND IN SAVINGS.

NOW, THAT DOESN'T NECESSARILY DIRECTLY IMPACT YOUR CREDIT SCORE, BUT IT IMPACTS YOUR LIFE.

THE MORE THE BETTER FOR THE EMERGENCY FUND.

THE SECOND STEP IS TO LOOK AT YOUR HIGHEST INTEREST DEBT THAT YOU'RE CARRYING AND START COMING UP WITH A PLAN TO PAY THAT DOWN.

YOU DON'T HAVE TO TAKE IT ALL ON IN ONE MONTH AND SHAME YOURSELF AND FEEL BAD ABOUT IT, BUT START HAVING A CONCENTRATED PLAN TO PAY DOWN YOUR HIGHEST INTEREST DEBT.

THAT WILL BEGIN OVER TIME TO IMPACT YOUR CREDIT SCORE.

THE OTHER PIECE IS EXPERION BOOST.

YOU GO ONTO EXPERION.COM/BOOST.

IF YOU'RE PAYING A BILL THROUGH A CREDIT CARD OR YOUR BANK ACCOUNT, YOUR NETFLIX OR HULU OR A UTILITY, YOU CAN ADD THAT POSITIVE PAYMENT HISTORY TO YOUR FILE AND HOPEFULLY BOOSTS YOUR CREDIT SCORE.

NOW 50 MILLION POINTS HAVE BEEN ADDED TO PEOPLE'S SCORES THROUGH EXPERION BOOST, WHICH I THINK IS GREAT.

THAT'S ANOTHER THING.

ALSO, CHECK YOUR CREDIT SCORE REGULARLY.

YOU BEING INTENTIONAL ABOUT IT AND LEARNING ABOUT WHAT GOES INTO CREATING THAT ALGORITHM HELPS YOU IMPROVE YOUR SCORE.

THE INTENTIONALITY HELPS.

IF WE JUST BURY OUR HEAD IN THE SAND, ACT LIKE THERE'S NOTHING WE CAN DO THAT'S THE ABSOLUTELY WRONG THING.

WE WANT TO BE INTENTIONAL.

WE WANT TO BE CHECKING OUR SCORE.

WE WANT TO BE UTILITIZING FREE TOOLS TO HELP OUR SCORE IMPROVE.

HILL, HARPER, I WANT TO CONTINUE THIS DISCUSSION.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US ON 'METROFOCUS' AND GIVING US SOME SUGGESTIONS AND TIPS AND TOOLS OF THE TRADE.

THANK YOU.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

> HI.

I'M JENNA FLAT BNAGAN.

FARMING IN AMERICA HAS LONG BEEN FABLED AS ONE OF THE PURIST, MOST HONEST FORMS OF LABOR.

IT'S WORK THAT'S OFTEN CONSIDERED NOBLE AND MANLY.

THANKS TO MORE THAN A CENTURY OF AMERICAN ICONOGRAPHY, IT'S ALSO ASSOCIATED WITH WHITE MEN.

YOU'LL FIND A MUCH MORE COMPLICATED AND NUANCED IDEA.

AS PART OF OUR CHASING THE DREAM INITIATIVE, EXAMINING POVERTY AND OPPORTUNITY IN AMERICA, I'M JOINED BY KAREN WASHINGTON, ONE OF THE COFOUNDERS OF RISING GROUP FARM.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME, JENNA.

LET'S START WITH THE FARM ITSELF.

I'M SURE A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE HEARING ABOUT THIS FOR THE FIRST TIME.

WHAT IS IS THE FARM?

IT'S FOUR WOMEN.

TWO OF US ARE WOMEN OF COLOR, TWO OF US ARE WHITE WOMEN.

THE FOUR OF US ARE ROOTED IN FOOD JUSTICE.

WE GOT OUR START FROM DOING COMMUNITY GARDEN WORK IN NEW YORK CITY.

THROUGH WORKING IN COMMUNITY GARDENS AND BECOMING GOOD FRIENDS, WE ALWAYS SAID ONE DAY WE WANT TO FARM TOGETHER TO SCALE UP BUT ALSO TO MAKE SURE EVERYONE HAS A RIGHT TO FRESH, LOCAL PRODUCE.

WE TOOK THIS JOURNEY.

TO BE HONEST WITH YOU, IT WAS A TWO-YEAR JOURNEY GOING UP AND DOWN THE HUDSON VALLEY IN NEW YORK AND FINALLY STUMBLING ON CHESTER, NEW YORK.

WE HAVE 3 ACRES OF LAND.

IT IS BLACK DIRT LITERALLY WHERE WE GROW THE BEST VEGETABLES, BUT A ALSO WHEAT.

WHAT IS SIGNIFICANT ABOUT THE FOOD JUSTICE MOVEMENT YOU'RE INVOLVED IN?

WE'VE DONE A LOT OF STORIES WHERE WE'VE TALKED ABOUT THE FACT THAT THERE ARE COMMUNITIES PARTICULARLY IN THE BRONX AND VARIOUS NEIGHBORHOODS IN SOME OF THE OTHER OUTER BOROUGHS OF NEW YORK THAT ARE FOOD DESERTS WHERE PEOPLE CANNOT GET ACCESS TO FRESH VEGETABLES.

DON'T USE THE WORD FOOD DESERT.

WE DON'T LIVE IN A DESERT.

WHAT A FOOD DESERT IS AN OUTSIDE TERM TO DENOTE THE FACT THAT THERE IS A LIMITED ACCESS TO FOOD.

WE DO HAVE FOOD.

WE HAVE UNHEALTHY FOOD.

SO WHAT WE'RE TRYING TO DO REALLY IS TO PEEL AWAY OUR RESPONSIBILITY AND OUR HISTORY AROUND FARMING.

FIRST OF ALL, IF YOU LOOK GLOBALLY, MOST FARMERS THROUGHOUT THE WORLD ARE WOMEN.

THAT'S NUMBER ONE.

NUMBER TWO, IF YOU LOOK ABOUT THE HISTORY OF FOOD IN OUR COUNTRY, OUR HISTORY OF FOOD WAS DONE ON THE BACKS OF ENSLAVED AND INDIGENOUS PEOPLE.

GROWING UP IN AMERICA, I WAS ALWAYS TAUGHT THAT FARMING WAS SLAVE LABOR UNTIL I STARTED TO PEEL BACK THE HISTORY AND FOUND OUT THE TRUTH OF WHY WE WERE BROUGHT HERE.

WE WERE BROUGHT HERE BECAUSE OF OUR KNOWLEDGE OF AGRICULTURE.

WE BROUGHT THE FOUNDATION OF FOOD IN THIS COUNTRY.

ONCE YOU TELL YOUNG PEOPLE ABOUT THAT, OUR PLACE IN AGRICULTURE, THE WHOLE NARRATIVE SHIFTS AND NOW YOU ARE EMBODIED WITH POWER, POWER TO GO BACK TO THE LAND, POWER TO GROW FOOD, POWER TO FEED YOUR OWN FAMILY.

WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT TO TELL THAT NARRATIVE?

THANK YOU ALSO FOR CLARIFYING THERE ARE NO DESERTS IN NEW YORK.

SERIOUSLY, THOUGH, TO NOT ONLY MAKE SURE THAT PEOPLE ARE CLEAR ON WHAT THE HISTORY OF FARMING IS, BUT ALSO THAT THIS IS ALSO WOMEN'S WORK.

AS YOU SAID, MOST FARMS ARE RUN BY WOMEN.

YES, IT IS WOMEN'S WORK AND IT'S A POWERFUL THING.

THE PROBLEM IS THAT, AGAIN, MOST OF THE POWER WHEN WE TALK ABOUT FARMING IS WITH WHITE MEN.

YET, GLOBALLY WOMEN ARE DOING THE WORK.

WHAT WE DO LACK IS, OF COURSE, CAPITAL, ACCESS TO TECHNOLOGY AND ACCESS TO LAND.

BUT THAT'S STARTING TO CHANGE NOW, BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE STARTING, ESPECIALLY PEOPLE OF COLOR, TO GO BACK TO THE LAND, BECAUSE THEY KNOW LAND WITHIN THEIR FAMILY IS LEGACY, IS HISTORY.

KNOWING THE FACT THAT YOU CAN GROW YOUR OWN FOOD MAKES YOU POWERFUL.

THAT'S A NARRATIVE THAT YOUNG PEOPLE ARE NOW CATCHING ON AND WANT TO GO BACK TO FARM.

NOW, OF COURSE, YOU WERE SAYING THAT RISING ROOT ALMOST GREW OUT OF OR OUTGREW AN URBAN FARM IN THE CITY.

I'M WONDERING IF THAT FITS INTO A LARGER MOVEMENT, AS ESPECIALLY NOW WITH THE COVID-19 CRISIS WE'VE SEEN EVEN MORE PEOPLE INTERESTED IN KNOWING THEIR FOOD SUPPLY SOURCE, BEING ABLE TO GROW THEIR OWN FOOD IN A NEIGHBORHOOD PLOT OR BACK YARD, IF THEY'RE ABLE TO.

IT HAS BEEN OVERWHELMING, THE AMOUNT OF PEOPLE REACHING OUT TO US AND OTHER URBAN GROWERS ABOUT COMING BACK TO THE LAND, HOW DO WE GET STARTED IN COMMUNITY GARDENS, HOW DO WE FIND LAND.

BECAUSE THEY UNDERSTAND WITH THIS PANDEMIC, IT'S THE HEALTHY FOOD THAT IS GOING TO MAKE US BETTER.

FOOD IS MEDICINE.

PEOPLE NOW WANT TO KNOW, FIRST OF ALL, WHERE THEIR FOOD COMES FROM, WHO'S GROWING IT AND IF IT WAS SPRAYED WITH PESTICIDES AND WHO'S GROWING IT.

WE WANT TO KNOW THAT THE WORKERS HAVE BEEN TREATED HUMANELY AND HAVE BEEN PAID A FAIR WAGE.

YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT SO MANY LAYERS UPON LAYERS THAT WE'RE LEARNING NOT JUST ABOUT THE FOOD THAT WE'RE EATING BUT OF COURSE THE SUPPLY CHAINS AND SOME OF THE MASS INDUSTRIAL PARDFARMS T THIS COUNTRY ALSO HAS.

I'M WONDERING ABOUT THE RELATIONSHIP TO FOOD.

AS YOU MENTIONED IT'S NOT THAT THERE ISN'T FOOD IN A LOT OF THESE COMMUNITIES.

IT'S BAD FOOD, IT'S PROCESSED FOOD.

DOES RISING ROOT WORK WITH PEOPLE'S RELATIONSHIP TO FOOD?

FOR EXAMPLE, A LOT OF PEOPLE IF THEY JOIN A CSA, THEY MIGHT GET A BOX EVERY WEEK AND THERE'S USUALLY SOMETHING IN THERE THAT YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IT IS OR HOW TO COOK.

I WOULD ASSUME THE FURTHER YOU ARE AWAY FROM A RELATIONSHIP TO FRESH PRODUCE, THE MORE LIKELY YOU'RE GOING TO FIND SOME VEGETABLES TO FEEL SORT OF FOREIGN.

PEOPLE FROM THE CITY HAVE BEEN FOLLOWING US WHEN WE LEFT NEW YORK CITY UP TO CHESTER, NEW YORK, WE HAVE MAINTAINED OUR ROOTS IN THE CITY.

FARM SCHOOL IS AN URBAN AG SCHOOL THAT TEACHES FOOD JUSTICE, THAT TEACHES PEOPLE HOW TO GROW FOOD, TO TEACH PEOPLE TO ASK QUESTIONS ABOUT WHERE THEIR FOOD COMES FROM.

WE TELL PEOPLE, YOU KNOW WHAT, IF YOU DON'T HAVE A COMMUNITY GARDEN, YOU CAN START GROWING ON A WINDOWSILL OR BACK YARD OR FRONT YARD, SOMEBODY ELSE'S YARD.

WHAT THIS PANDEMIC IS SHOWING IS THAT PEOPLE UNDERSTAND THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN FOOD AND HEALTH.

YOU MENTIONED THE FACT THAT WE TALKED ABOUT A FOOD DESERT.

WE DON'T CALL IT A FOOD DESERT.

I COINED THE TERM FOOD APARTHEID BECAUSE I WANT PEOPLE TO START THINKING ABOUT THE INTERSECTION OF FOOD ALONG RACE, DEMOGRAPHICS AND ECONOMICS.

WE NEED TO HAVE THOSE HARD CONVERSATIONS TO MAKE PEOPLE FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE TO BE COMFORTABLE.

WE HAVE THOSE CONVERSATIONS.

WE HAVE WORKSHOPS.

PEOPLE COME TO OUR FARM NOT ONLY TO HELP GROW OUR FOOD AND TO SEE THE PROCESS OF GROWING FEED.

OUR STORY IS THE AMERICAN STORY.

OUR ANCESTORS HAVE BEEN NAMELESS AND FACELESS.

WE'RE TRYING TO PUT A NAME AND A FACE OF THOSE WHO CAME BEFORE US.

WE STAND ON THE SHOULDERS OF KINGS AND QUEENS, AND WE WANT TO MAKE SURE PEOPLE UNDERSTAND THAT.

IT SOUNDS LIKE RISING ROOT ISN'T JUST A TEACHING FARM OR PERHAPS IS A TEACHING FARM IN LARGER SENSE WHERE YOU'RE TEACHING ALSO THE HISTORY OF F FARMING.

HOW DO YOU THINK THE NARRATIVE GOT DRIVEN IN A SINGULAR DIRECTION ABOUT WHO IS A FARMER IN AMERICA?

YOU KNOW, IT BOILS DOWN TO POWER DYNAMICS.

THAT'S ALL.

IT BOILS DOWN TO POWER DYNAMICS OF A GROUP OF PEOPLE HAVING POWER OVER OTHERS.

WE'RE TRYING TO PEEL BACK THAT POWER DYNAMIC AND NARRATIVE.

LET'S BRING THE TRUTH INTO LIGHT.

WE HAVE OVER 7.5 BILLION PEOPLE.

WE HAVE A HANDFUL OF ORGANIZATIONS, COMPANIES THAT CONTROL OUR FOOD SYSTEM.

HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?

HOW IS IT THAT WE DON'T TAKE A STAND WHEN IT COMES TO FOOD JUSTICE?

CALL OUT THE INJUSTICES WE SEE ALONG THE FOOD CHAIN.

NOW PEOPLE ARE STARTING TO QUESTION THE FOOD SYSTEM.

THEY LOOK IN THEIR COMMUNITIES AND SEE HOW BAD THE FOOD IS.

YET THEY GO INTO AFFLUENT COMMUNITIES AND SEE THE DIFFERENCE IN THOSE COMMUNITIES WHEN IT COMES TO FOOD.

WE'RE TALKING ABOUT FOOD JUSTICE AND EQUITY AND FOOD SOVEREIGNTY AND THE RIGHT FOR ALL PEOPLE TO HAVE, THEN HEALTHY FOOD AND WATER ARE THE TWO THINGS THAT ARE FOR EVERYBODY.

WE WANT TO MAKE SURE AT RISING ROOT THAT WE SOUND THAT ALARM, THAT WE MAKE PEOPLE TO GO OUT AND REALLY STAND UP FOR THAT, SPEAK UP, SPEAK OUT, BECAUSE FOOD AND WATER ARE HUMAN RIGHTS FOR ALL.

ABSOLUTELY.

I'M WONDERING IN ADDITION TO ALL OF THE WORK THAT RISING ROOT DOES, IF SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO FIGURE OUT, YOU KNOW, THERE IS A PLOT OF LAND IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD AND I WOULD LOVE TO TURN IT INTO A COMMUNITY GARDEN, BUT I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA WHERE TO START, IS RISING ROOT A GOOD SOURCE FOR THAT?

RISING ROOT IS A GOOD SOURCE.

WE'VE NEVER LET GO OF OUR CONNECTIONS IN NEW YORK CITY.

IN NEW YORK CITY THERE'S A HUGE COMMUNITY GARDEN MOVEMENT.

THERE'S AN OFFICE CALLED GREEN THUMB.

THREE THINGS.

NUMBER ONE, IF YOU FIND A PLOT OF LAND, FIND OUT WHO OWNS IT.

IF THE CITY OWNS IT AND THEY HAVE NO PLANS FOR DEVELOPMENT AND YOU GET AT LEAST TEN PEOPLE THAT WANT TO GROW FOOD, CHANCES ARE YOU CAN HAVE THAT LOT AS A COMMUNITY GARDEN.

IF IT'S PRIVATELY OWNED, ASK THE OWNER IF YOU CAN USE AND GROW THERE.

THERE ARE SO MANY INSTITUTIONS THAT ALSO HAVE VACANT LOTS, CHURCHES, SYNAGOGUES, LIBRARIES, MUSEUMS.

INSTITUTIONS, BELIEVE IT OR NOT, HAVE VACANT LAND THAT WOULD BE, I GUESS, VERY, VERY INTERESTED IN HELPING ANYONE GROW FOOD, ESPECIALLY AT THIS POINT IN TIME.

WE'RE COMING UP ON TEND OF OUR TIME TOGETHER.

I WOULD BE REMISS IF I DIDN'T ASK IF YOU COULD EXPLAIN A LITTLE BIT ABOUT WHAT YOU WERE SAYING ABOUT THE BLACK DIRT AND HOW THAT AFFECTS THE QUALITY OF THE PRODUCE YOU'RE ABLE TO PRODUCE.

BLACK DIRT, OH MY GOODNESS, WE GROW THE BEST VEGETABLES AND ALSO THE BEST WEEDS.

I HAVE A LITTLE THING WITH WEEDS.

AT ONE TIME I USED TO THINK WEEDS WERE BAD, BUT A LOT OF WEEDS ARE EDIBLE.

I COMPLETELY AGREE.

I RECENTLY DISCOVERED DANDELION GREENS.

I'D LOVE PEOPLE TO COME UP AND VISIT RISING ROOT.

WE HAVE COMMUNITY DAYS THE LAST SATURDAY OF THE MONTH.

BECAUSE OF COVID, WE'VE REALLY CURTAILED THE AMOUNT OF PEOPLE THAT WE ALLOW, SO TEN PEOPLE MAX.

FOLLOW US ON OUR WEBSITE, FOLLOW US ON FACEBOOK.

ONE THING WE SAY ABOUT OUR FARM, WE OPEN OUR FARM TO EVERYONE.

IT'S A HEALING FARM.

IT GOES BEYOND JUST GROWING FOOD.

IT'S GROWING COMMUNITY.

WE WELCOME ALL THAT REALLY WANT TO PROMOTE FOOD JUSTICE AND SOCIAL ADHESION.

KAREN WASHINGTON, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SHARING NOT ONLY THE WORK THAT YOU DO YOU'RE SO PASSIONATE ABOUT AT RISING ROOT FARM, BUT ALSO THE PASSIONATE WORK BEHIND THE COMMUNITY GARDENS THAT WE'VE SEEN POP UP ALL OVER THE CITY AND ONE CAN ONLY ASSUME WE'LL PROBABLY BE SEEING MORE OF AS THE CITY BEGINS TO RECOVER FROM COVID AS WELL.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

ABSOLUTELY.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND.

BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION AND BY -- JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER, JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD, CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY, JUDY AND JOSH WESTON, AND THE DR. ROBERT C.

AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION, THE JPB FOUNDATION.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, The Peter G. Peterson and Joan Ganz Cooney Fund, Bernard and Denise Schwartz, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, The Ambrose Monell Foundation, Janet Prindle Seidler, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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