Authors: Gigi Traore
Gigi Traore is a Green For All Academy Fellow; Cleveland, OH, Ward 5 resident; activist; and past City Council candidate who has resided in the Carver Park community for over three years. It is her hope that her work with Green For All will help educate residents on the benefits of the Green Economy, as well as offer training programs needed for them to become community leaders.
Cleveland, OH has been ranked the poorest city in the United States three times and unsurprisingly so. Ward 5, an inner city district, matches this statistic by being the poorest ward with high crime, low employment and educational rates.
However, through the negativity, I have witnessed a glimmer of hope and possibility; developed during these most desolate times, just like a "rose growing from concrete.” Early this summer, walking up to my renovated housing complex, I noticed that my neighbor Ms. Pauline had started a garden. This garden encompasses our “shared” 16 x 16 plot of landscape. In it grow peppers, cucumbers, turnips, tomatoes & collard greens as well as a variety of flowers, but primarily produce.
During our talk Ms. Pauline makes it sound so easy, "just put some seeds down and watch over it.” Truthfully, if it were left up to me, there wouldn’t be anything to watch over (I’m an activist with zero gardening skill.) As we continue to talk, Ms. Pauline credits her joy and talent for growing vegetables to her mother. “She would have me pick peas from the yard and get them ready for storage,” she tells me. And as she got older, it stuck with her, and now she continues the tradition no matter where she lives.
Ms. Pauline is one of the five residents that I personally know who are producing food and flowers in the Ward 5 community and these small acts give me hope and belief in the green economy. Many residents possess ability and skill, but what they need is access and resources to create their pathways out of poverty. During these times of desolation there is hope in the green economy and green job training programs, but more importantly there is hope for inner city communities to improve and develop to their full potential.