Monday, March 01, 2010

Peace and Conflict Studies, Part 3: The Garden (USA: Scott Hamilton Kennedy, 2008)

(Students: you need to post in the comments a response to this documentary. People/Themes/Topics raised in this documentary and in our discussions of it can be used to develop a term paper project. This documentary is an example of Zinn's People's History projects. You can get your grade for Leon lane's assignment here )

Official Website

Watching this film today reminded me of this report I saw last week and emphasized the value of community gardens for our collective knowledge about the world:

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution: First Graders Can't Identify Fruits, Veggies

and another that spoke to our disconnect from the process of food-production as a result of large-scale agri-businesses dominating our food practices:

William Neuman: Bribes Let Tomato Vendor Sell Tainted Food

and the classic statement from the hunter-conservationist Aldo Leopold on the consequences of this lack-of-knowledge about the web-of-life:

Aldo Leopold: Thinking Like a Mountain

One of the most important and influential writers on the need for us to re-connect with the land and build strong communities is Kentucky native Wendell Berry

A great article that looks at our disconnect from the "stories" of the processes/beings that lead to the products we consume (including food): Rebecca Solnit: The Silence of the Lambswool Cardigan

Extending the politics of food and communal relations to our interaction with our fellow animals, I reflected on the The Politics of Meat

Samuel (I think that was his name) in actively supporting and joining the Latino gardeners in their fight to keep their gardens stated that he was a Black Panther. I'm not sure if you are familiar with the Black Panthers so here is a history of the organization.

I mentioned The Garden is playing in the Lexington One World Film Festival that started this weekend--check out the other films.

Zack de la Rocha is seen playing at a fundraiser at the South Central Garden and this song from Rage Against the Machine seemed relevant to the themes of the documentary: "Ashes in the Fall"

Terr Bruckner just sent a message about a BCTC Library Resource online that may be of use for some of your projects: Women's History

Extra Credit Opportunities (attend and write a 600+ word response)

Dear All,

Wanted to let you know that Rev. John Dear, S. J. (Jesuit priest) will be speaking at the UK Newman Center on Thursday, March 4 at 7:30 p.m. Rev. Dear was nominated for the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. His talk on Thursday night is entitled “Following the nonviolent Jesus in a world of violence and war.”

The abstract of the talk: Fr. John Dear will share reflections about the world of violence and war, the life of creative nonviolence and peace, Jesus’ active nonviolence, and how we can become contemplatives, activists, and prophets of peace and justice to work for a new world without war, poverty, nuclear weapons or global warming.

One note – he has been arrested over 75 times in acts of civil disobedience against war and nuclear weapons.

Take care,
Rebecca Glasscock



A free public lecture featuring Palestinian activist Hanan Ashrawi has been scheduled for the evening of March 23, 2010, at the University of Kentucky. Ashrawi has served as an elected member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Jerusalem District. In 2009, she was elected a member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), making history as the first woman to hold a seat in this executive body. Ashrawi’s academic career spanned several decades in which she served as a faculty member, chair in the Department of English and Dean of the Faculty at Birzeit University on the West Bank. From 1991 through 1993, she served as the official spokesperson of the Palestinian Delegation to the Middle East Peace Process and a member of both the Leadership/Guidance and Executive Committees of the Delegation.

With the signing of the peace accords by Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin in 1993 and the establishment of Palestinian self-rule, Ashrawi headed the Preparatory Committee of the Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizens' Rights in Jerusalem, and was the founder and commissioner general of that committee until 1995. From 1996 through 1998, she served as minister of higher education and research. In August of 1998, she founded the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy (MIFTAH), and has served as the Executive Committee chairperson of that organization since that time.

Tickets for Ashrawi’s public talk are available through the Singletary Center Ticket Office or by going to the SCFA website . No phone orders accepted. There is a limit of FOUR tickets per person using the SCFA website. Schools and community groups may contact Richard Greissman, at (859) 257-2471 or, for more information about group seating. Tickets are free.

As students ask question and/or make comments I will add more information in this post...


Katherine Carter said...

The Garden compels us to look at the way a community garden can bring joy and harmony within a group of people, it also shows us how conflict even within a collaborating group can lead to distrust among the people of that group. It is hard for me to believe that anyone would want to destroy something as uplifting as a community garden, but as we saw in this film people who are consumed by greed for money and power will stop at nothing to collect their wealth even if it means destroying a whole communities way of life. When the Farmers were served with an eviction notice I believe that the community was beginning to feel defeated and powerless over what was happening to them. The only thing that they had to resort to was to start blaming the people within their own group that had authority, and we saw this when one of the farmers attacked a leader in the farming community with his machete. In the end the farmers were defeated even with all the effort they made to raise the money that they needed to buy the land from the property owner. It really sadden me to see the people being forced out of the garden by police, and then watching them bulldoze everything that was living in the garden down. The trees alone in that garden had taken years of work to grow and flourish on the land. It is so ironic to me that anyone would disregard the demolishing an essential need like food to replace it with nothing it is nothing but senseless. In the end the farmers were still organizing so that they could find a place to grow their plants again, and it gives me hope to see even though people can be completely defeated they can always start over.

BRE said...

Brittany Elliott
HUM220-”The Garden”

“The Garden” was an emotional roller coaster of happiness, hatred, sadness, civil rights, injustices, and the ending of a 14 acre way of life in inner city LA. In the video I was amazed by the council that included Jan Perry and Juanita Tate, the LA court system, Larry Frank, the backroom deals that occurred, and Mr.Horawitz himself. These vulnerable farmers had raised 4.7 million dollars for their community that was basically embezzled! Now I am confused how that’s justice, how that is lawful, and how does congress, Horawitz, Juanita Tate, and Jan Perry got by with saying things like “this isn’t on public record,” and “I don’t know?” The main question that should be asked then is who does? I don’t understand why these decisions were made behind closed doors either? This makes no sense unless they knew that something was wrong, that this had to be a civil injustice. It was uncalled for the way that the courts handled the case. Maxine Waters, a congresswoman in LA said that they want to help develop and bring about the inner city, and they people living there, but instead congress makes the decisions to tear and destroy a way of life for these poor and vulnerable farmers, people, citizens! Not only is this an injustice, but obviously a scam to make the congress, the government, and for that matter the idea of so called “civil rights” to convey the impression that they are actually helping us, the citizens of the United States, and the community. When in the end the entire affair consisted of “backroom deals, land developers, green politics, money, poverty, power, and racial discord,” and the oblivious question of liberty, equality and justice for all. Please, tell me Mr. Congressman, Mr. President, who is “all,” the rich and powerful?

Kristy Karnes said...

The Garden was a modern day Eden in a concrete world. This story is one of love, strength, perseverance, and heartbreak. This garden was not just about growing food, it was about bringing together the people of the community. While the south central farmers may have in the end failed to save the land, they fought and organized and that is something worth remembering. I found it really difficult to sit and watch the owner’s testimony; I felt I could almost see the lies pouring out of his mouth. He didn’t care about these people or the amazing things they did, all he saw in that garden was money, and that’s pathetic. Government officials like Jan Perry are the reason I almost wish for anarchy, her use of articulate false hopes are worse then doing nothing at all.

Jane Garton said...

Upon watching this film, I could not help but be enraged by the injustice inherent in the system...but I was touched by the solidarity held by the gardeners (although a dissenter did get sliced by a machete), and the support from the Civil Liberties lawyers. Although it is often difficult to distinguish what it good and bad for a community (some wanted financial prosperity, but many wanted this garden), it was clear to me that in such a down-trodden, heavily polluted, completely disconnected from nature, over-populated city, a community garden should have taken priority over a building complex or a soccer field. Chances are, there were several vacant buildings in this gentrified part of the city, and parks for soccer. This particular community garden was one of a kind. It also showed how a group of people can take concrete and mold it into something beautiful and natural. But, like all natural areas, man's greed takes hold, and often defeats any inclination toward the natural world. This film showed how in the face of adversity, these Latinos were able to stick together, and resist what the government had to offer. Unfortunately, the battle was a short one, and the system won.

keith said...

Keith Klemes
Professor Benton
HUM 220
The Garden
What a tragedy, it never ceases to amaze me the levels of corruption money can bring. I have to ask a couple of questions though. How does this go from an African American riot to a Hispanic demonstration and why weren’t more African American involved in the raising of the “gardens?” How the hell did Jan Perry (an African American) get reelected if the population was mostly Hispanic? And one more question too just for good measure; what did having the garden and the Hispanics do to the property value?
Do not get me wrong what happened in the “garden” is just one more case of the powers of “the man,” and how they can crush the little guy. What a shame that we can NOT live in a true democracy where all men are truly created equally.

Jeremiah said...

The Garden was an interesting look into a group of people fighting to preserve their way of life. The people of the Garden community were doing nothing more than trying to pursue their right to a happy fulfilling life, along with improving their community. This small garden came about to contribute to the community after the LA riots. Something peaceful and beautiful that emerged from such tragedy.
This film was also a fine example of how nothing even as small as this garden is immune to government greed and corruption. It only took a few people with their greed and underhanded tactics to turn 14 acres of peace, into a battle ground. Even after going above and beyond what everyone thought they were capable of, the Garden community lost the fight. Some may have seen their loss as heartbreaking, but that was the inspiring part of the whole film. Even after everything they had gone through, they moved on and started over. They kept on trying, and with that kind of resolve you can never truly be beaten.

Anonymous said...

from Teena:
Money changes everything; it is an evil driving force behind the destruction of human value. It never ceases to amaze me how one person can accept a considerable profit at the expense of meaningful life of countless others. After viewing this documentary for the second time it disturbs me even more how politics in America continue to pervert the basic fundamentals of humanity. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you has a resonant ring through my brain when I consider the actions of Jan Perry, The Mayor, and Jaunita Tate. I believe the term coined in the documentary by the ex-black panther was “Poverty Pimp”. Jan Perry was elected into a position to help her fellow community grow and prosper but found herself consumed with greed raising the bottom line of her own personal wealth. Her actions are disgusting and I hope one day she will comprehend the severity of her illegal actions and realize that money isn’t everything. When you accept an elected position of power you are obligated to serve your people in accordance to what is best for them not what is best for your bank account. Juanita Tate is a scare-monger who got what she deserved. Her testimonies in the documentary reminded me of the movie Leon showed in class about the newly aggressive behavior of chimpanzees. Frodo was the dominant male in the beginning who ruled with aggression and an iron fist of violence and after only a short time fell ill was de-throwned and ran away to die alone. It is clear that Juanita Tate and Jan Perry cared nothing for the community they tried to represent if the community was not the proper shade and texture of green. To see the destruction of such lush and beautiful green life on the landscape of grey and concrete choked my emotions with a sick feeling of hopelessness for our society. However through this tummy turning sickness it also ignites a fire in my belly to continue to stand up for what is actually just and not turn tail when our unjust government rules in favor of the rich and powerful; for the rich and powerful are only a minority and we the working class people banded together hold a stronger force that political office and pretty paper ever could.

Dustin Cole said...

(DUSTIN COLE) The garden made me take a second look at how i view society. It was a really heartbreaking story and is unbelievable how people in society speak out very loud but are not heard by anyone. I thought that it was horrible for Mr. Horowitz to kick many people out of their garden that they basically lived in. I just don’t understand how someone could do that for a so called soccer field, when he didn’t even start the field after two years. The garden workers could have lived there for another two years. I cannot understand his point, yes he will make money but he is just doing something morally wrong. I would definitely like to hear his whole side of the story. This video just proves how greedy many people in our society are these days. We cannot continue to do stuff like this in our "great" nation. This is supposed to be the land of the free, but times like this sway many people away from believing they actually are free. Also Mr. Horowitz did not stick to his word at all. He told the people that if they raised 3 point something million dollars he would let them keep it. They went threw so much work to earn the money and when they did he backed down. His father bought the property for a lot less then that also. Many people did show support in the gardens cause and that was very touching. Jan Perry also had a very horrible cause. She was on a council, that was supposed to be for the help of the people. Juanita Tate was a very popular council woman in their city. Tate and Jan Perry signed a deal with each other because they were in it strictly for money. The governor of California was on the gardeners side, but when it was very important for him to be there, he wasn't. Stories like this always make me wonder how many horrible things like this happen under the radar of the American government. If this stuff continues to go on our nation will be greatly affected. Then one day, the whole Country will be corrupt.

Brett Poole said...

The Garden was a film that changed my opinion from the beginning to the end. At first when I started watching the film i thought that the people on that land had no right to be there and Mr. Horowitz should have been able to take it back whenever he pleased. I looked at it as if it were only a very fundamental decision on what to do, but as the film went on i realized that there were many more parts that went into deciding whose land it was. Jan Perry and Juanita Tate were big very big parts in this situation because they were making back room deals to sell the land back to Mr. Horowitz illegally. Then I realized something that I did not at the beginning of the film, Mr. Horowitz did not even own the land any more. The city had gotten it back after the riots. Jan Perry tried to get that land and make a deal with some business so she could get a portion of the land for soccer fields. I felt like this was just outrageous considering the last “soccer field” that Jan Perry and Juanita Tate had developed was made of dirt. I could not believe that this woman had raised millions of dollars to develop a public soccer field and then failed terribly, but she somehow got money and permission to build another one. The next soccer field that she was going to build would probably have been a dirt field and that was going to cover these peoples land that they rely on to live. Why would anyone allow that to happen? It all has to do with money. I still did not think Mr. Horowitz was that bad of a person until the very end of the film because i figured he is just trying to make some money off of the land that was his once, but then he would not even sell the land to the farmers after they raised enough money to buy it from him. There were a lot of different people that did things that i could not understand. Just to get a few dollars or get in good with a couple people, these people ruined the lives of many.

Nathan Cunningham said...

When watching the Documentary, the Garden, one can’t help but to become a little angry. In the film, basically, a wealthy land owner, and a corrupt few politicians abuse their power for obvious financial gains. The behavior of the major players involved is not surprising. Due to our recent history here in America, I think Americans in general have grown a bit cynical. We in this country have come to expect the wealthy to show their greed from time to time and for politicians to have their own interest at heart. What is surprising about this situation is the blatancy in which the powerful people involved are abusing that power. For example, every time this case was brought before a public judge for everyone to see, the farmers were granted an injunction. It took several backdoor deals to have the farmers finally removed. It is extremely obvious that Ralph Horowitz was operating outside the law to further his own greed. One method Horowitz used to sway the courts in his favor was to claim that the farmers were anti-Semitic. But then Horowitz offered to sell the land to the farmers, and unbelievably fair act. When the farmers raised the money, however, Horowitz refused, saying that it didn’t matter how much money they raised, he didn’t sell to them because he didn’t like their “conduct” and their “demeanor.” The hypocrisy is astounding.

Thivai Abhor said...

Keith, the land was set aside for a community garden by the city after they purchased it from horowitz--it was a part of a movement to improve the conditions on inner-city los angeles in the aftermath of the Rodney King trial riots.

I'm not sure why most of the farmers ended up being Hispanic? The population of the community is multicultural...

Thivai Abhor said...

Alex, I didn't accept your response... it was only two sentences.

Thivai Abhor said...

Dustin, no credit for your response

1) People didn't live in the garden

2) Horowitz wasn't involved in the soccer field scam.

3) We heard Horowitz's side of the story in the legal "deposition" that is played in the documentary.

4) Horowitz demanded that the gardeners raise/pay 16.3 million (not 3 million) dollars to save the garden

5) There was only one Horowitz in the film--not a father and a son.

6) Juanita Tate was not a council woman

7) We see no evidence of a "signed deal" between Tate/Perry, but we do hear Horowitz in his deposition mention that Tate signed a deal with him.

8) It is the Mayor, not the governor, of California who at first supports the gardeners but then fails to show up when they need him (because he needs Juanita Tate's support for re-election)