In my video for the kickstarter aspect of this project, farmer Joel Salatin, who agreed to appear in it, says,
The most powerful influence is still story. Personal testimonies. Stories of successful practitioners.
When Joel was saying that during the interview I thought it was neat but didn’t know at the time how his influence would add a new dimension to my project.
From the specific to the whole
Originally I thought I’d just do the many different ways urban agriculture can manifest. But his own take on what I was doing brought me to a place of greater specificity. I didm’;t just have to do broad topics — I could find specific individuals, businesses, groups, communities and tell this story through their actual stories.
And the best example of that so far was when I discovered East Side Compost Pedallers out of Austin, Texas.
Several people urged me to make composting a part of the art show and so I was researching more about the nature of compost and seeking inspiration for drawing a…pile of compost, maybe with a pitchfork sticking out. Or maybe a poster with quadrants depicting in turn counter top compost collection bins, home-based worm factories, backyard tumblers, pen-style compost areas — that kind of thing.
Pedal to the mettle
But what I really loved about the East Side Compost Pedallars (and there’s a LOT to love about them) was that they were turning composting into a viable grounds-up entrepreneurial business (it’s not a City of Austin service, but their own service). They’re a compost collection service that does it all on bikes.
So beyond all the crucial and even metaphorically-dynamic aspects of composting (from decay and death — life!) that are critical to crops and garden production, critical to re-nourishing the soil, critical to reusing valuable resources, and critical to our own understanding of life cycles — in addition to all that, these folks were creating jobs, livelihoods, filling a niche and making a life of it.
To be sure they’re not the only firm out there doing this, but they just happened to also be great at articulating their mission, finding ways to bring social entrepreneurialism to the core of their model, all while looking like they’re having as much fun as a group can inject into life.
As collectors, they bring compost from homes and businesses right to the farms that can use them. It seems like a model for plucky entrepreneurs everywhere to take on.
ESSAY To be continued…
— Lindsay Curren