Entrepreneurship as a Cure for Violence

Karen Washington speaking

Karen Washington is the co-founder of Rise & Root Farm in Orange County, NY, and a board member of the New York Botanical Gardens. She has spent decades promoting urban farming as a way for all New Yorkers to access to fresh, locally grown food.
Wednesday, June 1st at 6:30 pm
500 Main Church Street, New Rochelle, NY 10801
Karen Washington and Michelle Obama

Karen Washington, left, receives a 2010 National Medal for Museum and Library Service along with Gregory Long, director of the New York Botanical Garden, from First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House

As a member of the La Familia Verde Community Garden Coalition, she helped launched a City Farms Market, bringing garden fresh vegetables to her neighbors. Karen is a Just Food board member and Just Food Trainer, leading workshops on food growing and food justice for community gardeners all over the city. Karen is a board member and former president of the New York City Community Garden Coalition, a group that was founded to preserve community gardens. She also co-founded Black Urban Growers (BUGS), an organization of volunteers committed to building networks and community support for growers in both urban and rural settings. In 2012 Ebony magazine voted her one of their 100 most influential African Americans in the country, and in 2014 she was awarded with the James Beard Leadership Award.
We will tour the Hydroponics system at New York Covenant Church after the lecture.

Mark Bittman

[T]he issues that confront most Americans directly are income, food (thereby, agriculture), health and climate change. (And, of course, war, but let’s leave that aside for now.)
These are all related: You can’t address climate change without fixing agriculture, you can’t fix health without improving diet, you can’t improve diet without addressing income, and so on. The production, marketing and consumption of food is key to nearly everything. (It’s one of the keys to war, too, because large-scale agriculture is dependent on control of global land, oil, minerals and water.)
First Lady Michelle Obama agrees about the importance of growing food:

If you take into account prisoners, a large majority of African American men in some urban areas, like Chicago, have been labeled felons for life. These men are part of a growing undercaste — not class, caste – a group of people who are permanently relegated, by law, to an inferior second-class status. They can be denied the right to vote, automatically excluded from juries, and legally discriminated against in employment, housing, access to education, and public benefits — much as their grandparents and great-grandparents once were during the Jim Crow era.
~ Michelle Alexander

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

There is also a study that tracks murders in Newark, NY as an ‘infectious disease:’
Homicides in Newark have spread through the city over the past 30 years like an infectious disease and can be tracked and treated like a public health issue with prevention, inoculation and treatment, according to a study by Michigan State University.
The study, among the first to track murder through the lens of medical research, is part of a widening trend among local leaders and the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to treat violent crime like a medical condition.


Seth Godin

At the root of the problem, we see a population who doesn’t understand their own power of agency. Seth Godin wrote a blog entry addressing this issue:
Agency is the ability to make a decision, and to be responsible for the decision you make….
Every worker in every job is given a pass, because he’s just doing his job. The cigarette marketer or the foreman in the low-wage sweatshop… they’re just doing their jobs.
This free pass is something that makes the industrial economy so attractive to many people. They’ve been raised to want someone else to be responsible for the what and the how, and they’d just like a job, thanks very much.
As the industrial company sputters and fades, there’s a fork in the road. In one direction lies the opportunity to regain agency, to take responsibility for ever more of our actions and their effects. In the other direction is the race to the bottom, and the dehumanizing process of more compliance, a cog in an uncaring system.
Seth Godin also wrote in The Icarus Deception about our need to become more godlike:
Myths are about becoming more godlike and achieving our best. Propaganda, on the other hand, celebrates those in power and urges us to willing comply with their desires…. We’ve built a world where the only option is hubris, where the future belongs to anyone willing to act like the gods of our myths…. The Japanese call it kamiwaza.
We need to move away for our current system that is developing a growing permanent undercaste of Black men, and begin to give young people a sense of the power of their own agency.
Most of us believe that the best way to motivate ourselves and others is with external rewards like money—the carrot-and-stick approach. That’s a mistake, Daniel H. Pink says in, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, his provocative and persuasive new book. The secret to high performance and satisfaction—at work, at school, and at home—is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.
[Y]ou [cannot] understand why someone [is] healthy [or wealthy] if all you [do is] think about their individual choices or actions in isolation. You [have] to look beyond the individual. You [have] to understand what culture they were a part of, and who their friends and families were, and what town… their family came from. You [have] to appreciate the idea that community — the values of the world we inhabit and the people we surround ourselves with — has a profound effect on who we are. ~ Malcolm Gladwell
When it comes to motivation, there’s a gap between what science knows and what business does. Our current business operating system–which is built around external, carrot-and-stick motivators–doesn’t work and often does harm. We need an upgrade. And the science shows the way. This new approach has three essential elements: 1. Autonomy – the desire to direct our own lives. 2. Mastery— the urge to get better and better at something that matters. 3. Purpose — the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves. ~ Daniel Pink
It is time to adopt new education and business paradigms that reflect the science
From an article by Vivek Wadhwa, we can also take a lesson from the Indians:
Indians have done amazingly well as entrepreneurs in the Valley, but other groups—African Americans and women, to name two—remain largely out of sight.
Why were Indians so successful?
They agreed that the key to uplifting their community, and fostering more entrepreneurship in general, was to teach and mentor the next generation of entrepreneurs.
Dan Pink - Purpose

RSA Animate – Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us. Click image to watch the video .

Our economy, our democracy, and our society would all benefit from reducing inequality and increasing equality of opportunity.
The Price of Inequality by Joseph E. Stiglitz
According to Chris Dixon at Startup School 2013, there are two ways to develop startup ideas: through direct experience with tools/technologies, problems, perspectives; or through abstract things like analyst reports, trends, analogies (Airbnb for X, Uber for Y). The best ideas come through direct experience. The abstract things tend to be an encapsulation of conventional wisdom. When you diff your direct experience with conventional wisdom, that’s where the best startup ideas come from.
To enable our young people to build the next set of great companies and to solve the critical crises of our time it is important to give them the direct experience of building the digital and organic infrastructure necessary for the urban agriculture revolution.
Personal Food Computer

Caleb Harper, Director of MIT’s Open Agriculture Initiative, showing students how controlled environment plant-growing works.

After this event we will start work on building a Personal Food Computer. Contact us if you are be interested in being involved.

We need New Rochelle to be a part of the digital revolution in urban agriculture and bridge both the digital and health divide.
Student with vegetable

Students throughout Boston grew vegetables in controlled-environment boxes for Thanksgiving last year.

Success Indicator

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