The Minneapolis People for Liberation and Solidarity (MPLS) Initiative stands for community control of the local food supply by partnering with nearby organic farms and/or farmer collectives as managed by a Soil and Farm Council (SFC). The SFC will prioritize building healthy soil while invigorating the local farm-to-neighborhood food network. The SFC will develop methods to sequester atmospheric carbon in soil and work to scale up promising approaches to close the carbon cycle and mitigate climate change. The SFC would relieve Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board (MPRB) of responsibility for community gardens, food forests, pesticide elimination, and any other food or farm related program. In collaboration with agriculture specific Community Land Trusts (CLTs), the Soil Council will work to connect urban farm and community garden markets with nearby organic farms to grow more and greater variety of foods. Working with the Minneapolis Urban Park Service (MUPS) and Health Wellness and Healing Council (HWHC) the SFC will build permanent and mobile fresh food outlets to feed residents in urban food deserts. The SFC will transition Minneapolis parks into pesticide-free urban food forests and return natural ground water flow systems.

The SFC, like all the other municipal councils proposed by the MPLS Initiative, will be an elected office. Commissioners will be chosen by Minneapolis residents and will be accountable to their constituents. Through the SFC and allied Community Land Trusts, the people will be able to control their food chain, environment, and relationship with more rural farm communities. Food producing land is literally “common ground” for urban and rural people because it feeds all of us. In context of carbon sequestration and staving off climate change, reconnecting modern humanity to the planet is critical for our survival and that starts with healthy soil, a sustaining environment, and really good food.

Photo Credit: Russ Henry

The value of locally grown and community-controlled food network was underscored by the Covid pandemic and the Minneapolis Uprising in 2020. Imagine if Minneapolis already had been distributing healthy local food through the parks, community gardens, and mobile food trucks when the global supply chain stocking the big box store shelves was disrupted by the pandemic, or when the neighborhood grocery store was shut down and boarded up. The generosity of Minneapolis, St. Paul, and the metro region was on full display as neighbors pitched in to help with food drives and community clean-up. Imagine if that generosity were reflected in our city government. If instead of sending bulldozers and armored cops with pepper spray to the shanty towns in our parks, our city sent Park Rangers, healthcare workers, and social service workers with food, clothes, cots, access to sanitary facilities, and connection to city housing services. For too long the resources of the city have been channeled to good ole friends networks and the non-profit industrial complex instead of being used to directly support the efforts of residents to stand with their neighbors and communities.

Healthy soil grows healthy cities filled with healthy residents. For decades – even centuries – the ruling oligarchs have treated the land their ancestors stole from the indigenous peoples like the spoils of plundering conquest. The concept that nature is something to be beaten and walled into submission for the benefit of the capitalist’s private interests and providing for a few what should be accessible to all is at odds with logic and life. That perspective is deeply connected to white supremacy, not only because it is the product of conservative white men, but also because it shares a vile trait with chattel slavery. It commoditizes what could be a positive, cooperative, connection with other human beings and treats them as property to be owned, bought, and sold. Humans need to understand that we are of this planet. We grew up here. It’s our home town. We live here together, or we will join the list of extinct species. Either way, the Earth will continue to spin and life will go on.

Photo Credit: Russ Henry

It is time to begin healing our societal separation from the Earth and land on which we now live and contemplate rebuilding Minneapolis. I will not pretend to know how to do so, but I feel like it might start with the history of the land and the stories of the people that lived with it. It seems logical to me that we would stop trying to consume every resource and sell off the remains, and instead consider the concept of a sustainable city. A Minneapolis in balance with the environment that can sustain itself through connection to nearby small farms and greenhouses. A city in balance, or at least working to be, with the history of it’s land, the residents, and the egregious excesses of capitalism.