Bloomberg grants

Tons of good info in the grant/contest application for the $5 million prize (or one of four $1 million prizes) that Knoxville sent to the Bloomberg Philanthropies mayors challenge.

For those of you not up to speed on the contest, go here.

Some of the high points from the application:

Our starting line includes already adopted resolutions to allow goats, hens, and some community gardens, but there are still ordinances and zoning modifications to adopt before this model will have a strong infrastructure.

Step one is logically assessing legal and insurance mechanisms that will allow this idea to materialize into reality, modifying language and definitions accordingly.

Step two is role definition with partners to create a road map of responsibility that will lead to success: who is responsible for city-deeded lot management, what local not-for-profit will foster urban farm employees, what business community
donations will augment equipment purchase, the transportation logistics of moving produce to market, and what local establishments will be consistent buyers.

Step three involves a small scale pilot of the project in east Knoxville to remove any system kinks, and refine the program accordingly. East Knoxville is home to large scale blight and unemployment. Providing access to opportunity is a large
component of this cycle, so starting small in this place of need is strategic.

It’ll take a year or two to get this thing moving, which is within a single term for the mayor, but she has plans to seek reelection anyway:

Mayor Rogero was elected to her first term in 2011 and in 2015 plans to run again.

And the people and places near blight are expected to get connected:

We own 184 vacant lots. We have an 8% unemployment rate that is even higher in proximity to blight. We have a skilled team who understands legislation barriers, and a plan to address those. We have nonprofits specifically skilled in training growers and in maintaining plots.

We have over 500 faith based kitchen facilities throughout the community and a strategy for approaching them.

We have a burgeoning food culture that demands cohesion. Currently lacking the details of the business plan, we will involve the Chamber’s small business think-tank to develop a
solid economic model that is transferable to other cities.

Building the farming infrastructure on a lot-by-lot basis: storage sheds, water hookups and tools – will be a challenge at first, but not insurmountable.

Other odds and ends:

Knoxville struggles with concentrated areas of poverty close to downtown, in which residents do not have access to healthy food. According to the Food Research and Action Center Report (Food Hardships in America, 2011), Knoxville ranked 17 th in the nation for areas lacking food accessibility. The State of Tennessee ranked 6th. Food deserts are especially plentiful in the southeast, despite temperate climates and an agricultural history.

– snip –

This model is the future. It repurposes the unused infrastructure of previous generations to remove food desert from the hearts of our communities. The most exciting part of this proposal is that it touches on the most integral parts of our lives – food and health, and brings it home.


About Gerald

A journalist in Knoxville, TN. Work (mostly) inside and play (mostly) outside. I'm a part of the X or the Y generation. None of us claim the other.
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