Detroit is one of the most fascinating places on earth. It’s like the best and worst of the world, all tangled in a pile of broken dreams and amazing courage and dilapidated skyscrapers and economic revival and rampant crime. There are incredibly brave and revolutionary people who live in Detroit, and I won’t get too much into the city politics here, but there is also a lot of corruption and greed and it’s incredibly hard for people to make a difference there. For those of you unfamiliar with Detroit, it is amazingly poor. It has three times the national poverty rate. The high school graduation rate is up to sixty two percent but certain studies show that the illiteracy rate of people in the city proper hovers around fifty percent. In 2012, Detroit was neck and neck with New Orleans for the title of Murder Capital and it usually ranks in the top five. With blocks and blocks of abandoned and burned out houses it’s not an easy place to live, especially for pregnant and teen mothers. For students who attend the Catherine Ferguson Academy , they are required to be accepted by at least one college by the time they graduate. They is daycare on site. There is also a very large garden, which is referred to as the farm.
From The Grown In Detroit website:
Grown in Detroit focuses on the urban gardening efforts managed by a public school of 300, mainly African-American, pregnant and parenting teenagers. In Detroit alone, there are annually more than 3,000 pregnant teenagers who drop out of high school. This school is one of three that focus on urban gardening and this population located in the United States. As part of the curriculum, the girls are taught agricultural skills on the school’s own farm which is located behind the school, in what used to be the playground. The young mothers, often still children themselves, learn to become knowledgeable about the importance of nutritional foods, the process by which these foods arrive at their plates, and ultimately, to become independent and self-empowered through the process of farming. Many of them start out disliking the often physically hard work on the farm, but this aversion disappears as they see the fruits of their labor growing and being sold for profit. “Back to the roots” has sprouted as a simple yet effective solution for Detroit. As industrial models fail, this is a solution to be replicated in other former industrial giants the world over.
It’s an amazing program. There is a documentary about the school:
And now, for the part that will infuriate you, from the Detroit Free Press:
Seven chickens and five goats — which appeared to have been bludgeoned or had their necks hacked — were found dead Friday at the farm run by Catherine Ferguson Academy in Detroit, a school official said.
The farm is tended to by students of the alternative high school, which serves pregnant and parenting teens. The students run the nationally recognized farm, growing vegetables, milking the goats, making cheese and pasteurizing milk. In addition to the deaths, two other chickens were found injured and a cat, which has not been found, also is believed to be injured, a school official said.
The only saving grace of this story is the girls do not have school on Friday so they did not arrive to find their beloved animals slaughtered. I don’t know how these young moms explain this to their own children, because their kids are in charge of feeding the goats. And if you want your heart to break a little bit more, Principal Asenath Andrews said:
“I’m worried about the girls,” she said. “The animals belong to the girls. The girls belong to me. I’m worried about them, not the animals. I’m worried about their safety.
Andrews said she wants to make her students feel safe.
“This is a place that’s safe for them, no matter what the rest of the world is like,” she said. “No matter how crazy everything gets, you get to school, school’s where we can help you.”
I’m worried about the girls too, and this is such an innovative and wonderful program and I just can’t believe people would have the utterly cruelty to commit a crime this horrific.The girls milk the goats, make cheese, pasteurize milk and grow vegetables, and then the students sell their products, including eggs, at Detroit’s Eastern Market. I want to wrap my arms around all of them and help them heal from this and I hope the police and the Humane Society find out who is responsible and they get a very severe punishment. It’s incredibly hard to be a teen mom who is trying to make a better life for herself and her child, and then to have something this ugly and cruel happen in the one place that they feel they can make a difference really breaks my heart.
(Image: You Tube)