Will Allen of "Growing Power"
Sunday, Jun. 28, 2015
Former professional basketball player Will Allen founded “Growing Power” in Milwaukee in 1993. Allen’s organization promotes sustainable food production, as well as the growth of communities through the creation of local gardens and community food systems. They implement their mission by providing demonstrations, hands-on training, outreach and technical assistance.
Allen played his college ball in Florida, but the former Miami Hurricane has made a bigger name for himself in the dirt than on the court. An urban farmer, entrepreneur and activist, Allen's achievements are numerous and include helping the White House promote efforts to combat obesity in children. In an address he delivered in Washington, D.C., he stated "...we need to have a garden at every school". Then he turned the podium over to First Lady Michelle Obama. His invitation to join First Lady Obama was merely one honor on a wall of them for Allen, whose life is defined by basketball the way Arthur Ashe was defined by tennis or Bono has been classified by music.
The University of Miami's director of athletics, Kirby Hocutt stated that "... Allen has used his life to empower and enrich so many peoples' lives and there is not a more noble goal than that".
This is not to say the hoops stuff was inconsequential. The son of a South Carolina sharecropper, Allen grew up in Rockville, Md., and became the first African-American basketball player in University of Miami history. He averaged 17.2 points and 12.2 rebounds per game, and he still ranks 17th on the Hurricanes' career scoring chart with nearly 1,300 points in only three seasons. He scored 20 or more points in 28 of his 75 career games and was the Hurricanes' leading scorer and rebounder as a senior.
In 1971-72, he played seven professional games for the ABA's Floridians, a vagabond outfit that split its home schedule between Miami Beach and Tampa Bay and folded after the season. That turned out to be the key to Allen's future. He played the next five years in Belgium, where he would spend off days in the countryside, marveling at farmers' ability to generate crops with compost piles.
After a marketing career with Proctor & Gamble, he retired and got into agriculture by buying farmland owned by his wife's family. From there, he purchased Growing Power, a nursery that was as good as bankrupt. It is an odd place for an agricultural revolution. Three blocks from Wisconsin's largest housing project, a 726-unit facility known as Westlawn, Allen preaches the gospel of home-grown produce. He says corporate America does the populace an injustice by serving up convenient, fatty food that is virtually unavoidable.
"When we look at our inner cities, we see areas where major grocery stores have decided theyre not going to put stores," Allen told a recent audience. "Our folks have no place to go but the corner stores which have a lot of really bad food, and fast-food restaurants".
Farmers have been displaced by suburban expansion that is not going away. Rather than simply lament, Allen believes there is still a way to maximize the land that does remain. He lionizes worms, which turn seemingly worthless land into fertile ground. He uses them as the tacit keynote speakers of educational seminars that inspire attendees to get dirty.
His advocacy has not gone unnoticed. In the past five years, three major foundations have given Growing Power a total of $1 million to create jobs and generally spread the word that we need not beholden to the mass-production world. The work keeps Allen busier than the worms he embraces. He is a much sought after speaker - engagements have taken him to Lynchburg, Va., Seattle, Vancouver, St. Louis, New York, Miami, Cincinnati and Washington D.C.
At a White House presentation, Allen concluded his remarks by saying "...everybody seems to be coming together: corporations, universities, political folks - they're all coming together to sit at the table with folks like farmers, and that is important. We can't just blame each other - what we need is action because our kids are suffering".
In 2008, Allen was awarded a MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant for “Growing Power’s” work in urban farming and sustainable food production. In 2010, Time magazine named him one of the world’s “100 Most Influential People”.
In addition to growing a variety of fruits and vegetables on their farm on the north side of Milwaukee, Allen and his “Growing Power” team raise fish, worms, bees, goats, chickens, turkeys, and ducks. The organization conducts workshops and demonstrations in aquaculture, aquaponics, vermiculture, horticulture, small and large-scale composting, soil reclamation, food distribution, beekeeping, and marketing.
According to Allen “…a rapidly rising rate of obesity in generation after generation has led to alarming rates of diabetes and heart disease so that for the first time in America, despite all our advances in medicine, our life expectancy is falling.” To combat this alarming trend, Allen advocates for a return to localized food systems so that where good food isn't affordable, communities can be taught to grow it themselves.
Will Allen is a dynamic speaker. Admission to this inspiring presentation is free, but... those attending are asked to bring three non-perishable food items to the event and donate them at the collection truck that will be located outside the theatre, prior to Allen’s presentation.
Perhaps the key component of Allen's message is: “Finally, we are learning that treating illness is much less effective than preventing illness by promoting health; and that good food is the best and most fundamental preventive medicine of all."
For more information, or to reserve your free seat, call:
- Range Master Gardener Lynn Adams at 906-932-3509 or click to email Lynn
- Iron County U-W Extension office at 715-561-2695
- Zona Wick at the Iron County Health Department at 715-561-3009 or click to email Zona
- To register click here and add your name to the bottom of the list
PFCT Presents Peter Pan
Saturday, Jun. 27, 2015
Fly away to Neverland, as approximately 75 local children take the stage along with two professional actors, in Prairie Fire Children’s Theatre’s (PFCT) original musical production of Peter Pan. With script and music by Daniel Nordquist, and costume and set design by Deborah Pick, Peter Pan continues PFCT’s tradition of presenting classic tales as you’ve never seen them done before. Join Peter Pan, Wendy, John, Michael, Nana, Tinkerbelle, The Crocodile, The Pirates, The Lost Kids, and the other inhabitants of Neverland.
Musical highlights include Hook & the Pirates singing “I’m Always Looking Behind”; Tiger Lil and the Indians singing “PlayBall!”, Peter, Lil and the Lost Kids rendition of “Not Doin’ a Thing!” and the entire ensemble join together in “Do You Believe in fairies?” Two shows. 2pm and 6pm
If you, or your son, daughter, grandson, granddaughter, niece, nephew, or young neighbor or friend are between 7 and 18, and would like to be part of this exciting production, read on...
Auditions will be held on Monday, June 22, starting at 9:00 am. The audition process lasts up to two hours and all those auditioning are required to be in attendance for its entirety.
Rehearsals will be held from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm for the remainder of the week, with performance scheduled for Saturday June 27 at 2:00pm and 6:00 pm. Two professional actor/directors from Prairie Fire’s staff will direct the production and play the roles of Tiger Lil and Captain Hook.
Thanks to generous sponsorship by Gogebic Range United Way, participation in the week-long program is free.
Prairie Fire Children's Theatre
"Catch the Fire!!!"
Saturday, Jun. 20, 2015
Ever wanted to know what it's like to be a T-bird or a Pink Lady but never quite felt cool enough to pull it off? Well, now is your chance to don those pink jackets, grease up those quiffs, and let your inhibitions go, as we set the wayback machine to Rydell High School in 1959 for an evening where you are the star and remember GREASE is the word...
The brand new singalong version of the classic film starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John is brought to you by the producers of Sing-a-long-a Sound of Music.
The evening begins with your hosts leading a vocal warm-up before they show you how to use your free Magic Moments Fun Packs. You'll even get a chance to learn how to hand jive. Then sit back and watch Danny, Sandy and the rest of the gang, while you sing and dance along to the lyrics as shown on the screen. It couldn’t be easier... or more fun!
And come early - check out the display of hot rods and other classic cars in front of the theatre by our friends The Klassic Kruisers.
If you were here for Sing-a-long Sound of Music, you know how much fun is in store for us. It is so much more than a movie - it's a community and audience involvement event! Dressing up is strongly encouraged and full audience participation essential.
Thanks to the Awkward Stage Drama Club, the Klassic Kruisers, and the management and staff at the Ironwood Burger King for their support for this wacky, too-much-fun-to-describe-in-words event!