Aminah Ricks

Founder & Creative Director
High & Low Rise Buildings Stand in Harmony

Along Sixth Avenue, buildings line the street, of varying heights and colors.

The city as living organism, reflects the people who live within; tall or short, new and old, eclectic or classic, standing together to create the mosaic of our communities.

Cityscape reflects life.

See more at Emerging City’s Instagram

 

Cover Photography: Aminah Ricks

 

Cultivating More than Veggies In Belize City

Tucked away on a long street in Belize City, lies the first Urban Garden in the country.  Belize, for all its lush landscape, actually imports a disproportionate amount of fresh fruits and vegetables.  Which makes The Urban Garden for Food Security and Peace, more than an urban garden, it is also a project which aims to empower residents to not just eat healthily, but also locally while becoming independent of costly imports. After visiting their garden, we interviewed the principal gardeners/activist to learn more.

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E.C.  When was the garden founded, was it the motivation of residents, city officials?

UGFSP As children we always had backyard gardens so gardening is not a new concept to some of us. The Urban Garden for Food Security and Peace is a Belize Action Community project that seeks to grow both people and trees to mitigate poverty. This idea was extended to other organizations and individuals in 2006, when Belize began holding mutual improvement alliance meetings at Liberty Hall in Belize City.  Many old and young people have participated so far and we continue to look for more organizations and people to step up to this task.  In 2015 after a youth summit, where we had young adult youth leaders from 5 Central American Countries, we found several passionate young Afro Belizean adults who wanted to be a part of a program that could positively influence their social, economic and environmental ambitions for themselves and Belize.  At this particular time food security and peace is of vital importance. All over the world and in Belize we are experiencing many diseases at alarming rates because of the food we eat that is harming the human body.

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E.C. How did you come up with the name?

UGFSP It was created by Louis E Guild of the Belize Action Community who has been involved with human and environmental development issues all his life.

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E.C. How many working members do you have and tell us a little bit about how you and others gave up paying jobs to be a part of this project?

UGFSP The UGFSP is a vocation for ten people. I (Emerson Guild) have had no greater joy than volunteering for this UGFSP Project.  Now our primary support comes from EmergentCorp, Belize Youth Department and The Ministry of Agriculture. These agencies along with others, continue to support the volunteers of the UGFSP. And yes there are four people, including myself, volunteering at the UGFSP who have given up paying jobs to be a part of this noble idea that continues to demonstrate self-reliance and team work.

Here is some of their feedback

  • Sheryl Joseph I joined the Urban Garden for Food Security and Peace because my sister introduced me to the garden, I was very inspired the very first time I stepped in the garden…learning about our vegetables and fruits was such a simple but yet, eye opening change. I’ve felt liberated to share the little info that I’ve learned.  The garden allowed me to do I always say to think right, you must eat right.
  • Jamal Reid In August 2015, Emergent Corp facilitated the 11th CABO youth summit, held at UWI (University of West Indies) in Belize City. Two to three weeks later we decided to embark on Our Urban Garden for Food Security and Peace mission with Kadeem Bennett the founder of Belize Volunteers Club and Mr. Emerson Guild Manager/Director of Emergent, I realized that it was something that I liked to do plus I really do enjoy teaching other people that come to visit the work we have done, especially the children that visit us from the schools since it shows them something important & meaningful that they can be doing with their lives.
  • Shenyl Joseph I gave up my paying job to be a part of the Urban Garden because I was tired of the call center and wanted something more, at the garden I see and feel creativity because I am creative.

E.C. What is the underlying issue in Belize City with fresh food that this garden aims to resolve?

UGFSP Creating food security and peace as a catalyst for environmental harmony in troubled communities.

E.C. We noticed that you have a composting area, tell us about that.

UGFSP We are composting and creating organic teas for fertilizer on our garden site with materials such as dry grass, fruit and vegetables peel, leaves, anything natural that can biodegrade and be used in a different way.

E.C. What have been the key successes so far and what do you hope to improve?

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UGFSP Here is our short list:

  1. The Urban Garden for Food Security and Peace is still active, especially since the flood that had destroyed/drowned almost 400 of our plants
  2. We have already harvested since the garden started Hot peppers, Bell/sweat peppers, and harvested almost every day is our Spinach, Callao and tomatoes.
  3. We have motivated a few people to start their own gardens.
  4. We have found different ways to do gardening with either vertical, raised beds or self-feeding boxes, using recycle materials such as empty plastic bottles etc.
  5. One of our members Kadeem Bennett visited Grenada to participate in an open forum about agriculture.
  6. Some of our members will get the chance to participate in a 2-week permaculture course which is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless labor; and of looking at plants and animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single product system.

We hope to improve in all aspects of us working together, whether it is in our personal development or in our everyday work at the Urban Garden, we’re definitely striving to improve in everything we do.

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E.C. What would you say is the most rewarding aspect?

UGFSP The most rewarding aspect of is harvesting the food from the plants, you learn something new each day, working together in unity.

E.C. How has the community responded?

UGFSP We have and continue to receive invitations to visit schools and community centers to deliver our message and also many residents have visited our Urban Garden.

E.C. What is the next step for your group, what is your biggest goal/aspiration?

UGFSP Our goal at UGFSP is to create and explore good practices and examples for food security and peace. Our daily work activities may seem casual but are very scientific in nature and geared to the pursuit of “LIFE” the activity in harmony with nature.

To learn more or offer support follow UGFSP on Facebook

Cycling Creates Currency

Urban cycling supports sustainable cities and ensures the health of its city-zens.  Yet at times it comes up in controversial conversations as well, such as cycling vs car lanes, helmet regulations, you get the idea.

Our friends at Momentum Mag propose yet another benefit of urban cycling to consider that is purely about dollars and cents.  They suggest a positive correlation between the presence of city cyclists and upticks in the economies of local shops.

An example is an art gallery owner in Memphis, Pat Brown, who pinned her hopes on “community members who were determined to transform Broad Avenue from a fast-moving thoroughfare, where traffic whizzed past boarded-up storefronts at 50 mph (80 km/h), into a bustling arts district”.

The local nonprofit group Livable Memphis, together with the Broad Avenue Arts District, put in a temporary cycling lane that ran down the street in front of her gallery.  After the protected bike lane opened, a local art walk that typically drew only 1,000 people attracted 15,000.  How’s that for thriving, not just surviving in these tough economic times.

And this trend is worldwide. Momentum reports “Researchers in Muenster, Germany suggest that because bicyclists buy smaller quantities and thus shop more frequently, they’re exposed more often to temptation – more likely to get extra items that aren’t on the shopping list. So it’s not surprising that a survey of 1,200 consumers in Bern, Switzerland, found that businesses made more profit per square meter of bike parking ($9,900 per year) than car parking ($8,800).”

Cycling with its slower travel patterns through commercial areas, economically benefits local businesses.  Sometimes, two wheels are better than four!

 

Photo Credit: Momentum Mag

Using Our Feet for Transport – Walk Your City

Walk [Your City] wants to encourage all city residents to get to know their city via their feet, therefore making cities more accessible and affordable for everyone.

“Want to get more feet on the street? Here are the tools you’ll need to plan, create, and install an effective Walk [Your City] campaign, tailored to your goals and community context.” Here’s a page on how to get started

Photo Credit: Emerson-Alecrim in San Paolo, Brazil

A Look at Shared Spaces – Brooklyn & Belize

Brooklyn and Belize have more in common than one might think.  In these varied urban environments, the need to congregate, eat local food and find new uses for existing public structures are universal commonalities.

(1) a parking lot, in a country where many don’t have cars and must hitch-hike, wisely becomes the home for a farmer’s market

(2) a forgotten high-rise roof becomes a community garden

(3) a fireman’s pier becomes a pizza for the people

(4) an abandoned wall becomes an open art gallery

Photo Credit: Aminah Ricks

A series of photography and viewpoints, with a lens on Brooklyn and Belize focused on the following urban trends:

construction methods
shared community spaces
public transportation
housing
ground level design

This week, construction methods.

How we build is as important as what we build. Be it the first or developing world, our choices have an impact. With a focus on function, as well as building materials and methods, we can make sustainability a priority.

Photo Credit: Aminah Ricks

Street Art Beautifies Construction Site

The city is ever changing. Established builds comes up against new construction in a continuing cycle of growth and improvement.

Sometimes this creates conflict. Other times it ignites inspiration.

In Pacific Park Brooklyn, a new neighborhood with many pending mix-use buildings underway, 10 Murals went up in 1 day (lead by artist Mike Perry). Setting up artistic eye candy to camouflage a huge construction eyesore.

Would you rather look at a cranes and dump trucks or art? We agree!

Photography Credit: Fabio Cuzzi

Building with Legos, Building the City

Above the din and noise of New York City
Monotone white Legos
Provide fodder and fun
Inspiring the art of building

All takes place
Beneath the scaffolding of construction workers
Their drills and machines
Raise the level of life
And living

Building community
Is not easy but possible
Using one Lego or brick at a time

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All Aboard the Mollie Bus!

You are in the mood to grocery shop. . . but not in the mood to figure out if you should drive, bike or take public transportation?

In San Francisco, there is an initiative that takes this question, out of the equation.

Mollie Stone’s chain of grocery stores has launched the Mollie Bus, a free service that takes you home from the grocery store, to your front door.

On their website, this is how they describe this alternative transport:

Here’s how it works:

  1. You catch it in front of the store.
  2. Your receipt is your bus ticket.  Just get on with your bag, and you’re on your way.
  3. It takes you to your doorstep.  Just tell the driver where you live.
  4. Please remember, it’s not a taxi.  It takes you home, but it won’t pick you up.

We think this is an idea worth replicating.

 

Photography Credit: Aminah Ricks

“Please Touch the Art”

The best way to experience a city is with all our senses.  It we are lucky, we continually have chances to see dynamic places or spaces within the urban landscape.  Too often we can only enjoy these aspects visually.

Jeppe Hein wants to change that in his open-air exhibit titled Please Touch the Art, presented as part of the Public Art Fund at the Brooklyn Bridge Park Program.

A review of this exhibit in Gothamist states:

“Likely to be the most heavily “touched” piece is “Appearing Rooms,” set on a platform right at the entrance to Pier 1 and, basically, acting as a water attraction, with impressively powerful jets building and collapsing walls to make four separate chambers over and over again. Time it right and you can enter the work without getting (too) wet. Time it wrong, as most of the dozens of kids were deliberately doing, and you’re sopping.”

Literally, you can see, touch, taste, smell and hear this exhibit.  Ready for summer everyone?!

Discover more here from the Public Art Fund.

Photography Credit: James Ewing

Elevating City Life