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August 09, 2010 - Image 5

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2010-08-09

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A 'real' writer
W hy don't you get off seventeen pages. You've heard it
your soapbox every before, but beginning your work
once in a while?" my in the morning and writing at
uncle said, ref- least five pages is the only way to
erencing my col- get anything done. Then there was
umns. I respect that glorious day when I wrapped,
his opinion - he's to put it in film-speak. Soon after,
a former assis- however, came the crash where
tant cameraman, there was nothing left to do but
after all, and he slowly ponder ideas for a sequel.
taught me every- A writers' conference came at just
thing I need ANNA the right moment, as did securing
to know about PAONE a slot for a pitch session.
gate-crashing
the entertainment industry. And
pointstI'm not interested in b ng I have a long way
angry all the time. So I'm going t I almost
to slow it dow n this w eek, w ith a i O , but g h e r e .
little meditation on my novel. * >
By the time you're reading this didn't get here.
editorial, I will have officially
pitched my first complete rough
draft to a small publishing house. I'm still not sure what I hope
And even though I am often reluc- to gain by publishing. Everyone
tant to admit that I'm one more always says, "Don't expect to
young person punching out an make money as an author," and
almost-roman a clef, it's an occa- I never did until I started run-
sion for reflection. ning up debt going to the Univer-
I still have a long way to go, but sity and thought about how nice
I almost didn't get here in the first it would be to garner a little cash
place. In ninth grade, I embarked via my labor of love. And I do plan
on a special out-of-school writ- on aggressively pursuing produc-
ing class, and found my precocity ers to option a movie adaptation,
challenged by a jovial teacher who which would be even more of a
equated daring vulgarity with art- dream come true than publication,
istry. At the time, my problem with if that's possible. I'd love to see my
this was not so moral as it was ideas colorized and gilded in cellu-
that I didn't have anything to say loid and projected to more people
that required profanity or sexual than would ever buy the book,
themes. Of course, I believe whole- And while I've gotten better at
heartedly that when the story calls handling criticism since starting
for such content, and that it can this column, I'm still not interest-
be done in a way that honors the ed in The New York Times Book
human spirit, one cannot shrink Review casting its learned eye
from adding such themes. But his over my little tale. Nevertheless,
teaching led me to toss gratuitous this book has to go somewhere.
curse words into my dialogue and I gave it to God every morning at
write about affairs to make my those Masses and the characters
ethos-lacking stories more accept- began to walk and talk on their
able. When I couldn't do this, I felt own, as they are wont to do, as
stunted, believing lwould never be I scrambled to build a satisfac-
a "real writer." Over the past year, tory structure, like Ariadne con-
I hammered the last nail into the structing dreams in Inception.
coffin of my old pedagogue's phi- It's something I want book-crazy
losophy and started to write what teenagers to drink in - one more
I wanted to write. quality libation in the ever-grow-
Since then, I've finished my first ing pile of YA works.
substantial, serious rough draft. That makes my intentions sound
For the first few months of this a lot nobler than they are. But it's
break, I would go to eight o'clock normal after having written some-
Mass and, on a good day, start thing to want it published. So I'll
writing around 9:45.I would work put it out there, hoping for a kind
straight through until I watched review, hoping for a movie ver-
sports highlights at noon. On a sion and hoping I inspire someone
wonderful day, I would punch out in some intangible way. Someday,
a few more pages in the afternoon perhaps, I might be able to hope for
before I hunkered down for "The a check for my troubles.
Bachelorette" in the evening. (I'm
a sucker for trashy reality shows.) - Anna Paone can be reached
The best I ever did in a day was at apaone@umich.edu.

Monday, August 9, 2010
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

5

SIMON BORST

E-MAIL SIMONAT SIMKAL@UMICH.EDU.

c

Nourishing Detroit

xpressing my enthusiasm
for the city of Detroit gets
me into different kinds of

conversations,
depending on
whom I'm talking
to. Many people,
especially those
who have been liv-
ing in this area for
a long time, don't
understand my
positivity. They
react with disin-
terest or dispar-

CAROLYN
LUSCH

aging comments, and I nearly always
end up defensive. This wasn't the
case, though, during a recent conver-
sation with an out-of-stater passion-
ate about ecology and food systems.
"Detroit! There are really exciting
things happening there," he asserted.
And he's right.
Because of the role the University
has had in several projects, many
students already know that those
exciting things largely concern food
production and distribution in the
city. Detroit has long been consid-
ered a food desert, meaning that res-
idents don't have adequate access to
reasonably-priced fresh food. In the
last few years, several creative peo-
ple have envisioned ways to address
this problem.
Two University alums, Noam
Kimelman and Zachary Markin,
have received a lot of attention
recently for the organization - Get
Fresh Detroit - that they started as
a result of a class in 2010. Aware of
the prevalence of small convenience
and liquor stores around Detroit,
they provide fresh fruits and vege-
tables to these distributors. I spoke
with Mr. Kimelman recently about
the strategy and vision of Get Fresh.
It's a unique system in that the
organization attempts to provide
food in a manner that is both sus-
tainable and profitable for the store
owners, meaning that no store will
jump in out of short-lived good will,

but rather to be part of a "systemic
change."
Making produce profitable for a
convenience store means making it
similar to its other products: pack-
aged, easy and convenient with a
longer shelf life. It also involves a
concept that may seem startling:
aggressively marketing vegetables.
Mr. Kimelman explained that just
as potato chips wouldn't sell with-
out widespread advertising by the
manufacturers, simply "sticking a
yellow squash on the shelf" is not
enough. A large part of the organiza-
tion's mission is reaching out to the
community and spreading the word
about their products. Future plans
for Get Fresh Detroit include work-
ing toward 100-percent local sourc-
ing and building local partnerships.
This fits well with the larger
movement to both improve food
access to Detroiters and improve
awareness of what exactly con-
stitutes sound nutrition. Another
branch of this effort, which has been
growingin Detroit for decades, is the
creation of neighborhood and com-
munity gardens. Detroit has a par-
ticularly unique position for urban
agriculture given the large amounts
of vacant land. The Greening of
Detroit provides resources and sup-
port for communities and individu-
als who want to start gardens.
Another critical part of their mis-
sion, though, is environmental educa-
tion. Just like sticking a squash on a
shelf, sticking a few seeds in a vacant
lot doesn't make a difference unless
it comes along with outreach to the
community. When I worked for The
Greening of Detroit last summer, I
helped children plant trees and flow-
ers in their school lots and taught
them basic elements of environmen-
tal knowledge, like how ecosystems
and food chains function. Through
that experience, they began to under-
stand their relationship with the out-
side world we know as nature.
Many community gardens give

children and adults the profound
opportunity to see a vegetable travel
through its entire life cycle, from a
seed in their hand to a meal on their
plate. When you plant a squash and
tend to it every day, you understand
the effort necessary to produce such
aseeminglysimple object. You see the
fruit form, at first no bigger than your
finger, then over weeks miraculously
nearing the size of your forearm. It's
impossible, following the life of this
food, to not understand that the pro-
duction of such a squash took work
- that it required energy. You can
then visualize the transfer of energy
into your body when you eat it. You
understand the link between your
daily activities and the sun, rain and
soil. You realize your dependence on
a balanced energy system and, hope-
fully, feel a need to protect that deli-
cate arrangement.
Until recently,
Detroit was a
fresh food desert.
Let me reiterate, Ann Arbor and
the University are not isolated from
these exciting developments. Aside
from Universityties with Detroit and
the work of entrepreneurial alumni,
Project Grow maintains organic
community gardens throughout the
Ann Arbor area, and students both
garden at home and participate in
Community Supported Agriculture
Programs. With so many different
ideas and methods of improving
fresh food access, southeast Michi-
gan can take a leading role in the
development of a new, more just and
sustainable system of producing and
distributing food.
-Carolyn Lusch can be reached
at Icarolyn@umich.edu.

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