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Thread: Urban Homesteading

  1. #1

    Urban Homesteading

    Recently, I was introduced to the idea of urban homesteading and reclamation through Metatropolis, which is a near-future anthology about changes and transformation in cities.

    Today, I'm reading in Rolling Stone (sorry, print only) about this guy, John Fetterman, who's trying to do those kinds of things in Braddock, PA. Braddock's average house price is around $6000. He's been moderately successful in attracting artists and a bunch of other homesteading types to this town, and has started projects like urban farms. His critics accuse him of promoting gentrification.

    He's also appeared on Colbert recently. His profiles have been popping up all over the place. What do people here think? Is this is a viable revitalization strategy?

 

  • #2
    That's Wacist! Mistwell's Avatar
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    You forgot to mention that the guy you are referring to is the Mayor of the town.

    Here is the city website, which I found pretty interesting. In fact, their ruins section is chalk full of photos waiting for a d20 modern or similar campaign.

    [ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NhhQmrUKMsg&feature=player_embedded[/ame]
    Last edited by Mistwell; May 26th, 2009 at 07:19 PM.
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  • #3
    It's a cool idea, for an ambitious person who doesn't mind a lot of physical labor.

    I'd worry about toxic ground water and soil, if I were going to actually farm there. (Paging Mistress Pig, paging Mistress Pig! )

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    That's Wacist! Mistwell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Goblin Girl View Post
    It's a cool idea, for an ambitious person who doesn't mind a lot of physical labor.

    I'd worry about toxic ground water and soil, if I were going to actually farm there. (Paging Mistress Pig, paging Mistress Pig! )
    That was their first project - getting the water system to be more reliable. Of course that does not help the soil, but at least what's coming out of the tap seems more dependable now.
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  • #5
    Fascinating fellow
    Quote Originally Posted by nail bunny View Post
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  • #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Mistwell View Post
    Here is the city website, which I found pretty interesting. In fact, their ruins section is chalk full of photos waiting for a d20 modern or similar campaign.
    Clearly, many people think so. Braddock is going to be the backdrop for the film of Cormac McCarthy's "The Road." It's a bit sad than an actual town can be used as a convincing post-apocalyptic landscape, but it'll put it on the map in an even more significant way.

    It seems, though, that people also need to try these ideas in other blighted parts of the US, like in Detroit. But it can't be just artists. It seems that innovative entrepreneurs really need to get involved.

  • #7
    Awkward Pork Chops Dr. Piglet's Avatar
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    Rich people tend to follow artists, so getting artists to move in is a good place to start.

    GG's got a good point, you'd certainly want to look up the history of any piece of urban property before you grow food on it unless you could prove it had always been residential! The soil could hold all sorts of nasties depending on what had been there, which could be taken up by plants and then eaten... YUCK! That said, even residential properties could have contaminated soil - lead from lead-based exterior paint, for example. Or if the property is old enough, where did the residents dump their coal ash?

    Since the town seems to be on municipal water you wouldn't really need to worry about the groundwater for gardening purposes... unless of course there was a creek or lake close that the public water was being drawn from. If the property's history indicated a possible threat to the groundwater it would have to be addressed though.
    There are no uninteresting things, only uninterested people. ~G.K. Chesterton

  • #8
    To turn this thread in a more personal direction, how many CMers would consider taking up urban homesteading? How many CMers are near an area where this sort of activity would be viable?

  • #9
    The ENNIE Award Winning... kiznit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chryx View Post
    To turn this thread in a more personal direction, how many CMers would consider taking up urban homesteading? How many CMers are near an area where this sort of activity would be viable?
    We've got friends of family doing this in Detroit.

    It's not easy, and there have been a lot of regrets.

  • #10
    Quote Originally Posted by kiznit View Post
    We've got friends of family doing this in Detroit.

    It's not easy, and there have been a lot of regrets.
    Can you talk a bit about some of the challenges they've faced? I assume crime and personal safety is still a bit of an issue.

    What are they trying to accomplish?

  • #11

    Ah, Braddock......

    I recently spent a long weekend there with a group putting on an art exhibition. It was all art in which light was the common medium for the works. We stayed at the mayor's and vice mayor's places, which are a convent and convent school. The view from our "front yard" was entirely filled by a U.S. steel plant. Decidedly not your typical typical urban renovation neighborhood, though there are many similar qualities and issues. Fascinating place. (You know, I was just looking for a smilie to sum up - we just don't cover places like that.)

  • #12
    The problem with Detroit (ok, one of the problems) is the weather. That far north the winters are brutal, and the growing season is short. Not a good choice for farming.

    I might have been interested in something like this when I was in my 20s, but I'm not interested in that sort of risk-taking at this stage of my life.

  • #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Goblin Girl View Post
    The problem with Detroit (ok, one of the problems) is the weather. That far north the winters are brutal, and the growing season is short. Not a good choice for farming.
    There's always hydroponics. I'm sure you could import the expertise from Canada

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