Masterplanning Anthony “Ute” Petit, BFA ID/Tex ‘18
In gearing up for our masterplan unveiling, O.N.E. Mile has been working to address ways in which agricultural production can provide infrastructure for other cultural modes of engagement. Given the context of the urban farm, they tend to be in areas of minority populations who tend to see less amenities than white Americans living in the suburbs. Specific to Detroit, a major issue is the lack of grocery stores, being only 3 major grocery stores within the city limits, (not including independent stores). Many people are left to source their food from liquor stores and corner stores to find sustenance, which in the long run can really add up.
The urban farm in this “post-apocalyptic” landscape creates a great opportunity to think beyond typical agricultural structures. One aim of our work has been to tackle the trauma that Black people have with land. By creating curiosity surrounding the fauna of agriculture, we hope to engage the community to learn more about the fruits of the land we inhabit. We also consider the historical context of the crops we grow, as means to foster a relationship with other living organisms which sustain us. Consider the number of fruits and vegetables we eat today that were introduced as a result of the transatlantic slave trade; watermelons, squash, yams, greens, plantain, etc.
As the masterplan process and model comes together, centering African culture is a priority as the project grows. In conversations with some of the artists in the neighborhood, it is important to consider how we can move beyond the prescriptive narrative that has been crafted for Black Americans. How do we reclaim our story and begin to truly create new ones? Afrofuturism is impossible without imagination, which is why our upcoming unveiling is so crucial to the soul of ONE Mile. By reimagining what is a farm, it becomes possible to grow far more than just fruits and vegetables.
Our event will pay homage to that, as a collective of community members, farmers, performers, musicians, artists, and designers, will all contribute to creating that future. We will carve out a new space in time, in continuity with our ancestors, and those who are to follow. “Crop Up!” will feature an orchestra using farm tools as instruments, an installation 100 handmade masks, among other programming. It will be an example of what ONE Mile will continue to pioneer far into the future, and how community initiated growth can extend far and wide by using food as the medium. That is Afrofuturism.