This is a letter inspired by my participation in a gathering on August 21, 2006 at the Riverwest Co-op.
What a pleasure to meet up with you yesterday along the Lake!
Perhaps it will turn out to be an “historic moment” as well!
Last night I hosted a gathering at the Riverwest Co-op Cafe with DCD Commissioner Rocky Marcoux, some preservationists, some “internet empowerment enterprisers,” and some veterans advocates.
I have been working intensely with many fine souls for about 3 years to save the Soldiers Home and consider Mayor Barrett’s and Rocky Marcoux’s proposal an excellent starting point to guard this treasure from crass commercial development.
The veterans are intensely against any kind of commercial development and any kind of development that does not directly benefit the health care of veterans.
The national VA wants no part of the cost of the historic sector of the Soldiers Home and Grounds.
The city wants to be able to afford taking the site over and initiating a public planning process that would eventuate in a preserved Soldiers Home that wins veterans and taxpayers approval.
It seems to me that your concepts regarding the connection between urban agriculture and health might prove a key to a compromise between the veterans’ demands and the City’s financial challenges.
Might you consider drafting some kind of statement I could share with the parties to this civic drama of immense import regarding your farthest reaching vision of the way in which organic gardens and fisheries can heal people while generating revenue possibilities from sales and demonstration grants?
Might you also widen the circle of attention to the Save the Soldiers Home Movement through your associates at the Medical College of Wisconsin?
Commissioner Marcous has committed to at least 3 similar gatherings in September, October, and November. It is my ambition to use the time in between for on-line brainstorming and intelligence gathering among veterans, the civil society, and the government, in hopes of a Grand Alliance to Save the Soldiers Home.
The internet affords common people, veterans and civilians alike, an opportunity for participatory democracy.