I have always aspired to advance charismatic communities over charismatic individuals. But at this stage in history we humans seem to better enter the story of a charismatic community with a preliminary focus on the key heavy lifter(s) of that emerging miracle. For us…Big Dog, Big Bang Emmanuel Pratt.
We began our partnership with conversations, in the theory realm, about the importance of Schumacher’s “Small is Beautiful,” Andre Gorz’s notions of radical reform, Grace Lee Boggs’ American ®Evolution, and Dr. ML King’s beloved community construction. In the domain of practice, we focused on the path breaking work of Will Allen and his Growing Power team, Sharon and Jerry Adams’ Walnut Way, and Josh Fraundorf and Steve Lindner’s Sweet Water Organics. We imagined Emmanuel’s doctoral candidacy in urban planning and architecture at Columbia University involving a paradigm shifting construction of a “living dissertation” with a theory/practice involvement with three models of urban transformation: (l) a community model, i.e. Growing Power; (2) a neighborhood model, i.e. Walnut Way; and (3) a market model, i.e. Sweet Water Organics(SWO).. In collaboration with Community Roofing & Restoration’s Josh Fraundorf, who provided the money and social network to launch SWO, we intended to distill the best of these three models into a hybrid enterprise we came to call “The Academy” among our associates, the Sweet Water Foundation(SWF), for the wider community.
Pratt To Growing Power
Emmanuel arrived at Growing Power in the Fall/Winter of 2008.
Community Roofing’s Josh Fraundorf believed in my collaboration with Big WIll and Emmanuel, and assumed near complete responsibility for the company I founded in 1975 and which paid my bills over the years. Pratt and I explored Milwaukee’s urban ag scene in the same big old Community truck that we later used to haul tens of thousands of pounds of food waste from a Big Box Pic and Save store later on.
And we set up “fluid offices” at a number of locations, including what we called The Project House at 325 E. Euclid, where Pratt stayed and worked in his Milwaukee travels from his Chicago and Columbia University base.
When I introduced him to Big Will Allen (I served on the GP Board 2005 to 2009) I said, “Will, I would like to introduce you to who will become the Lebron James of Urban Agriculture.” I had told Will in 2005 that I would be John Stockton to his Karl Malone.
Will was quickly impressed with Pratt’s spirit force, but also with his skills in photography, film, and “information architecture.”
Will would come to call Emmanuel “Webster,” by virtue of his ability to harness the power of the internet, including creating WIl’s first power point.
“Webster” quickly became one of WIll’s key collaborators, most notably helping Will navigate the world of White House Farmer through Pratt’s relationship with Obama’s chef Sam Katz. Will was consulting with Emmanuel right up to the 15 minutes prior to entering the White House to meet the First Lady.
If you would like to sneak a peak at the images supporting my memory of this adventure, go to Professor Pratt’s: