Here’s the official web site of the Sweet Water Foundation.
Nice Chicago NBC program on Sweet Water’s Emmanuel Pratt and the SWF’s collaboration with CCA Academy on the South Side of Chicago.
Sweet Water Foundation has been and continues to be recognized by the US Dpmnt of Agriculture and now the US Dpmnt of Energy for the educational/curricular/outreach work that we do with the 50+ schools we have worked with across 3 cities. Many sites have and continue to feature our work such as this http://www.urbanfarmonline.com/urban-farm-news/2012/08/10/sweet-water-foundation-makes-a-difference.aspx
Sweet Water Foundation is a key partner in the ACTS Housing project currently underway in Milwaukee offering solutions to address the dire situation of foreclosure in Milwaukee. http://www.milwaukeenns.org/2012/12/24/washington-park-partners-offers-doorbuster-on-foreclosed-homes/
This pilot project is being watched closely by Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and PNC bank for the potential to translate to other cities.
Sweet Water Foundation is highly recognized and respected in cities like Chicago as the work we did in Milwaukee inspired Chicago State University to appoint me as Director of the Chicago State Aquaponics Center, which also highlights the ongoing educational and outreach work Sweet Water Foundation does. The center is partially funded by both the USDA and the US Department of Education as a potential national model (also inspired by the IBM Smarter Cities Milwuakee report).
Building upon the work at the CSU Aquaponics Center, Sweet Water Foundation was just recognized for our efforts in Chicago as I was one of 5 individuals featured as one of 5 green award winners in Chicago (http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/April-2013/2013-Green-Awards-Emmanuel-Pratt/)
Sweet Water Foundation has been funded by the USDA and is being recruited by NASA for the outreach and educational work we do resulting from our Midwest Aquaponics Expertise Development (http://citiesprogramme.com/cities/americas/usa/milwaukee/maintaining-and-improving-water-quality/water-cleaning-and-reuse/midwest-aquaponics-expertise-development-initiative-maedi).
Sweet Water Foundation’s Seed to Table Project Pilot initiative has been recognized and awarded for two years with promise of future funding by Newmans Own Foundation under our name
Tomorrow I have a conversation with several media companies interested in featuring Sweet Water Foundation as part of several national Toyota Green initiatives (http://www.toyotagreen.com/)
For the past three days, Sweet Water Foundation has been highlighted in the American Planning Association national conference for the educational and outreach we do ‘growing neighborhoods’. It is worth noting that city planners all seem to see the potential translation of the model we have developed on the Cobbs properties and the greater implications it presents for the entire Rust Belt but also internationally.
After being asked to be featured at the National Science Foundation funded talk regarding ‘Challenges in Vertical Farming (http://challengesinverticalfarming.org/), Sweet Water Foundation has also been featured in a Global publication http://www.asabe.org/publications/resource-magazine.aspx as part of a series of upcoming publications along the theme of Controlled Environment Agriculture. The magazine features trends, new technologies, issues, and applications related to agricultural and biological engineering.
Tomorrow I will be leading a mobile tour of a group across our network of sites (see flyer attached and this link:
For the past 3 years, Sweet Water Foundation currently has had ongoing partnerships and is receiving increased interest with every major University in both Milwaukee and Chicago along with UW Madison for collaboration. All of these universities continue to get grant funding leveraging us as their partner. They also continue to publish papers in support of our work and impact. This does not include the national interest from Harvard, Cornell, Columbia, Dartmouth (many of which our team has either graduated from or worked with directly).
Sweet Water Foundation has been a key partner supporting the Organic Therapy Project with the Veterans in Milwaukee. Such was featured in the TEDx talk by Howard Hinterthuer of the Center for Veterans Issues (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObUoupoeJfw) as has since been discussed as a potentially national model.
Sweet Water Foundation was recently requested to be a listed partner in the USAID global submission with several partners in India and Kenya with which we have worked over the years as part of our Growing Networks initiative (http://growingnetworks.weebly.com/). Our submission was just received and we await response soon.
Sweet Water Foundations AQUAPONS program (funded and supported by MacArthur Foundation, Mozilla Foundation, and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundations) will be featured in the summer launch of the Chicago Summer of Learning program as part of a national platform to introduce new models of education.
(http://chicagosummeroflearning.org/ | http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/mayor/press_room/press_releases/2013/january_2013/mayor_emanuel_announcessummeroflearninginitiative.html)
From my perspective, the recent evolution of aquaponics/urban ag is somewhere between the evolution of the car with Henry Ford (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Ford) meets Apple with Steve Jobs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Jobs).
by James J. Godsil, ABD, co-founder Sweet Water Organics, Sweet Water Foundation President, Sweet Water Foundation
Sweet Water is an emergent, hybrid enterprise experiment, a social business and innovation center, advancing the commercialisation, democratisation, and globalisation of aquaponics, an eco system method of food production. But Sweet Water offers more than aquaponics produce and protein production. Sweet Water is a science lab; a school; an eco-tourist destination; an artist and tinkerer’s workshop; a community and new enterprise center. Sweet Water aspires to grow urban farmers, green tech start-up businesses, beloved communities, and… organic cities!
The Stars Aligning for Great Aquaponics Experiment
A sequence of events inspired me to team up with a web of partners to launch the Sweet Water experiment. The first happened in 2005 when young citizens at a public meetingin Riverwest Milwaukee, the most successful “integrating neighbourhood” in Wisconsin, challenged the community to constructively respond to an incident of “black on white, straight on gay” violence rather than pound drums of race rage. This inspired my deciding to check out Will Allen’s Growing Power, which I had heard involved an African American ex-pro basketball player harvesting urban “waste streams” to grow rich soil for use by teams of urban youth transforming vacant lots into community gardens. I was “seized as if by a madness” by the Growing Power “magic” and decided to intensely promote Will’s teams through the MilwaukeeRenaissance.com wiki platform. My work led to a front page story about Will in the local alternative weekly, “The Shepherd Express,” and a position on the Growing Power Board.
I focused deeply on the Growing Power model, both its food production systems, especially vermiculture and aquaponics, and its methods for “growing farmers and communities” with a hybrid model, aimed both at multiple income streams through standard market sales as well as funds from workshops, tours, foundations, donors, and public private partnerships.
A number of other developments were critical in setting the stage for the Sweet Water aquaponics experiment. In the spring of 2006 Michael Macy, a State Department cultural attache and new friend through our mutual interest in the poetry of Rumi, lent great luster to Milwaukee’s urban agriculture govement/industry when he orchestrated a London visit by Will Allen to address the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce as well as a visit by an eminent group of London “agrarians” in the Fall of 2007. The “London Farmers” then published a now classic report, “Edible Cities” including Growing Power projects in Milwaukee, Chicago, and New York. The Milwaukee Urban Agriculture Network(MUANbecame both an inspirational/educational coalition as well as a grass roots political force. In March, 2008, MUAN organized a highly successful international urban agriculture conference at which the head of Milwaukee’s Department of City Development, Rocky Marcoux, proudly proclaimed Milwaukee as the centre of American urban agriculture. A month later urban agriculture made front page news in Milwaukee, for the first time, with a report on a partnership between Fred Binkowski of the Great Lakes Water Institute and Growing Power to raise 10,000 perch in Will’s aquaponic system. Jon Bales’ Urban Aquaculture Centre connected Will to Binkowski, as well as drumming up community awareness of urban fish farming’s possibilities. In September 2008 Will won the coveted MacArthur genius award. My daughter Rachel Godsil, a law professor and convener of the Obama Urban Policy Team, introduced me to some of that group’s leadership, increasingly intrigued, as was First Lady Michelle Obama, by the flaws of oil based, unhealthy, and polluting industrial agriculture system. My business partner Josh Fraundorf led our roof system restoration company to a $40,000 profit for Sweet Water investing. His friend and business associate offered very low rent, $15,000 in capital, and the promise of another $20,000 in sweat equity as a partner in Sweet Water. Emmanuel Pratt, a doctoral candidate in Columbia University’s Planning and Architecture Department, film maker, and close associate of Will Allen, signed on the help out with the social business,
democratizing, and globalizing vision piece; Josh and Steve to focus on the commercial upscaling.
A “grand alliance” was manifesting! The stage was surely set for an impressive commencement on December 31, 2008, when the Mayor’s City Development chief, Rocky Marcoux, along with Will Allen, pledged to provide support for what has become an audacious experiment called Sweet Water.
Sweet Water Vision Shared at Wild Flower Bakery
The group proceeded from meetings at Wild Flower bakery to the new Sweet Water site. The building felt colder than it was outside.
ADD GODSIL picture
We believed aquaponics to be quite possibly humanity’s most earth friendly and prolific method of food production, a major response to the challenge of food security, global warming, and the transition from industrial cities of consumptive capitalism to organic cities with cultures of respect and care, for all life forms, in harmony with nature. We opened our story to the public and the media from the get go, despite the possibility of substantial mistakes. Zorba the Greek was present in my mind’s eye, as was this mantra: “You wished it stranger. You left the path of your own free will. And you are lost if you believe in danger.” The cause was important enough that it had to be tried. And, we’re still trying!
Continued at Sweet Water Chapter in CPUL Book
Click on to learn about Sweet Water collaborators thoughts about possibilities.
This from some university partners, written by Nicolas Lampert in conversation with Michael Carriere, of UWM and MSOE respectively.
Michael Carriere and I are in the early stages of housing an experimental cultural and independent media center inside Sweet Water Organics - a space for artists, designers, architects, scholars, filmmakers, scientists (natural and social), urban farmers, and others to meet, present work, collaborate on new work, and stage exhibitions. This space would be a hub space for art, ecology, and community engagement, and it would mirror the goals of the Sweet Water Foundation in teaching and exposing the ideas of urban sustainability, aquaponics, and the visionary idea of re-imagining Milwaukee as organic city – transforming the rust belt into a green belt.
Why Sweet Water? Sweet Water is an epicenter for creativity and is a visionary project that inspires people throughout the world. Sweet Water transforms the city and it transforms lives. Sweet Water is already a hub space for those interested in ecology and urban agriculture. It is not necessarily a destination site for artists, musicians, writers, historians, scholars, and others in the arts and humanities.
This is a lost opportunity.
An experimental art space that focuses on social practices inside Sweet Water would change this and would bring local, national, and international artists and scholars to Sweet Water. It would allow artists and scholars to network with the Sweet Water staff, to contribute their talents, and to tell the world about the work going on at Sweet Water and the urban agriculture movement in Milwaukee and the region. It would signify that Sweet Water supports artists and scholars, and it would signify that artists and scholars support Sweet Water.
The positive ripple effect of this type of collaboration and relationship are easy to imagine. First and foremost collaboration and the sharing of ideas would take place between artists and urban farmers. Second, artists and scholars would spread the gospel of Sweet Water and aquaponics to the world through their networks and through cultural work (i.e. writing about, visualizing, and filming this type of work). In essence, artists would be the creative PR (public relations) people for aquaponics. Artists would provide the independent media, the cultural analysis, and the creativity to imagine new possibilities.
Sweet Water has already given their blessings to having Michael and I establish an experimental art space inside their building. To move forward we need to raise funds for building materials, lights, a digital projector, and video equipment.
Methinks we are at the edge of an intense acceleration of our Urban AgAquaponics breakthrough that finds me hoping for some on-line brainstorming and conference calls with our team and a widening circle of partners including Joe Recchie, Dean Amhaus, Julia Taylor, and some of the folks perhaps listed below.
Hoping this might serve as a start for a collaboration with a variety of “partners” advancing the Sweet Water experiment and the Reid Yards/Water Technology Park.
Sweet Water/Milwaukee Global Water Technology Park Collaborator Candidates
This starting list of Milwaukee/Sweet Water “partners” are people of considerable renown and resource conduit possibility:
(l) Dickson Despommier, vertical farm popularizer;
(2) Dr. Nikolaus Correll, roboticist wanting to merge projects for sensor resourced miniatures for family and schools;
(3) Dr. Gene Giacomelli of NASA Controlled Environmental Agriculture(CEA) career;
(4) Zurich’s Roman Gaus of portable container box fame;
(5) Participants in the “Milwaukee Aquaponics R&D Consortium,” including Drs. Marklin of MU and his team, Traum, Carriere, Trussoni, Anderson, et al of MSOE, He, Keane, Unakpa, and others from UWM;
(6) Shedd Aquarium and other Chicago partners Emmanuel can bring in;
(7) Aquaponics Miniature trailblazers from across the planet, including the Berkeley team raising serious dollars crowd-sourcing.
Emmanuel has won the profound respect of Dickson Despommier, who orchestrated a Sweet Water presentation at a recent NSF conference. A net enhanced Sweet Water and Milwaukee would have no trouble winning Despommier’s participation in the Reid Yards unfolding. He has already committed to monthly conference calls of 20 minutes to mindstorm collaborations.
NASA’s Dr. Gene Giacomelli has invited Emmanuel to submit an action plan at a major vertical farming conference in 2013.
Zurich’s Roman Gaus of TED Talk fame and Zurich breakthroughs, would gladly join in with his portable aquaponics farm.
Shajan John has a good likelihood of winning some kind of participation by the 9 Billion Per Annum Indian ITC e-Choupal projects.
General Manager (New Initiatives)
ITC- Agri Business Div
I hope our “Great Lakes Aquaponics Consortium” that now finds Dr. Marklin of MU with good chances for a $100,000 grant, with $5,000 for Sweet Water consulting might find a field in the rich territory Dean Amhaus and Julia Taylor are co-design/orchestrating.
And connect at this project with the designers of this system, a high end miniature that will compliment and support the basic miniature we will are developing.
to be continued
This is fantastic!
5% of our nation’s schools with digital or miniature aquaponics experiments in 5 years, 20% by 2020.
Biomimicry Informatics 1.0
“Sweet Water Nutrients For Ecological City Co-Creation”
Miniature aquaponics systems costing about $100 can be “community garden prototypes” if the schools, like Chicago’s Jackie Robinson and Wells Prep, wish to connect with the neighborhood.
Chicago 3rd graders from Jackie Robinson and 6th graders from Wells Prep interviewed about their classroom aquaponics adventures, as are teachers and neighborhood elders.
Clicking on this place
at that site, click at this spot first
Click here to start download from sendspace
Many South Side Chicago schools’ experimenting with aquaponics as way to bring families into schools, schools into neighborhoods, and STEM hands-on, work based education for our learners, young and old.
Or this might work as well:
Here’s upgraded web page for the Sweet Water Foundation.
Chinese Delegation Visit
Purple Cow’s Sandy Syburg at
Great Table of Bay View Alterra,
soon to house some SW gatherings
and book club on Science and
Spirituality. Sandy gearing up to
partner with Sweet Water Mahattil
India project experiments.
Lovely garden from the Joan of Arc and
Shanty Irish compost experiment. Story
about this soon to appear.
Sweet Water Bee World. Story someday.
Emma Kraco and preying mantus
Michael Carriere, Shelly McClone
and children arriving to start the
Heartland House Sweet Water
Aquaponics. More to come!
Day One of Community Roofing, Summer
1974, evolved into the company Josh
Fraundorf led to a 2008 profit of $40,000,
the start-up capital for Sweet Water Organics.
These are some of the organizations that have been collaborating with Sweet
Water, i.e. Sweet Water Organics(SWO), “The Farm,” and the Sweet Water Foundation(SWF), “The Academy.”
Community Christian Alternative Academy
Kwame Nkrumah Academy
Betty Shabazz International Charter School
Jackie Robinson Elementary School
Wells Prep Middle School
Phillips Academy High School
Dunbar High School
Center For New Horizons
Enrico Fermi Elementary
Roseland Community Development Corporation
Lindblom Math and Science Academy
Wendell Phillips Academy
Richards Career Academy
Texas Bufkin Christian Academy
La Causa charter school
Rufus King High School
Bay View Middle and High School
Riverside University High School
Grandview High School
Centro Hispano High School
Fernwood Montessori School
Milwaukee Vincent High School
School for Career and Technical Education
Morse-Marshall High School
Shorewood New Horizons
national association of black veterans (milwaukee | chicago)
center for veterans issues (milwaukee)
St. Albert’s College’s Aquaculture ( Kerala, India)
Chicago State University
School of Freshwater Sciences
Florida International University (FIU)
Kentucky State University (Aquaculture)
Parsons (New School NYC)
UN Global Cities Compact
IBM (Smarter Cities)
Sylvia Bernstein (?)
Aquaponics UK (?)
Walnut Way (milwaukee)
There are many kinds of values created by social enterprises like Sweet Water that are worthy of brainstorming and careful, systematic analysis. Most of them will not show up on the simple dollars and cents “bottom line.” Nor will they necessarily yield large numbers of “family supporting” jobs in the formal economy. But there are many kinds of value creating activities we call “work” that substantially improve the quality of a family, community, and nation’s lives. There is much work that reduces the amount of money spent and resources consumed. And there is much work that creates or conserves social, cultural, spiritual, and natural “capital” that must be done asap.
There are many doctoral dissertations, MA theses, and senior research projects around the corner that will explore this complex array of issues. This platform is designed to spark and connect that research with on-the ground value creating enterprise premised on the notion that mindful work always produces great value, and a cautionary notion that some jobs lead to poverty for the job holder, community, nation, and planet. This is a complex matter, like nature and society!
A platform to explore Social Enterprise Value Metrics with our partners across our planet in need of healing and a higher level of human nature collaborations.
Friedman Jan. 12, 2013
Another way is through “co-opetition.” There are many examples here of companies trying to kill each other in one market but working together in another — to better serve customers. Microsoft Windows runs on Apple Macs because customers wanted it. When Apple Maps failed, Apple asked its users to download Google Maps. Finally, within firms, it is understood that to thrive in today’s market, solve the biggest problems and serve customers, you need to assemble the best minds from anywhere in the world.
“When you obsess about the customer, you end up defeating your competition as a byproduct,” said K.R. Sridhar, the founder of Bloom Energy, a fuel-cell company. “When you are just obsessed about the competition, you end up killing yourself” as a byproduct — “because you are not focused on the customer.”
My favorite article in 2012.
Seven years ago, the consulting group Bridgespan presented details on the performance of several prestigious nonprofits. Nearly all of them had one thing in common — failure. These organizations had a point at which they struggled financially, stalled on a project or experienced high rates of attrition. “Everyone in the room had the same response, which was relief,” said Paul Schmitz, the chief executive of the nonprofit Public Allies. “It was good to see that I wasn’t the only one struggling with these things.”
Here’s latest on this theme: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/03/opinion/sunday/learning-from-research-failure.html?hp&_r=0
Then this one.
As in any field, people who work in nonprofits, social enterprises, development agencies, and foundations experience failure on a regular basis. People make hiring and budgeting mistakes. Shipments arrive late, or not at all. Organizations allow their missions to drift. Technologies prove inappropriate for the communities meant to benefit from them.
We are working in some of the most difficult places in the world,” said Wayan Vota, a technology and information expert who organized the third annual FAILFaire conference two weeks ago in Washington. “But failure is literally the f-word’ in development.” The idea behind this FAILFaire, which was hosted by the World Bank, was to highlight, even celebrate, instances of failure in the field of social change as an integral part of the process of innovation and, ultimately, progress.
Some nonprofits are tempted to hide their failures, partially for fear of donor reaction. But most acknowledge that transparency about what works and what doesn’t is crucial to their eventual success.
Not talking about [failure] is the worst thing you can do, as it means you’re not helping the rest of the organization learn from it,” said Jill Vialet, who runs the nonprofit Playworks. “It gives [the failure] a power and a weight that’s not only unnecessary, but damaging.” Vialet instead supports failing “out loud” and “forward,” meaning that the people involved in the failure should speak about it openly and work to prevent history from repeating itself.
This idea is already ingrained in the cultures of some for-profit industries. “In Silicon Valley, failure is a rite of passage,” said Vota. “If you’re not failing, you’re not considered to be innovating enough.” Silicon Valley investors, in turn, regularly reward entrepreneurs’ risk-taking behavior, though they know the venture may fail and they will lose their capital.
The ironic thing,” said Schmitz of Public Allies, “is that you have donors who took major risks in their own fortunes, but are very risk averse when giving to charity. People rightly want their dollars to have the maximum impact, but don’t apply the same logic model that they give to their private sector investment.” As a result, he said, many social change groups innovate less often and less wildly.
Individuals within the social change community have recognized the value in emulating Silicon Valley’s culture of calculated risk-taking, and are actively working to de-stigmatize failure. FAILFaire is one example. At the event, Aleem Walji, the director of the World Bank Institute’s Innovation Labs, spoke of a failed collaboration with Google, in which the World Bank would have provided Google’s Map Maker program to governments and multilaterals to help with disaster preparedness. However, development experts lambasted the World Bank for supporting Google’s closed platform, which would not allow users free access to the map data they would create. A month after the partnership was announced, the bank changed
Positive Deviance Also Helpful
Centers sparking centers!
Centers helping one another define larger wholes
Entangled organic wholes without boundaries
Parts mutually entangled in wholes
Wholeness beneath the surface determining all
Density and intensity of centers formed in built structures
Universal mutual entanglement of world’s organisms
Centers touching souls deeply
Centers inspiring coherent action, effortless and free
Space that’s alive!
Space imparting free spirits!
Space deeply, robustly functional
The deep, functional nature of the centers
is the source of the beauty and the force of a building
Centers providing initiation to life’s flows,
exchanges, and high feelings.
Deep roots and subtle shoots.
Many kinds of ecological centers to create.
I hope to inspire you to consider becoming
It does not matter if you are rich or poor in dollars.
What matters if you harvest your wealth in spiritual,
social, and cultural capital.
If you take a 30 year time frame, like I do, and frame
your approach in ABC Development theory, like me,
you will have a great adventure exploring the possibilities
of aquaponics with wonderful people also attracted to
this possible solution to a lot that ails us.
I hope to inspire you to become…
To become an aquaponics center, sparking other centers,
involves, at the outset, your taking on the role of sharing the resources
of the Sweet Water Badge Program , i.e. free
digital training and modestly feed credentialing in occasional
e-mail updates for your friends and educators.
Start with your attention and your vision.
Win time to giving attention to crafting your vision
And defining your assets—social capital, culture capital,
Spiritual capital, and the green dollar capital that will arrive.
Begin with small steps, read some of the Sweet Water stories,
And those of other aquaponics experimenters.
Share your stories! No matter how modest at the outset.
Story sharing is what we do!
Choose your founding circle of partners and “centers,”
Commingle your centers with other complimentary centers.
Imagine a Sweet Water network of centers,
Sharing visions and experiments.
Do lots of this work over food and drink,
In places that make people feel good and happy.
Take your time, knowing anything of real value
Takes 10,000,000 steps, just to get started.
Here are a group of Sweet Water “stories” from people we’ve worked with
that attest to the inspiration an aquaponics center can provide: