The City of Oak Park (oh the infamous City of Oak Park…) over the last several months has planted dozens and dozens of fields of sunflowers. I desperately wanted to take at least one photo of these sunflower plantings to put on the blog, but I kept not posting waiting for the photo, and finally just decided to go ahead and write the post without it. I wish I had an idea of how much tax money went to this MASSIVE undertaking, which involved a huge commitment of heavy machinery to tear up perfectly good plots of land all over the entire city, the hiring of many many workers to plant the actual flowers, squazillions of gallons of water repeatedly used in the blazing heat of a Michigan summer to water these massive sunflowers (way higher than corn plants, which during my garden scandal were pointed out as singularly offensive plants), and hours and hours of labor to continue tending to these plants, which although thriving, seem to have no use at all except to obscure traffic visibility in certain locations and to entertain some birds and squirrels.
So the city which once tried to ban actual food, which then talked about community gardens, at some point made an actual affirmative decision (meaning there must have been discussion around it and a conscious decision to move forward) to sink vast amounts of money and resources into a project that, rather than feeding hungry citizens (and believe me, Oak Park has more than its fair share or people below the poverty line and on one or more food assistance programs)has decided to feed crows. Oak Park has devoted land, not to Church groups or urban farmers or to food pantries, who would have been able and delighted to grow food on that land, but to sunflower patches.
Oak Park could have been a shining example to the country or a city that had an innovative program about how to take unused pieces of public land and put it to amazing use to help all of its people. It could have done something for almost no cost to the citizens but tremendous payoff for the common good. With the spirit right now of how everyone is willing to get on board with these types of projects and kids in schools are doing exactly this sort of community garden stuff and senior citizens are growing food for leisure and people are on fire with passion for growing food- and to see these sunflowers, which are pretty and fun as an add-on maybe to other things… But in lieu of what could have been flourishing there?
It truly breaks my heart.
It’s a waste of opportunity and a waste of potential.
Again, Oak Park?