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History, Patriotism, Politics, Filmmaking

February 2, 2017


I have been thinking about how “From the Ground Up” started and what I want it to be now. I started digging around and found that I began research into urban farming in 2004. Seriously 2004. Thirteen years ago. Think about it, where were you in 2004? Where was the USA in 2004? Deep in a war in Iraq, George W. Bush was elected for a second term, and in my neck of the woods the Bay Area was starting to slowly recover from the Dot-Com Boom & Bust. My husband and I were finally able to move to better place since the rents had started to come down. We had found a great place with a yard full of fruit trees and raised beds in the sunny Mission District in San Francisco. I was so excited to grow food, so I started researching how to get started, that was when I came across amazing urban farming projects that were helping all kinds of people in cities around the world, it changed my life. I was taking a documentary filmmaking class at the time and one thing led to another – “From the Ground Up” was born. The main challenge then (and continually) is that urban farming is done in so many ways, for so many reasons, by so many different people. How to make a coherent story? It took a few years for the stories to sort themselves out, a lot of trial and error on my part, and the cooperation and guidance from the many urban farmers and film makers I have met and worked with. On a trip to Massachusetts I decided to check out an urban farming project I ran across in my research, Nuestras Raices in Holyoke. It was exactly the kind of project I was looking for – community based, youth involvement, positive civic action and welcoming people. Filming there has been a highlight of this project, they have inspired me more than I can explain. In 2005 we began filming senior citizens who had Victory Gardens during WWII and were still active food growers. In 2007 I met Karen who was fighting the city of Sacramento to keep her front yard edible garden. Then in 2008 Slow Food Nation decided to hold an event in San Francisco and work with local urban farmers to build a WWII inspired Victory Garden across the street from San Francisco City Hall. I could not have asked for a better project to tie the stories together, also the timing and location were fortuitous. I was able to be there at the beginning and film through the entire lifetime of the garden, it was a great opportunity. The people involved in the project were open to me filming and generous with their time and knowledge, I cannot thank all those people enough. There were more gardens, people and projects that we have filmed over the years, so many beautiful places and people. We began editing and editing, and as they do, things changed over the years, personally and politically. The doc has been in rough cut stage since 2013 when I ran out of steam. We have continued to work on it in dribs and drabs, but no major progress. Which I find kind of heartbreaking. I love this project, the people I have met through it and what I have learned in the process of making it.

Why I am I bringing this up? I am feeling a lot like I was in 2004, overwhelmed by politics, questioning what being a “Good American” is, wondering what we can do as citizens to build better communities, ones that are inclusive and healthy. We have discussed the term “Patriotism” quite a bit in the making of the doc, the archival footage we use from WWII films encourage planting Victory Gardens as a patriotic duty. The word means many things to many people, there seems to be no consensus. I have been reading articles and historical quotes about patriotism trying to wrap my head around it. Here are some quotes that reflect my feelings about it this week:

“True patriotism hates injustice in its own land more than anywhere else” Clarence Darrow

“Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it” Mark Twain

“Fighting corruption is not just good governance. It’s self-defense. It’s patriotism” Joe Biden

“You’re not supposed to be so blind with patriotism that you can’t face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who says it” Malcolm X

“Patriotism is when love of your own people comes first; nationalism, when hate for people other than your own comes first” Charles de Gaulle

What are yours?

The motivation to finish the documentary is back and I have been reviewing the rough cut and other footage, thinking about ways to bring it into the current world.

Thank you for your interest and support! Feel free to contact me with any questions and to donate to help with the financial costs of finishing the project.

Kristi Adams

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