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“No Man’s Land” is a photodocumentation of a farming/gardening community (Spaces of Opportunity) in South Phoenix.  South Phoenix is historically poor, Black, & Hispanic.  It exists, like countless other poor communities in the United States, largely as a food desert, inundated with convenience stores & fast food restaurants dishing out excesses of cheap, empty calories & a handful of large corporate supermarkets selling pesticide-laden food that travels thousands of miles prior to its destination.

 

This 10-acre plot in South Phoenix cared for by this all-too-often marginalized community offers a critical & viable alternative.

This alternative, however, is nothing new.   It has existed for thousands of years.  It is a direct, conscious, & intimate connection to the land on which we live & depend, whether we know it or not, a connection that provides not only physical sustenance, but spiritual sustenance as well.  It is only over the last few centuries arguably that this connection has been so deeply severed.  We take for granted how we get our food, not knowing where it came from, most assuming that our current food system is the normal, logical, & inevitable outgrowth of human “progress”.  As a matter of historical fact, the current manner in which we relate to our food, much less the environment & each other, are largely anomalous. 

The title “No Man’s Land” holds several meanings.  Spaces of Opportunity was once a desolate, abandoned lot choked by weeds, waste, & vandalism.  “No Man’s Land” is a reference to the fact that this 10-acre plot now exists as a community space, shared & tended to by many humans of various ages, races, & backgrounds for everyone’s well-being.  “No Man’s Land” is also a contrarian reference to “Mother Earth.”  This title additionally implicates our collective present & future as it relates to multiple layers of environmental crises, including climate change & global depletion.  We are existing in & hurtling towards an environment that humans have never known, an environment of our own making, an environment that we are both consciously & unconsciously depleting & destroying.  

There are solutions.  They are not new.  They simply require an awakening.  They require a profound reconfiguration of our collective relationship with nature & one another.  They require a 180-degree turn & a forward step.  

This 10-acre plot is such a step.

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