Week 5: Guerilla Gardening Leverage Points

Group project with Crystal, Ludfi, and Nick. Extreme thanks to Crystal for the graphic treatment.

Our points, both generally for the problem and specifically what Ron is doing is below:

12. Constants, parameters, numbers


  • Space for gardens, water access for growth, soil, labour time, driving distance to healthy food
  • They are increasing the amount of city acreage used for food production and minimizing the amount of vacant space. It’s a 45 minute drive round trip to fresh, organic food from South Central, so they’re erasing that travel time.



10. The structure of material stocks and flows (such as transport networks, population age structures).


  • Time it takes to grow food. The amount of times the food needs to be watered. The amount of land available to grow food. Food consumed is determined by what restaurants and grocers provide.
  • They are using public space/vacant lots (land that is already available) and turning that into a garden.



9. The length of delays, relative to the rate of system change


  • The ability for a community to recognize food access is a problem and make appropriate changes. The time it takes to grow food vs. going to purchase it at a store.
  • They are circumventing the legislative/political way to change the food system by taking matters into their own hands and growing food on unused land.



8. The strength of negative feedback loops, relative to the impacts they are trying to correct against.


  • With healthy food access being an issue, the cycle would be unhealthy poor people eat unhealthy food. By introducing cheap fruit and vegetables planted conveniently close, that offers food for even cheaper, and it’s healthy.
  • The goal of the feedback loop is the amount of healthy food available in ‘South Los Angeles’. To offset their dependence on fast & unhealthy food, they grow their own food.



7. The gain around driving positive feedback loops.


  • Growing your own food (gardening) requires physical exercise which makes you healthier and you end up with better food that makes you healthier as well.
  • By getting the community involved, it gives people pride and can attract more volunteers to sustain the program. By getting involved, you want to get involved more.



6. The structure of information flows (who does and does not have access to information).


  • By increasing food access in a grassroots way, local businesses may be forced to offer healthy food at competitive prices to compete. By having healthy food more accessible, people will more likely learn about the importance of eating healthy.
  • The government and long-time residents know which lots can be used (some probably had buildings that were razed to the ground, compacting the earth and making it useless for community gardening) Those lots are unlikely to be naturally vacant. Seehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Los_Angeles



5. The rules of the system (such as incentives, punishments, constraints).


  • How price of food is determined (supply and demand and cost to make food). How it is solely economically based without healthy incentives. What you are allowed to do on public property. Dependent on volunteers not employees.
  • They are giving people incentives to eat healthy (it’s free…and it’s healthy) and trying to alleviate the constraints of (and trump the incentives of) cheap but unhealthy food. And for now, at least, the local councilman has let them grow their own food on vacant lots in the city.



4. The power to add, change, evolve, or self-organize system structure.


  • A community takes it upon themselves to improve food access, and not let the nearby private companies or government dictate that.
  • Ron founded a group called L.A. Green Grounds that started planting their own food.



3. The goals of the system.


  • Society’s goals as they pertain to food and food access includes making money, being healthy, and allowing for a sustainable model for food supply.
  • The food access in South Central has not allowed the goals of a food system to come to fruition. They are challenging the goal of making money by doing this on a volunteer basis, while also improving the other goals of the food system.


2. The mindset or paradigm out of which the system — its goals, structure, rules, delays, parameters — arises.


  • People’s relationship with how they consume food – Food is made elsewhere and purchased by consumers at a store. It’s a business.
  • They are growing their own food almost as if money were growing on trees.



1. The power to transcend paradigms.


  • People’s belief that food is supplied for them and that they are part of that system. They are changing that mindset from being a customer to being a grower.


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