I will never be able to see what my friend, Rashid Nuri, sees. He is a man, and he is Black, and he is fifteen years older than me, and he is a Harvard graduate who has worked all over the world. I am none of that. His lived experience is different than mine. His point of view is different.
But I can sit where he sits and try to see at least a glimpse of his vision. And so I did that today, in the same place he sat in the photo on the cover of his terrific and important new book, Growing Out Loud, at the urban farm and education center he founded, now located on the Westside of Atlanta in the State of Georgia in the United States of America.
It was easy to picture Rashid here, because he has sat here with me before. It was easy to see now, after reading his book, how his whole life led to this precipice overlooking crops and fruit trees and compost and community.
It was also so very easy to love his book, which is his legacy project to his grandchildren and a gift to the world. Growing Out Loud taught me things about him I didn’t know (big things like the trajectory of his life, and little things like our fathers were both born in Corona, New York and we both like jazz and to eat corn raw). It reminded me of things about him that I love (his intellect and focus and passion — I especially love that he named numerous books that were transformative for him, as I now hope to read some of them, too). And it took my breath away with simple truths that I needed to hear again (such as my favorite line in the book, on page 210: We spend a lot of time telling God what we want, instead of listening to what God wants for us). Throughout, Rashid weaves a stunning amount of practical organic growing advice. It is therefore both a memoir and a guide book to roots and revolution. If you are thinking of growing (out loud or not), this book is a must-read.
I’ve underlined a bunch of things in Growing Out Loud that I originally thought I’d share with you here. But I think I’d rather see if perhaps I can share them in person first, with Rashid, right on this bench. There may be a follow-up post to this. Stay tuned.
Here are a couple of short videos showing locations of Rashid’s Truly Living Well Center for Natural Urban Agriculture:
Here is a small sample of photos I’ve taken at Rashid’s farms throughout the years (mostly while Traveling at the Speed of Bike, of course):
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