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ANM: A Public Garden to Stem Juvenile Gun Violence?

Commissioner Mariah Parker's proposal for a public garden project is part of the FY 2022 budget taking effect today.
Photo: ACC Government

Ke’Travian Tyvon Cole was shot and killed on May 1st, one of several young Black men and teens killed or injured in Athens this year.

The 20-year-old rapper was struck down on the way to perform a show, under his stage name - EBE Montana.

“His stage name EBE Montana..EBE stands for 'Everybody Eats,'” says fellow rapper and District 2 Commissioner Mariah Parker. She says suspects in recent shootings have been as young as 15 years old.

This increase in violence inspired Parker to spearhead the Everybody Eats Municipal Community Garden Pilot Program in Cole’s honor. “It is effectively a youth development program that also helps support food security, as well as the transformation of blighted neighborhoods,” she said. “So it kind of tackles public safety, and wellness on a couple different levels in that regard.”

It is effectively a youth development program that also helps support food security, as well as the transformation of blighted neighborhoods

Working with Ke’Travian’s father, Hamilton Cole, Parker organized the program to address multiple issues that her constituents are concerned about: food insecurity, a lack of youth development opportunities in underserved communities, underinvestment in impoverished communities, and lack of communal spaces in places like East Athens.

“So neighborhood youth will be employed as apprentices to help manage the garden, recruit their friends to take part in garden programming, whereby they learn agricultural skills, and then assisting and manage the food box program whereby community members can receive a friend a box of fresh vegetables every week.” . . . “It gives you the opportunity to learn to life skills development, to build constructive and positive sense of community, and give back to their neighborhoods.”

Parker presented the project to the Athens Clarke County Commission in early May, as commissioners discussed budget priorities for the 2022 fiscal year. At that meeting, she told collegaues, “I began developing a proposal for a municipal community garden pilot programto be housed in Leisure Services that is modeled after Seattle's municipal community garden program.” The Seattle program that she mentioned is P-Patch Community Gardening. 

“Last year, we had over 36,000 pounds of organic vegetables, herbs and flowers,” says P-patch program supervisor Kenya Fredie. She says their program was founded in 1973, and now has a total of 33.7 acres dedicated to the cause. “The basis is, growing and gardening, but you find a lot of familiarities with different ethnicities through food, it's amazing.”

Fredie also says it’s a great learning opportunity for youth, “it's an extension to a classroom, you know, learning about everything under the sun, wildlife worms, composting, how to work with your neighbors, you know, those social skills” she said. “It runs the gamut of how it can benefit youth. But for the most part, just going out there and having fun.”

ACC Commissioners are scheduled to adopt the budget on June 15th, and Parker is asking for $150,000 for this project.  She hopes it will not only pass, but pave the way for more youth development opportunities for individuals like Ke’Trevian Tyvon Cole “I think it's really important to keep his memory alive. And support his family's wishes that more youth development programming take part take place in our community,” Parker said.

Chris Shupe began work at WUGA as a part time weekend announcer in 2010. At the time Shupe was focused on maintaining a thriving career in Real Estate, as well as balancing his time as a local entertainer. Shupe may be best known as The Athens King, a tribute to Elvis Presley, which often included an 8 piece show band! In 2012, Shupe joined WUGA full time as the station’s Morning Edition Host and Assistant Operations Director, and after 2 years of serving in that role Shupe was hired as Program Director for the station. As PD, Shupe spearheaded a return to more involvement in national conferences and continuing education opportunities through industry professional organizations like the Public Radio Program Director's Association, Public Media Development and Marketing Association, Morning Edition Grad School, the NAB, and the Public Media Journalists Association. This involvement led Shupe to undertake a comprehensive market study in 2015, the first such examination of local audience trends in more than 15 years.
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