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On the last Saturday of every month, The Teen Creative Agency (TCA) hosts The Living Room, an on-site intimate, eclectic gathering for contemporary conversations, performances, and activites at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA). The TCA is comprised of 25 curious, creative, committed youth who work on projects to transform select spaces within the museum interactivity. Last October, TCA visited both the Aquaponics Center and the Think-Do House at the Perry Ave Community Farm expressing interest in collaborating in The MYCELIA Project. This month, TCA invited Executive Director, Emmanuel Pratt, and the team from Sweet Water Foundation as their featured guests to collaborate on a pop-up mini-aquaponics installation in the lobby of the MCA as a way to engage MCA patrons and guests in an intimate and heart-felt conversation about community, art, engagement, sustainability, and social practice.
Emmanuel Pratt Speaks at Creative Time Summit at NYU
Emmanuel Pratt has dedicated himself to learning and teaching others about the issues that plague modern cities. A doctoral candidate in Urban Planning at Columbia University, he is the Executive Director of The Sweet Water Foundation, which seeks to integrate hands-on sustainable farming practices with interdisciplinary educational programming. The Mycelia Project has put this into practice by turning a deteriorating shoe factory into an aquaponic farm that uses nitrogen waste from tilapia-filled tanks to fertilize vegetables and herbs. He distributes these locally grown products to restaurants in the South Side of Chicago. In addition, The Mycelia Project has introduced a curriculum that educates everyone from kindergartners to graduate students about sustainability, repurposing, and urban renewal to schools across Chicago.
Why we love Emmanuel Pratt:
• Emmanuel brought sustainable farming to a “food desert” in Chicago by converting a deteriorating abandoned shoe factory into a lively and productive aquaponic fish and vegetable farm
• He has expanded his urban farming education initiative to 50 schools through his Sweet Water Foundation, teaching things like fishery management and soil chemistry
• Emmanuel emphasizes action. When describing what to expect at Sweet Water he states: “We’re gonna have a philosophical debate, but you’re probably gonna be doing it while you have a tool in your hand and you’re doing something”Source: Creative Time Summit
This weekend, Executive Director Emmanuel Pratt will be serving as a judge in the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) Student Design Competition in Detroit on Saturday October 20. Students participating in the design challenge, Urban [space] US12… Idea Center, are charged with studying underutilized land in Southwest Detroit for developing new Urban Spaces. These new urban spaces should “preserve and enhance the existing sites and community [and] reflect on the historic significance of the neighborhood,” while designing a cohesive urban planning scheme which incorporates elements from the Greening of Detroit Initiative and designing an “Idea Center,” serving as a “nucleus for education and information focusing on holistic and healthy living.” This focus on social, economic, and environmental objectives is well-aligned with Sweet Water’s mission to educate for resilient 21st century communities through sustainable urban agriculture.
Participation as a judge in this design competition was built on a successful program run at Chicago State (CSU) with the Illinois chapter of NOMA this past summer. Designed for aspiring architects, this day-long seminar on urban agriculture, aquaponics, and the intersection with architecture covered background on repurposing industrial spaces and employed different drawing techniques through a design charette. The conclusion of the program involved the construction of raised garden beds and presentations of designs.
Both collaborations with NOMA are examples of using a complex multidisciplinary approach through architecture to revitalize urban spaces. Sweet Water approaches this mission by reaching out through like-minded organizations tackling similar issues.
Following Milwaukee’s successful submission to the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge centered on urban agriculture and aquaponics, Sweet Water Foundation President James Godsil traveled to several cities in India as part of a tour sponsored by the US State Depeartment in the summer of 2011. From talks to faculty and graduate students at a number of Central Institutes of Fisheries Education (CIFE), to discussing urban agriculture with residents of Cuttack slums, Godsil facilitated information exchange regarding the use and innovation of aquaponics and sustainable agriculture practices around the world.
Following this successful visit, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation sponsored a trade delegation to India last month. Shajan John, an adjunct associate professor at the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE), has a history of merging partnerships between India and the US to ensure companies doing business between the two countries. John represented Sweet Water as a Research Fellow for Glocalization during this WEDC trip to India and has helped pave the way for ongoing partnership between Sweet Water and Indian entities.