How Do You Change Culture? If you’re Ron Finley, your Weapon of Choice would be a shovel, some soil and seeds. Ron has come to be known as the “Gangsta Gardener” and his unexpected tactics have made him one of L.A.’s most widely known activists.
Frustrated by his community’s lack of access to fresh, organic food, Finley inadvertently started a revolution when he turned the parkway in front of his South Central L.A. home into an edible garden in 2010. When the city cited him for his plantings, Finley started a bureaucratic battle that ended with local city officials altering the parkway ordinances to include edibles.
Ron’s goal was simple; bring healthy food to an area where there was none. He decided he did not want to live in a food prison anymore so he began to plant his own food. This simple logic inspired Ron’s mission to turn food prisons into food forests. This experience blossomed into a quest to change how we eat and to teach youth that they have the capacity to design their own lives; empowering people around the world.
Based in LA, Ron is now working on The Ron Finley Project, speaking at global conferences and in classrooms regularly, spreading his gardening gospel wherever he’s invited. He is on the Curatorial Team of the Destination Crenshaw project; a 1.3 mile long outdoor art and cultural experience celebrating Black Los Angeles. He is also selected as one of the national artists for the Public Art Challenge Fertile Ground Project by Bloomberg Philanthropies in Jackson, Mississippi. All starting from one seed, Ron began a horti-cultural revolution on the parkway just outside his home. Ron’s vision is simple; beauty in, beauty out.