This is a picture I took of my friends in a vacant parking lot last year. We spent part of the night there near the sea, talking and laughing without thinking about the future, looking at the lights of the city in front of us. I miss them so much. check my instagram for more Paolo Raeli


“I got tired of driving 45 minutes to get an apple that was impregnated with pesticides. LA leads the USA in vacant lots. That’s 20 Central Parks (New York). That’s enough space to plant 725,000,000 tomato plants. I grew up there , I raised my sons there. I refused to be part of this manufactured reality…I manufactured my own reality.

I’m an artist…gardening is my graffiti, I grow my art.

To change a community, you have to change the composition of the soil…we are the soil. You’ll be surprised how kids can be affected by this. It made me ashamed to see people this close to me that were hungry, and it reinforced why I do this.

When asked "aren’t you afraid people are gonna steal your food?”) “Hell no I ain’t afraid, that’s why it’s on the street!!!!!”

“I want people to take it [the food], but at the same time, I want them to take back their health. If kids grow kale, they eat kale!!!! If kids grow tomatoes, they eat tomatoes!!!!” But if none of this is presented to them, they blindly eat whatever the hell you put in front of them.“ - Ron Finley


Ron Finley is a successful clothing designer and artist from Los Angeles whose life got a little dirtier when he realized something strange about his neighborhood.

He found that South Central, Los Angeles was overwhelmingly filled with ”Liquor stores. Fast food. Vacant lots,“but had no great place to get fresh, affordable produce. "People are losing their homes, they’re hungry, they’re unemployed, and this area is so underserved with nutritional food.” Finley was quoted in an article that appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

Since he’d just taken a course on gardening at the Natural History Museum, he decided to put his newfound knowledge to good use and planted a garden in a small strip of grass by his house with the help of his teacher, Florence Nishida and some friends.

Even though Finley used a small plot of land – about 10 feet wide, 150 feet long according to the Los Angeles Times – the city still gave him a citation, which eventually turned into a warrant. His garden, filled with tomatoes, peppers and chard, celery, kale and herbs, had been deemed illegal.

Ron Finley TED profile:

Night Vale Gothic
  • The descriptions on everything are in English and Spanish, nothing else. You cannot find your school notes on modified sumerian anymore.
  • The dog park is not separated by high, smooth, black walls, but instead a fence. You can look inside. There are gates, and you can open them. There are people in the dog park, and dogs.
  • The librarians are human, and helpfull. There are automatic fire alarms, and doors, and windows. You cannot hide. Everyoine tells you you do not need to.
  • The Green Market is bustling, fresh produce and local farmers and visitors and hagglers.
  • There was a hole in the vacant lot, out back of the Ralph’s. You vividly remember playing there when you were younger, but it has been filled up now.
  • All mirrors are uncovered.
  • Station Management greets you every morning when you come in for your job.
  • City Hall is uncovered all times of the day.
  • There is no single chimney in sight.
  • The sky goes from black, to pink, to orange, to blue, to red, to black, unless there’s sandstorms (yellow) or cloudy (white, or grey). There are no other colours.

“I got tired of driving 45 minutes to get an apple that was impregnated with pesticides. LA leads the USA in vacant lots. That’s 20 Central Parks (New York). That’s enough space to plant 725,000,000 tomato plants. I grew up there , I raised my sons there. I refused to be part of this manufactured reality…I manufactured my own reality.

Ron Finley



cats, Abeno, Osaka by jtabn99
Former Black Panther Runs An Urban Farm to Give Ex-Prisoners a Fresh Start
A good way to describe it would be as part prisoner re-entry program, part small business startup incubator, and part community hub.

As a former chairwoman of the Black Panther Party, Elaine Brown is no stranger to radical ideas. The 72-year-old has been an advocate on behalf of prisoners for many years. And now she’s determined to transform a vacant lot in West Oakland, California into a thriving urban farm business that employs former offenders.


NorCal Gothic

Cowritten with coloredink

  • You wake up to the sound of rain.  Excellent, you think.  You roll over and go back to sleep with the sound of water pattering against the window echoing in your ears.  In the morning, you step outside to sunny blue skies.  The pavement is dry.  Did you dream it?  Did it happen? 
  • You walk past an apartment with a FOR RENT sign advertising $1800 a month.  When you walk past it going the other direction, 20 minutes later, the sign reads $2000.  When you go back the next day, it’s gone.
  • You pass a vacant lot with a sign advertising a high-rise, mixed office use and luxury condos.  You can’t remember what used to be there before.  If anything used to be there before.
  • “I thought I was visiting California,” says the tourist, shivering, his pink knees exposed to the wind.  "I didn’t think I’d need a jacket.“  You pity him.  He doesn’t know about the fog.  He doesn’t know to stay away from the fog.  What lies in it.
  • Their speech is patterned with strange words.  Everything is "hella chill.”  You think that might be the case when hell freezes over.  Then, one day, you start saying it too.
  • The bus announcements are in a language you don’t understand.  To clarify meaning, the bus repeats its announcements in several more languages you don’t understand. 
  • The bulk bins are all filled with quinoa.  Pearl quinoa, black quinoa, red quinoa, tri-color quinoa.  "I love quinoa,“ says the glassy-eyed white woman in the aisle beside you.  "It’s so good for you.”  She scoops herself two pounds.  Everything in your shopping basket has turned into quinoa. 
  • Diversity Day is held at the local high school.  Every act is from Asia.  You are not sure what diversity means.  You clap anyway. 
  • You are waiting for the bus.  Google arrives.  Google leaves.  You are still waiting for your bus. 
  • Apple makes an announcement: they are selling the iThing.  Your coworker makes an announcement: they are selling their stock options. 
  • BART is, in fact, not a person. 
  • You are circling.  You are looking for parking.  You are circling.  You are looking for parking.  You are circling. 
  • “We’re just coming up on the Maze here,” the news helicopter says.  "It looks like there’s been an accident over on the right shoulder.” You don’t know where to look.  There are so many shoulders.
  • You buy pesto from Trader Giotto’s and ma po tofu sauce from Trader Ming’s and frozen tamales from Trader Jose’s.  Boy, that Trader Joe guy sure gets around.  You wonder where he’ll go next.
  • The Prius in front of you slams on its brakes, and you slam on yours.  The Prius behind you barely stops in time.  A Prius rolls up on your right.  A Prius rolls up on your left.  Their windows are all tinted.  They all have COEXIST stickers.  You hold your breath and wait for the light to change.
  • You go to the supermarket.  The fish stare at you.  You stare back.  In the background, you hear the sound of heavy knives chopping.
  • The Giants are victorious.  There is a parade.  Tall people do not feature in abundance.  The city goes up in flames that night.
  • “I don’t know how I ended up here,” he says.  He clutches his $4.50 fair trade organic artisan coffee.  "I swore I’d never live in the Mission.  But now my jeans are skinny, I own a collection of vintage records, and I’m hosting a bread-baking party next Saturday.“  He leans forward.  His eyes are desperate, and his beard is magnificent.  "You have to help me.”
  • The tea contains mostly milk, sugar, honey, and little round brown things.  You are assured that the little round things are boba, not something else.

The Available City: Making Use of Chicago’s 15,000 Vacant Lots

David Brown, associate director and associate professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s School of Architecture, explores approaches to urban design made possible through the introduction of shifts in the organizational logics that impact metropolitan development. His project, The Available City, was presented alongside large-scale proposals by four other Chicago-based firms at the Venice Biennale in “Team Chicago: City Works,” curated by Alexander Eisenschmidt. The Available City speculates on the urban design potential of Chicago’s fifteen thousand city-owned vacant lots. In its efforts to return the land to utilization, the city of Chicago principally considers each lot individually, and as infill. The Available City, however, proposes that this large scatter of lots, whose aggregate acreage exceeds the area of the Loop, can have greater impact on the neighborhoods and wards in which it is located, when considered as a collective set. David Brown will join over 100 architects, artists, and designers presenting work at the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial this October. 


Saint-Etienne, Place au Changement, Collectif ETC, 2011

Bearing in mind the impact that the changes in Saint-Étienne were having on the cityscape and social fabric, Public Urban Planning Agency of Saint-Etienne called for entries in a competition for plans to transform the former site of the petrol station into a temporary artistic installation. Backed by an investment of 30,000 euros, the winning proposal was that of a cooperative process of turning the barren block into a fertile place by means of citizen participation and professional assistance. 


Airport Gardens

I recently paid a visit to the disused Tempelhof Airport in Berlin and was excited to find that part of it is set up as a community garden. The size of the garden compared to the overall airfield is pretty small, but its still meaningful to see that local residents are able to use the land.  Its also pretty impressive to see how much land is left behind in the wake of a closed airport. There are many other plans in the works as well.

Photos taken April, 2014.