Urban Ag Evangelist Gives Guerrilla Gardening a Dose of Star Power

David Hochman profiles Ron Finley, an urban gardening activist from South Los Angeles whose breakout TED talk and volunteer work are attracting some high profile supporters.
May 6, 2013, 9am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Since his "rousing 10-minute talk" about guerrilla gardening in low-income neighborhoods at last winter's gathering of intellectual tastemakers, "Mr. Finley has been thrust into the unlikely role of pavement-pounding Johnny Appleseed," says Hochman. "His talk has received almost 900,000 views on TED’s Web site and his message that edible gardens are the antidote to inner-city health issues, poverty and gang violence ('if you ain’t a gardener, you ain’t gangsta,' he told the crowd) has gone supernova."

"The talk show host Carson Daly, the actress Rashida Jones and the celebrated Danish chef René Redzepi were among hundreds of new admirers issuing shout-outs on Twitter."

"Mr. Finley now faces the challenge of living up to the hype. 'The world is behind Ron, and it’s wonderful that his efforts and instincts intersect with latent support,' said Ben Goldhirsh, a co-founder and chief executive of GOOD, a publishing and marketing business that promotes social causes, and whose Goldhirsh Foundation plans to give Mr. Finley a grant. 'The question is how to convert that energy into outcomes. Ron’s got a lot of energy and ability. It’s up to him whether he can harness that for the long slog.'”

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Published on Friday, May 3, 2013 in The New York Times
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