Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is taking her followers on a social justice gardening journey to promote the Green New Deal
Cliff Owen/AP Images
- Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is leveraging her social media celebrity to promote small-scale environmentalism and food justice through her attempt at rooftop gardening.
- The Bronx, New York native and celebrity politician is using the project to promote her Green New Deal resolution - an ambitious plan to combat climate change and expand the social safety net.
- "When we were deploying the Green New Deal, one of the first attacks was, 'Well, what does she know about farming?'" Ocasio-Cortez said in an Instagram story about the project.
- Ocasio-Cortez is taking a social justice approach to urban gardening, and has faced pushback for arguing that community gardens should feature plants that are "culturally familiar to the community."
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
On a Sunday in early April, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez announced via Twitter that she'd be adopting a rooftop community garden plot in Washington, DC."Any green-thumbs out with sage words of advice?" the New York progressive asked her 4 million-person following. Among the thousands of responses were puns from an Israeli rabbi and counsel from British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.
"I feel like plants are a great accountability partner because they literally die if you don't take time to tend to yourself and to them," she said in an April Instagram story.Ocasio-Cortez has a habit of using her social media celebrity to mix politics with daily life in a way that targets a millennial and Gen Z audience. She's brought her legions of fans into her kitchen for live "Cook + Q&A" sessions and into her livingroom to drink wine and assemble IKEA furniture, all the while answering questions and opining on the issues of the day.
Perhaps playing off Instagram's gardening influencer community, Ocasio-Cortez is now mixing politics, food, and environmental activism."Food that comes out of dirt - it's magic," she says of her collard greens and spinach.The project was also designed to focus attention on Ocasio-Cortez's Green New Deal resolution - a sweeping, ambitious plan to combat climate change, stimulate the economy, and expand the social safety net.
My community garden plot is doing well!
I was nervous checking up on it today, because Congress has been out of session for 2 weeks for district work. I left it with a bunch of watering stakes/bottles and hoped for the best.
They blew up! Peep the collard greens! pic.twitter.com/QvBEX85eAd
Ocasio-Cortez received widespread criticism for a set of FAQ's her office put out - and quickly retracted - suggesting the resolution called for eventually eliminating cows and airplane travel, and providing a living wage to those "unwilling to work." The congresswoman said she's faced strong pushback from advocates for agriculture.
"When we were deploying the Green New Deal, one of the first attacks was, 'Well, what does she know about farming?'" Ocasio-Cortez said in an Instagram story describing why she took on the rooftop gardening project.Read more: 'Our kids' lives are at stake': Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez slams Joe Biden over his 'middle-ground' approach to fighting climate change
Viraj Puri, the CEO of Gotham Greens, a New York urban farming startup, said that urban gardening is a good way to educate communities about the ties between environmental issues and agriculture.
"Community gardening is - no pun intended - a low-hanging fruit. It's an easy entry point to build up awareness around agricultural issues and around health and wellness," Viraj Puri told INSIDER. "[It] really straddles so many different themes - from climate change, to health and obesity, to urban greening, to quality of life."
This is a public announcement that we successfully grew, harvested, & ate spinach, collard greens, & swiss chard from the garden plot!
As such, I now reserve the right to use this emoji pic.twitter.com/7V4miH6m8j
"That is such a core component of the Green New Deal - is having all of these projects make sense in a cultural context," she said. "When someone says that it's too hard to do a green space that grows yuca instead of, I don't know, cauliflower what you're doing is you're taking a colonial approach to environmentalism."She went on, "If I went to a predominantly white community and said, 'Okay, you guys are going to be growing plantains and yuca and all these things that you don't know how to cook, and that your palate isn't accustomed to,' it's going to be like cute for a little bit. But it's not easy."
"Also, cauliflower's delicious and yuca tastes bad," right-wing provocateur Ben Shapiro said in a YouTube video. "Maybe that's just my different cultural sensitivity speaking to me here - but also I don't care if you grow yuca."
- Connaught Place to remain shut as farmers' tractor parade turns violent
- After violent clashes with police, farmers swarm Red Fort
- DMRC closed entry and exit gates of yellow, green, violet and blue lines in surge of farmers protest
- Delhi Police fires tear-gas shells on farmers near Akshardham temple and Sanjay Gandhi Transport Nagar
- Protesting farmers break barricades at Delhi borders, entering the national capital ahead of time