A Food Forest for the SPD
Why build a bunker when you could feed people?
The Seattle Police Department (SPD) wants to build a shiny new $160M bomb-proof headquarters for its North Precinct. Not only will this “state-of-the-art” complex feature delightful “amenities,” like a fancy-pants underground firing range and $17M (that’s SEVENTEEN MILLION DOLLAR) parking garage, it also includes “sustainable” landscape design and “green,” “eco-friendly” building materials &tc.
(Look, people: no landscape design in the service of the police state can be “sustainable” or “eco-friendly.”)
Needless to say, the idea of spending $160M in taxpayer dollars on the further militarization of our already problem-plagued police force has many Seattle residents voicing their concerns (ahem). This ostentatious display of power (and no matter how “community-focused,” any $160M project is a display of power) will only serve — indeed, HAS ALREADY only served — to sting
However, in the interest of improving relations between the SPD and the public, as well as addressing the apparent desire of the North Precinct to be “sustainable” and “green,” I have a modest proposal: instead of building an enormous cop-castle that will underline the division between the police and the people they (ostensibly) serve, why not make a food forest?
Here’s a very basic draft of my proposed design:
- Instead of taking up so much space with buildings and parking, let’s have a small Community Engagement Center where anyone — police or public — can drop in and use the facilities, or take classes.
- Let’s grow edible fruits and nuts, and have a huge vegetable garden, and invite anyone hungry to come and eat.
- Let’s require the hard-working men and women of the SPD to spend at least one shift a week growing food, tending the land, and feeding whomever shows up and asks for it. There’s no better way to improve relations with people than by feeding them.
We have a precedent here in Seattle. The Beacon Hill Food Forest serves as a profound demonstration of community powered agriculture. As part of their mission, the Beacon Hill Food Forest allows anyone to partake of what it grows, taking as much as they need, no questions asked. So far, society hasn’t crumbled on Beacon Hill.
Obviously, this design is extremely cursory and was drafted in five minutes. However, if for some reason the SPD and Seattle City Council were willing to take me up on my proposition, I would gladly offer my professional design services, pro bono. The SPD has already spent $17M on design and “soft costs;” I figure with the right approach, we could design and implement this whole thing for about 95% less than current projected estimates.
Just think: instead of interacting in a hulking, intimidating “control center” (which would essentially be an annex of an expensive parking garage), police and the public could walk through a garden together, grab some veggies for a sandwich and some cherries for dessert. It’d be a pretty revolutionary alternative to a status quo which continues perpetuating a system of exploitation and power imbalance.
I mean, it could work, right?