January 23, 2012. As NEXT Steps continues to develop the true functions and benefits of Atwood Community Gardens and our Youth Entrepreneur Program, we have been successful in securing educational partners that bring a higher level of understanding of the global impact our work can have. To date, we have been able to introduce at-risk youth to career pathways and specialists that practice environmental stewardship, climatology, water conservation practices, sustainable industrial design and now ecological health.
During his visit to Atlanta, Dr. James Griffin of Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) Department of Community Health and Preventive Medicine invited Dana Jewel Harris, Executive Director of The NEXT Steps Youth Entrepreneur Program to meet with Jarid Manos, author of GHETTO PLAINSMAN. GHETTO PLAINSMAN is a “tough, beautifully written and deeply spiritual story of redemption and healing through America’s underbelly and soul, from a rural childhood to the inner city streets to the even more violent outback of the American West.
Because of our unique position in Atlanta’s growing urban agriculture trend, the significance of our meeting with Mr. Manos was to understand the Twelve Components of Ecological Health.
Mr. Manos defines the twelve components of ecological health as “the interdependent health of humans, animals and ecosystems”. By sharing his life’s story, we were able to identify synergies that exist between the mission of his organization – the Great Plains Restoration Council – Atwood Community Gardens (as our local urban agriculture model), and the NEXT Steps Youth Entrepreneur Program’s social entrepreneur curriculum. We left the meeting with the understanding of how The Twelve Components of Ecological Health clearly define our roles and responsibilities as youth development instructors and environmental stewards (to):
- Create Safe Places for people and wildlife
- Protect, teach and serve children
- Understand consequences of actions
- Strive to cause less pain to others
- Embrace vitality
- Embrace earned confidence and humility
- Live like a watershed
- Embrace physical work
- Fight environmental injustice
- Seek peace and health-based solutions
- Give thanks
- Seek silence, wisdom, deeper thought and personal growth
Over the next year, NEXT Steps will incorporate the Twelve Components of Ecological Health into our social entrepreneur curriculum at Atwood Community Gardens to help address the socio-economic conditions that are negatively impacting the communities within the West End.