Meet Ron Finley, Los Angeles-based gardener and community leader. He takes hard soil and makes things bloom. And as far as he’s concerned, that’s what truly makes anyone – men in particular – original gangstas.
“Gardening is gangsta: Mother Nature is gangsta. Being educated, creative and self-sustaining is gangsta,” writes Finley on Positive.News. “That whole concept was about turning a negative into a positive. If you want to be gangsta about anything, make it about building your community, sharing knowledge.”
Finley, who grew up without a male role model, is the father of “three magnificent” sons. His job as a positive male figure largely concerns serving his family and community, starting with the art of planting and cultivating as a vehicle for change.
“Why is it easier to get alcohol than an organic apple?” he questions, presumably in regards to the historic isolation (and perpetual design) of black and brown neighborhoods. “Why, in certain communities here, is it easier to get a gun than it is to get an organic carrot? Cities are designed for commerce, not for people.”
As someone who understands the social implications placed on men, Finley is challenging the way many of us define masculinity, placing the utmost importance on community building, each one teach one, self-sustaining gardens/farms and exercising emotional intelligence.
“I don’t really separate being a man and being a human being – being a conscious citizen of this planet. We all want healthy food, clean water, and to be loved. I don’t see holding back emotion or affection as being a man. I’ve cried on stage. All that ‘real men don’t cry’ bullshit? Yeah we do. Real people cry.”
Read more about Rewriting the Man Code, here.