The nicest ghetto I ever visited

Day 11 – to Youngstown, Ohio

Cierra gets home at 4am & has to leave before 9am to get to her other job. I leave her a thank you note & something towards her own adventures. Jess & Elle get in touch -they stayed the night in Pittsburgh as well so we meet up & find our way to Youngstown. I stop in at a bike shop to get my bike checked & the pedals unjam easily. The bike mechanic shows me what to do if they jam again, scratches his head a bit & adjusts my gears, probably just for something else to do. 

I arrive at our next host’s house. Joshua & Emily are artists who live in 2 amazing houses that they bought, abandoned & in a state, for $2500 & $8000. They have worked hard on them &, along with their warm welcome, I quickly feel at home. Emily gives me a homemade comfrey & plaintain salve for my cuts & later Cris, Joshua’s mum, gives me a wjole tub. Cris lives around the corner & is the person who found us.

We eat & drink into the night around an open fire. Without exception the Green Riders fall for Joshua & Emily’s tiny kitten, Bear, who they found in a dumpster 4 weeks ago. He now goes everywhere with them. Joshua & his mate have a go on their extra tall bicycles which have seats at least 7ft in the air. We are all blown away by the cool loving vibe of this place.  

We are invited to sleep anywhere & we do – inside on the couch, the floors, the music studio, the eaves, & outside in tents, hammocks, on the trampoline, & on all levels of the wooden climbing frame fashioned to look like a ship.

Day 12 – Rest day at Un-Abandoned Community Garden

Cris, Joshua & Emily have put efforts into creating positive community space in Youngstown – the murder capital of the USA. Crime & heroin are rife here & they constantly refer to being ‘in the ghetto’. They try to get people interested in building community & growing as a way of providing other choices as well as giving people access to fresh food. The local grocery options are poor & Joshua tells us about local kids who think fruit comes in a can. We clear rocks, create a path & flower bed, weed  & make a start on a hoop house. It is hot but lovely. The author of a book about ‘Humanure’ comes to speak to us about composting. He says that you can compost just about anything & makes several potentially overzealous comments about composting his mother in law.

We return to the house where one of Joshua & Emily’s friends is starting a BBQ. We have several visitors throughout the evening & it feels that a community has certainly been built.  A friend of theirs, who started her growing with several kiddie pools in an overrun back yard, tells us about her journey to open ‘Lady Buggs Farm’. Her passion is inspiring. Spray paint art, yoga & meditation happen before bed. What a wonderful rest.


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