“This bucket of rusty nails and screws represents the weight of oppression, for all those who have been neglected, thrown out, and left behind, as society keeps pushing forward without a conscience for us.”

Day 5 of our How We Will 2020 gathering, we had the good fortune to be welcomed to Sweet Water Foundation, on the graces of Kim Sherobbi’s ongoing collaboration with Emmanuel Pratt, Sweet Water’s inspired voice and co-founder. From our tentative arrival onto this Commonwealth impulse, finding our seats in the round, sitting on hand made chairs and benches, built out of salvaged wood, each chair sings with strength, confidence and thoughtfulness amidst their vulnerability.

Re-Purposing, redeeming, reclaiming, resetting, the gesture and the intention grows deeper on this humble grounds for community’s future. In the course of a rough decade, Emmanuel and the team have been thinking and doing the work of empowering belonging through showing up and getting busy. If you like something they built, they’d rather teach you how to build one than sell it to you.

Anyone who finds their way onto the now four block plot (and growing), can become a co-worker and initiate a project. Sweet Water invites the community to activate their spaces for local gatherings, farmer’s markets, performances; walk up and feed yourself on the gorgeous farm. This is the resurrection of the commons, and it is built of blood and sweat, and is soul nourishment and living idealism.

As Emmanuel unfolds the living picture of this offering to all, one experiences the grasp and distance into the future, which these friends are building for. Responding to my question in the Think Barn, Big Mike leans over, “How far into the future are we looking? It’s INFINITE”… Sweet Water is collaborating with local and visiting engineers in all kinds of visionary vocations from Policy to Urban Design, generating and directing a new narrative, as we are in dire need of thriving sustainable forms for social life to find harmony, there is no easy way around it.

Marcus Lewis of the Brightmoor Makers was silently taking it all in, until Emmanuel called him out across the barn, “I want to know what you are thinking?” He instantly answers, “I am thinking when can I come back and learn!” I am sure this was heartening news for Bart Eddy, Marcus’s “elder apprentice”, eager to bring this striving in collaboration with the Brightmoor neighborhood of Detroit.

We got performative, and posed for some snapshots with this new water well, enacting what it would look like to have a well in the middle of metropolis, in a barn, on a farm. They will turn these pictures into drawings, and think about them, and share them, until it grows into reality. This is the necessary power of imagination in the modern world.

THANK YOU SO MUCH SWEET WATER FOUNDATION! We were gifted a glimpse into a powerful work and want to build relationship and support with these friends working here. It felt like another world, just 20 minutes from Elderberries in Lincoln Square, and new possibilities were opened. Kim was an awesome “visiting host” as well, along with the hearty community sharing responsibility for wellness there. Thank you Sam for visiting our space, and hope to have you guys here soon for workshops and conversations in the future.