Sunday, December 11, 2016

Allen Parleir & Elia Woods

Photo Credit: Turtle Rock Farm

Lia and Allen believe
that food security is
a basic human right.

Nominated by Gonzalo Guaman

“Think Globally, Act Locally” is more than a bumper sticker to Allen and Lia. It is the way they live on a daily basis. They have spent thirty years not just growing food, but growing community through growing food, and bringing front yard gardens, urban farming, and community gardening into the mainstream in Oklahoma City.

We are proud to recognize Allen and Lia among the 2016 winners of the Oklahoma Human Rights Award.

Two decades ago, Lia and Allen, along with Brian Hearn, co-founded the Central Park Community Gardens. Starting with several vacant lots on NW 31st and Shartel, they bio-remediated the soil to make it safe for planting vegetables, and they began working with neighbors and local school children and youth to plant a community green space with vegetables, herbs, flowers and fruit trees.

Ten years ago, Allen started the environmental youth group “Closer To Earth” which focuses on teenagers doing community service required by the schools or courts, teaching them about landscaping, organic gardening, zero-landfill events, and environmental advocacy.
Six years ago, Lia started organizing for an urban farm in the neighborhood. As more people joined in the effort, CommonWealth Urban Farms grew into existence. CommonWealth is a catalyst for intentional, healthful community development through gardening. CommonWealth offers workshops and service / learning events on gardening, composting and urban farming.

Closer To Earth and CommonWealth volunteers are also responsible for picking up and composting several tons of food waste every week from Whole Foods, diverting it from the landfill and turning it into a valuable resource.
Lia and Allen have woven their efforts to create social justice through these three sister organizations, attracting countless volunteers who join in to learn specific skills of food self-reliance as well as the more tangible benefits of life lived within community.

Lia and Allen believe that food security is a basic human right, and our community becomes stronger and more resilient as we learn to grow more of our food together. Every person has the right to live in a safe, vibrant, diverse community. Sustainable gardening brings neighbors outside where people of different backgrounds can connect in the common language of food. It increases biological diversity, promotes physical and social health, and creates an atmosphere of abundance and sharing.

The Oklahoma Human Rights Awards are co-sponsored each year by the Oklahoma Universal Human Rights Alliance and the Oklahoma City chapter of the United Nations Association. 

Previous winners of the award include educators, physicians, students, and community volunteers from many different communities and all walks of life. They are united by their enduring commitment to the values and principles expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

A complete list of 2016 Human Rights Award winners.

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