Ep. 49: Changing the Narrative - Reclaiming Ecological, Economic, Social and Political Power (feat. Antonio Cosme)

Antonio Cosme is an indigenous (Coahuiltecan and Boricua) writer, public speaker, entrepreneur, radical economist, educator, artist, beekeeper and farmer from Southwest, Detroit. Much of his work has been dedicated to lecturing, writing, and acting in opposition to the neoliberal assault on Detroit and water. Antonio has a unique gift for connecting social movements with struggles for land reclamation and intersectional environmental justice.   

Setting down in urban SW Detroit, our guide Antonio helps us clear the mists of our historical amnesia. We face the genocide and removal of indigenous people from the land and how that is directly connected with the degradation of Michigan's environment and clear-cutting of old growth forests. That foundation of injustice shaped how a land evolved and we find the mentality echoed throughout Michigan's history right up to the incredible loss of civic rights for black and brown communities after the 2008 financial crisis. Through experience in local politics, Antonio found he could have the most impact in addressing the repercussions of these social, economic and political forces as a community organizer.   

In wrestling with massive issues, Antonio sought replenishment through a relationship with nature and the land. In creating an urban farm from derelict properties stolen by banks, he found a powerful ally in mushrooms. As he began cultivating and foraging for fungi, he recognized their ability to heal soil, but also heal people. Through projects like Black to the Land and his work with the National Wildlife Federation, he is exposing children from inner city Detroit to the power of natural spaces. While it can be hard to mobilize POC communities who are the most impacted by urban pollution, he hopes by having people fall in love with nature they can take up their rightful place on the front lines of championing environmental justice.   

Wading through more and more examples of systemic inequality, we have to ask - can the US political system actually offer lasting solutions when it comes to making positive environmental, social and economic change? What Antonio proposes is a continued effort from the grassroots and local government level on up to shift our cultural narratives around economics, environment, land and US history. By escaping the polarizing political party lines, we can find a populist common ground and collectively dictate a new path centered on fundamental human values like access to clean food and water, access to nature, access to education, access to land, and access to meaningful work.   

Directed, Recorded, Produced by: Mushroom Hour (@welcome_to_mushroom_hour

Music by: Ancient Baby (https://peckthetowncrier.bandcamp.com/)   
Art by: Wyn Di Stefano (http://www.wyndistefano.com/)   

Episode Resources   
Antonio Cosme IG: https://www.instagram.com/swdetroitjesus/ 
The Soul of Soil (book): https://www.amazon.com/Soul-Soil-Soil-Building-Gardeners-Farmers/dp/1890132314 
The Entrepreneurial State (book): https://www.amazon.com/Entrepreneurial-State-Debunking-Public-Private/dp/1610396138
Hajoon Chang (economist): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ha-Joon_Chang
Ryan Gates (inspiration): https://www.instagram.com/terrestrialfungi/

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