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Mezzacello: Home Is Where The Lab Is

Mezzacello: Home Is Where The Lab Is
Jim Bruner | Mezzacello Mezzacello from North 20th Street

It never occurred to me that people might think that Mezzacello is a place that I go to do my work. Increasingly I meet people that ask me where Mezzacello is and then are surprised to learn that My home and Mezzacello are the same place. Mezzacello: Home is where the lab is.

How This Came About

I have written on this topic before. I fell into an opportunity to build a series of gardens to explore growing food and developing ecosystems and systems that would make that easier. I also am employed by the PAST Foundation and it seemed mutually beneficial to create an Applied STEM laboratory to explore the intersection between food and community.

Jim Bruner | Mezzacello

I credit PAST Foundation for inspiring me to start Mezzacello. It was when I began working with PAST in 2014 that I began to see the disconnect young people had between food and how it’s made and the wider disconnect between education and how what when we teach kids about food. I just copied what PAST Foundation was trying to model to schools and I never stopped.

Growing America to STEM Outdoor Innovation Lab to Mezzacello Urban Farm

PAST Foundation has been innovating in this space for over a decade. They ran a successful program in the mid 2000s called Growing America which sought to teach Applied STEM ideas to inner-city kids in the hopes that it would improve diets and understanding of food. And it did, but there was still a missing component.

Then I was hired to run the SOIL program alongside Kat Deaner (who was the PI for Growing America at PAST) and it was my job to help schools make good choices in implementing spaces for outdoor and food innovations. That’s where I learned that systems integration and commitment to seasons was key. It was that realization that drove me to create the learning lab at Mezzacello.

Complexity and Dependent Systems Integration

Very much like my job at PAST Foundation, it is not always easy to explain what I do here at Mezzacello – so I will make this easy. I live here and explore here to try to make the world a better place to live in and to find balance. The city is a dangerous place to be hungry and vulnerable in and I want to be a positive change for good in that space.

I love living in a place that inspires people and allows me to really manifest my mission of Grow, Maintain, Sustain, and Explain. During COVID19 lockdown, Mezzacello literally saved my life and my sanity. It was a beacon of hope and purpose for me in a world gone mad.

The key to success is a relentless commitment to iterative teaching and learning. Here I have failed – alot. But I learn from that failure.

The real innovation here is to not fear change and failure, but to treat it as a data point. I do hate failure, but I hate hard work even more. If I can develop a more robust and sustainable system via that failure, then that is a success in my book.

Here’s to continuing to push through and create a better world. The next steps are building my charity presence and non-profit status and finding new partners and sites to expand my mission. Wish me luck, I’ll probably need it.

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