Rediscovering her was very exciting since this links my transition to my first few years here in the US in the late 1980s. Back then, I was involved with the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, which Addams cofounded. Addams combines philosophical writing with practical application – something that I find very intriguing as well. Researching Addams a bit more, I discovered that the Hull House museum has an urban farm! Their mission underscores the interconnectedness of urban farming and community:
The mission for the Hull-House Heirloom Farm reflects our belief that monocultures are undesirable and dangerous for the environment and that promoting a pluralistic society is essential for a healthy democracy. The Farm affirms the link between a healthy, diverse bio-culture that is sustained by varieties of heirloom fruits and vegetables; and a vibrant and diverse culture in society, promoted by artisans, farmers, ethnic restaurants, and markets and by the people who support these spaces.
I am planning on learning a lot more about Jane Addams and her philosophy and I will share here some of what I find. To me Addams not only thought (and wrote) about creating democratic community; she lived it. For that she’s been scorned by “real” philosophers:
Although her activism and accomplishments were widely lauded by her contemporaries, Addams’ work was mapped onto conventional gender understandings: male philosophers such as John Dewey, William James, and George Herbert Mead were regarded as providing original progressive thought while Addams was seen as brilliantly administering their theories.
Even more reason to bring back her philosophy and apply it to our world, which desperately needs progressive community building with urban farms so that we can survive as a species.