Why I Nominated Ron Finley for the GOOD 100

Illustration by Lauren Tamaki Ron Finley, a.k.a. the “gangster gardener,” has a renegade approach to counteracting obesity and fast-food...

Illustration by Lauren Tamaki

Ron Finley, a.k.a. the “gangster gardener,” has a renegade approach to counteracting obesity and fast-food dependency: He takes over vacant or underused lots and uses them for urban farming. With aphorisms like “Drive-thrus are killing more people than drive-bys” and “Growing your own food is like printing your own money,” he is an inspiration to anyone who thinks hard about the problem of food deserts, where access to fresh ingredients barely exists.

Spend an afternoon with Finley in South Central Los Angeles, as I did recently, and you’ll understand the magic of his gospel, “Plant Some Shit.” We were meeting about a plan he had to convert a shipping container on an empty lot into a café that would serve dishes using the fruits and vegetables grown in the immediate vicinity. These impromptu powwows aren’t unusual for Finley. He regularly holds court in the garden on the curbside just outside his home—the very strip of land that spurred his identity shift from fashion designer to guerrilla-gardening guru. (After receiving a ticket for planting arugula and other edibles on his parkway—L.A.-speak for curb—he successfully fought the city to have the law changed.) As we wandered among giant sunflower stalks that I later found out were planted in memory of his friend (former NBA player) Robert Horry’s late daughter, Finley interrupted our conversation every few minutes to have me taste feathery but potent celery leaves or crack open a bursting purple fig (fig naysayers: Try a fresh one off a tree).

Eventually, we sat on a couple of old tree trunks facing the street amid overgrown pumpkin patches and fragrant lavender bushes. Passersby of all ages and races leaned out of their car windows and, amazed by this tiny, teeming urban forest, waved and shouted things like “Yo, sweet garden!” I felt like a celebrity just sitting there.

People are drawn to Finley not just because he says things like “If kids grow kale, they eat kale,” but because he’s a visionary who sees a universe of potential on even the tiny strip of green between the sidewalk and the curb. He has already hosted a bunch of grassroots dig-ins where anyone can get his or her hands dirty. And through partnerships with the city of Los Angeles, and with the support of community organizations, foundations, and corporate sponsorships, Finley will soon be bringing together kids and adults to plant food forests in vacant or underused lots.

It’s a vision that can be translated to other inner cities, too. You don’t need much more than a shovel, a few seeds, and some imagination.

Lara Rabinovitch is the food editor of GOOD.

Gap has teamed up with GOOD to celebrate the GOOD 100, our annual round-up of individuals at the cutting-edge of creative impact. Gap + GOOD are challenging you to join in. We all have something to offer. #letsdomore

via Jim Browing / YouTube

Jim Browning is a YouTuber from the UK who has an amazing ability to catch scammers in the act.

In this video, he responds to a scam email claiming he bought a laptop by breaking into the scammer's computer. In the process he uncovers where the scammers work, their banking information, and even their personal identities.

"I got an 'invoice' email telling me that I had paid for a $3800 laptop," Browning writes on his YouTube page. "No links... just a phone number. It's a real shame that these scammers emailed me because I was able to find out exactly who they were and where the were."

Keep Reading
HG B / YouTube

Danielle Reno of Missouri left her car running and it was stolen by thieves. But she wasn't going to let her car go so easily.

For 48 hours this owner of a pet rescue tracked the charges being made on her credit card. Ultimately, she found her car at a local Applebee's, and then went after the thieves.

Keep Reading
via Bossip / Twitter

Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders took aim at former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg onstage at Wednesday's Las Vegas Democratic debate, likening the billionaire businessman to President Donald Trump and questioning his ability to turn out voters.

Sanders began by calling out Bloomberg for his stewardship of New York's stop and frisk policy that targeted young black men.

Keep Reading