Milwaukee's Sweet Water Organics

By James Godsil


Michigan Citizen, Dec. 12-18, 2010

JAMES GODSIl is a roofer, poet, civic entrepreneur and visionary. An activist in the civil rights and anti-Vietnam war movement in the 1960s, he has been a National Science Foundation and Fulbright fellow, an awardee for work related to the Bonobo Congo Bio-diversity Initiative, and the Board President of ESHAC, Inc., a community development corporation.

A board member of Growing Power Inc., 2005- 2010, he is the founder and webmaster of Milwaukee Renaissance, founder and president of Community Roofing & Restoration, Inc., and also co-founder of Sweet Water Organics.

The father of Rachel Godsil, Megan Godsil Jeyifo, Joseph and Bridie Godsil, he envisions the charismatic cities of the Sweet Water Seas (Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland, Toronto) collaborating to win a bio-regional Nobel Prize for Peace.

He and his partners invite on-line brainstorming around the miniaturization of Sweet Water Aquaponics systems for use in schools, museums, as well as small home systems and small businesses- GLB


Much of the story of Sweet Water is contained in the serendipitous power of the name.

Five or so years back, a polyglot group began "bathing Milwaukee in Rumi" through Milwaukee Renaissance on-line broadcasts and astonishing performances at Club Timbuktu, an African music and culture venue.

Michael Macey, a Sufi priest and enlightened State Department cultural attache, was thrilled that 30 of us had gathered at Riverwest's Woodland Pattern poetry bookstore. So he e-mailed us from Saudi Arabia offering us a Rumi reading upon returning to his beloved community in Milwaukee and a small farm a bit north.

The next morning, he was besides himself with joyful visions upon experiencing the magic of Will Allen and his Growing Power team.

Will and Macey "recognized" one another. Macey orchestrated Will's Address to the Royal Academy in London and a year later a visit by some of London's top "urban agrarians" to Growing Power projects in Milwaukee, Chicago, and New York.

At some point during all this, Macey told me that the First Americans named what we call the Great Lakes.the "Sweet Water Seas!" This concept sparked a Sweet Water vision, i.e., the collaboration of planetary citizens, first in the cities of the Great Lakes, then the world beyond, to advance a new technology called Aquaponics to renew our soil, our water, cities, our selves!

Milwaukee is greatly blessed with the ingredients required to co-create these fish veggie farms in historic factories and their yards for local markets.

Key to the initial inspiration was the historic partnership of Will Allen's Growing Power and Fred Binkowski's Great Lakes Water Institute, a link sparked by Jon Bales and Leon Todd of the Urban Aquaculture Center.

Growing Power has connected hundreds, even thousands, of Milwaukee citizens to the Good Food (R) evolution, including myself and the other two original partners of Sweet Water Organics, Josh Fraundorf, and Steve Lindner.

The Great Lakes Water Institute is funded by the Wisconsin Sea Grant Foundation to re-populate the Great Lakes with native fish and enable Aquaculture and Aquaponics to become, quite possibly, major 21st century industries.

Will has often said that Milwaukee is destined to become the urban agriculture city of America. Fred has proclaimed Milwaukee the likely urban aquaponic city of America.

Their teams, along with a deeply-rooted urban agriculture movement that includes the Milwaukee Urban Agriculture Network, the Victory Garden Initiative, Walnut Way, the Urban Ecology Center, Alice's Garden, Mother Jan's Riverwest projects, UW-Extension projects, Michael Field Institute, Center for Resilience, Well Spring, and more (!), provide the spirit and information necessary to explore whether the highest yielding form of urban agriculture, Aquaponics, can also help us grow a "higher humanity!"

So Sweet Water is an enterprise whose creatives stand on the shoulders of ying and yang giants!

Milwaukee’s Sweet Water Organics in Living for Change with Leave a Comment ______

My USSF Conversation with Immanuel Wallerstein can be read at

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