The Great Unload VI: Washington Park Goat Farm

The transition towards becoming a card-carrying member of Generation NPR was a gradual, sneaky one. Pick your cliche, but I didn’t see it coming: the game’s over, the end chapter is written, the revolution came from within. These days, I only watch documentaries, I only read non-fiction. If not for this persistent, gnawing sports talk radio problem, I’d only have the car “stereo” tuned from 88.1-90.7 fm. My music tastes line up with a really good mix-CD, offered as a premium with my next KWMU membership pledge. I’m one standard-issue, liberal, late-summer-of-lifer.

With my media desires still alive, I tend to run most thoughts about my future through an NPR-style prism. Could this project be a This American Life feature? Could that project spin-off a two-part feature for Slate? Can I do anything without thinking of it as a “project”?

The project of all projects, 2014-ready, is this one: founding a goat (and chicken and okra and pepper) farm in Washington Park. I’d start by buying multiple, nearby properties; a couple with structures and couple that are land-only would be ideal. (Then, you’re into “compound” mindset, which I where I aim to be.) After working through what I’d assume is a weird-and-byzantine set of regulations at the township’s city hall, the land could be tilled and the animal pens built. All through the process, cameras would roll, both still and video.

To be a white developer in any Washington Park context would bring along the underlying-to-overt elements of race and class, key thematic players in any, wort, NPR-style story. Organic farming and animal husbandry remain hot stories. Undertaking these efforts in a distressed neighborhood gives The Story even more gravitas, more currency.

Washington Park’s a town with needs, so many that a goat farm could probably exist in the context of this place; anyone going on the tax rolls would be welcome addition, seemingly. And yet…

There’d be challenges, more than a few. The per capita violence rate is real. You’d likely need to make some golden handshakes along the way. Distrust of the project’s basic intent would be part of the mix. But it’d also be fuel for The Story. It’s not located so far from the City center, but Washington Park’s its own entity, its own micro-world.

It’d be an interesting way to attack life.


Don’t think I’ll wind up living this life, as I lack the start-up cash, the business and farming skills, maybe even the social smarts. But if you wanna do it, I’m totally pitching in. Totally!