Guerilla Gardener – How The Art of Ron Finley Is Changing The Soul Of South Central L.A.

– Posted in: Garden Musings

‘Gardening is the most therapeutic and defiant act you can do.‘ Ron Finley, a guerilla gardener in South Central Los Angeles

If you’ve ever questioned how to transform an inner city culture, listen to Ron Finley.

If you want to understand the transformative power of gardening, listen to Ron Finley.

If you want to be inspired, listen to Ron Finley.

If you want to meet with Ron, come to his garden – with a shovel – ‘so we can plant some shit’.

After seeing this video on Brene Brown’s blog, Ordinary Courage, I returned to it to view again and again. To say that Ron has left an indelible imprint on me is an understatement.

NOW IT’S YOUR TURN. What do you think of Ron’s talk?

Fran Sorin

Fran is the author of the highly-acclaimed book, Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening, which Andrew Weil, M.D., recommends as "a profound and inspiring book."  

A graduate of the University of Chicago with Honors in Psychology, she is also a gardening and creativity expert, coach, inspirational speaker, CBS radio news gardening correspondent, and Huffington Post Contributor.

Learn more about Fran and get free resources that will help you improve your life at

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Fran Sorin
22 Comments… add one

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Jean Marsh April 16, 2013, 7:40 am

Ron Finley – awesome, the truth has been spoken. Thanks for sharing this.

Cathy April 16, 2013, 10:52 am


This, as usual, is another fabulous post. You always introduce us to the most amazing people, places, and projects.

Listening to him, it occurred to me that if people simply planted up the vacant lots in all of these inner city neighborhoods, we could add beauty (cut flowers), food, and seasonings to every home touched by hunger n this country.

What an amazing movement he started. I am appalled that the city tried to interfere! They should have encouraged more people to get involved! It didn’t cost them anything, and he’s so correct about hte poorest members of society not having access to the best and freshest food.

The bureaucracy so aggravates me!

It’s so nice to see you posting!


MarkNDenver April 16, 2013, 5:16 pm

Thanks Fran – this was the inspiration I needed for today – it is so good to hear and see something worthwhile each and every day – makes the world a better place. Just plant something – it will feed not just the body but also the soul. Brene is really into the soul food of life.

Jeannine April 17, 2013, 2:17 am

Thanks for sharing that, I loved listening to him make so much sense. Wouldn’t it be a great thing if it caught on and moved across the country? Jeannine

Fran Sorin April 17, 2013, 4:39 am

Jeannine – It actually is happening in parts of the country. Check out what Lilly Yeh has done in North Philadelphia….
Just in philly alone, there is a lot going on. Yes, it would be wonderful if every urban area got on the bandwagon. I think Ron’s inspiration can help get things rolling in cities that haven’t yet picked up on this trend. Fran

Fran Sorin April 17, 2013, 4:41 am

Mark – Yes indeed. Just planting something and watching it grow is magical. I think it’s one of the greatest gifts in life. Fran

Fran Sorin April 17, 2013, 4:42 am

My pleasure. When I first saw him, he blew my mind. when I watched the video again, I had the same reaction ~ which is rare. Fran

Fran Sorin April 17, 2013, 4:45 am

Cathy –
Good to see you here. Ron is pretty extraordinary. You know, Philadelphia has done a lot of this through PHS. I think it has also activated communities to take pride in the entire neighborhood. I would guess that some other urban areas are doing this as well. Hope you’re having a good spring. Fran

Cassidy April 19, 2013, 4:44 pm

Love it! Ted talks are always so inspiring, but I really love this one!

Fran Sorin April 19, 2013, 11:14 pm

They sure are. But Ron’s ability to emote about a subject that is so dear to my heart made it extra special for me. Fran

Christi Gormley April 20, 2013, 6:49 am

Yes,yes,yes!!! I’m sooo glad I came to your sight and found this. I can hardly contain myself. I too am so tired of sitting around at society and master gardener meetings talking about what we could be doing. This guy is a real modern day hero and I intend to share his story as much as I can,Thank you! Can’t wait to look around your site some more.

Aaron April 21, 2013, 9:13 am

This was an amazing and most inspiring talk by Ron, never heard about him before. Thanks to you Fran, got to know about this giant of a personality with such knowledge and stature.

Christi Gormley April 21, 2013, 6:22 pm

I continue to be so inspired by Ron. How great would it be to have one day where as many garden bloggers as possible posted Ron’s TED talk? Hundreds of thousands of gardeners reached. A Pant Shit Day! I want everyone to see this. I want my town to do this.

Fran Sorin April 22, 2013, 11:13 pm

Great idea Christi. Let me know if you plan on going ahead with this – if not, I will probably do so. Fran

Fran Sorin April 22, 2013, 11:15 pm

You’re welcome. I think that anyone who watches Ron finds him incredibly inspirational but is also in awe of him ~ Fran

Fran Sorin April 22, 2013, 11:24 pm

Hi Christi-
I just happened to read this comment after reading your other one. Am glad that you feel so inspired. As you wrote in your later comment, it is time to get the word out about him and other gardening activists.

Christi Gormley April 23, 2013, 7:57 pm

Pease do! I have only been blogging for about a month and I don’t really have much of a network to make something like that happen but it looks like you may. Looking forward to it 🙂

Fran Sorin April 24, 2013, 12:49 am

Let me think of an effective way of doing it. Thanks for the idea!

Kathryn @aquaponics April 24, 2013, 9:39 am

Guerilla Gardening is such a great idea. I hope that more and more people will join this movement to reclaim public space for mother nature.
Inspiring video, glad I found it.

Jeff May 7, 2013, 1:27 am

Fran…I first came across that link maybe a month ago the day it was posted here locally in Phoenix, Arizona by the Valley Permaculture Guild….already being a regular fan of , I went to check it out immediately… what Ron is doing is so inspiring… I have passed it on to many. Thanks for featuring this. God bless him for all the good he is doing.

Fran Sorin May 7, 2013, 3:55 am

Jeff – Thanks for adding your comment. His TED talk was a gift for all of us – inspirational, ideal personality to communicate what he is trying to accomplish – and yes, the work itself is phenomenal. FYI – there was a pretty in depth article about him a few weeks ago in the NY Times – try to source it out – it’s worth reading. Always good to meet a like minded soul – Fran

de baker May 7, 2013, 8:19 am

Inspiring to see new information,pictures and idea that can be used in my own place, thanks

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