community organizing

Recap: Healthy Schools, Healthy Kids - A Town Hall and Community Forum

by Beatriz Beckford

The mood was cheerful on the evening of March 21, 2012 as over 100 parents from East New York, Brownsville, and Cypress Hills gathered to speak their minds about school food issues impacting their children. The event, Healthy Schools, Healthy Kids: A Town Hall and Community Forum, was organized by the Brooklyn Food Coalition, NYC Department of Health, and United Community Centers and attended by several elected officials.

NYC Food Justice Advocates Attend U.S. Social Forum

Somewhere in Detroit, orange braceleted activists were discussing the rights of domestic workers, pushing for more transparent democracy, and taking breaks to eat ice cream in support of rural farmers while serenaded by a radical marching band protesting the current prison system to the tune of a Lady Gaga hit. It did, in fact, seem like another Detroit was happening, as promised in the addendum to the week’s slogan: “Another World Is Possible, Another U.S. Is Necessary.”  This U.S. Social Forum, which took place June 22nd through June 26th, was the second time such a gathering has happened in the U.S.  The first occurred in 2007 in Atlanta, growing out of the World Social Forum movement.  According to its website, “The World Social Forum is an open meeting place where social movements, networks, NGOs and other civil society organizations opposed to neo-liberalism and a world dominated by capital or by any form of imperialism come together to pursue their thinking, to debate ideas democratically, to formulate proposals, share their experiences freely and network for effective action. Since the first world encounter in 2001, it has taken the form of a permanent world process seeking and building alternatives to neo-liberal policies.”  As a result, over 15,000 activists and organizers had descended on venues throughout Detroit to discuss, build, and act.  

Black Farmers in America and Upcoming Community Forum

At the February 26th fundraiser in support of the November 30th Black Farmers and Urban Gardeners Conference, John Francis Ficara presented his award winning photographic documentary project Black Farmers in America.  He spent four years photographing black farmers across the country, witnessing firsthand the difficulties faced by families wanting to continue living and working on their land. In these images of financial hardship, survival, and the people’s bond to the soil, Black Farmers in America documents for posterity the struggle of black farmers in America at the end of the twentieth century to preserve their heritage. You can view some of the images here.

According to Ficara, "In 1920, black Americans made up 14 percent of all the farmers in the nation and worked 16 million acres of land. Today, battling the onslaught of globalization, changing technology, an aging workforce, racist lending policies, and even the U.S. Department of Agriculture, black farmers account for less than 1 percent of the nation's farmers and cultivate fewer than 3 million acres of farmland. Inside these statistics is a staggering story of human loss: when each farm closed, those farmers, their spouses, children, grandchildren, and the people they hired, all had to leave a way of life that had existed in their families for generations."  

Next up for the Black Farmers and Urban Gardeners is Saturday's Community forum at 388 Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn, between Hoyt and Bond, which will occur from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Description of the event:

Join the conversation and learn how you can take action around food, farming and policy in the black community!

What’s for Dinner?

East New York Grub Party

 Posted by Kristin

 

Back in October, around fifty representatives from the New York City area attended the Second Annual Growing Food and Justice Gathering in Milwaukee. On the first night of the conference, author and food activist Bryant Terry hosted a Grub dinner, meant to promote conversation on food justice topics over healthy, mostly local food.  Now East New York Farms! has brought the concept back to Brooklyn, and is hosting its own version of a Grub potluck to promote conversations and relationships.

The potluck, which is also BYOU (Bring Your Own Utensils, Plate and Cup), will be held at the United Community Centers, also the home of East New York Farms! (613 New Lots Ave).  The event is co-sponsored by Jin's Journey, Food Security Roundtable, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, and the Brooklyn Food Coalition.  Any and all urban farmers, gardeners, cooks, chefs, food activists, food bloggers and foodies of Brooklyn are invited to meet fellow food enthusiasts, build new relationships and learn about the food related initiatives taking place in Brooklyn.

The food will center around local and seasonal dishes brought by the guests.  Organizers are hoping to compile recipes from contributed food, so if you are interested in attending, write your recipe on an index card and bring it along.



Where?

United Community Centers

613 New Lots Avenue @ corner of Schenck Avenue

Take 3 train to Van Siclen Avenue



You can RSVP here with the dish you would like to contribute:  https://spreadsheets.google.com/viewform?formkey=dGg1QXRjTDVrd05pbjJTYmJXUnpKbWc6MA

Interview with Nancy Romer of the Brooklyn Food Coalition

BFC logoLynn Fredericks of Family Cook Productions interviewed Nancy Romer, the General Coordinator of the Brooklyn Food Coalition, on behalf of FSNYC.

LF: How do you see the BFC working in collaboration as part of the greater overall and healthy and sustainable food systems movement in NYC?

NR: Well, I want to start off by saying that the BFC stands on the shoulders of all the really important work that FSNYC partners and others have done over the years. We wouldn't be here without the research, education, organization and advocacy that came before we started organizing.

The BFC's structure lends itself particularly well to connecting grassroots activists with the existing food justice movement, and enlarging it. Our structure is like a hub with spokes -- each spoke heads into a different Brooklyn neighborhood (currently, there are twelve "spokes" for the 12 neighborhoods we are working in). Because each neighborhood spoke has a lot of autonomy, each neighborhood organization decides whom and how to partner with folks working on our issues. So those could be community organizations, businesses, community gardens, schools, houses of worship as well as, of course, food justice organizations. The hub part of the structure allows people to know what their fellow activists in other neighborhoods are doing, share ideas and best practices, and work borough-wide. We see ourselves as bringing people, most already active in improving their communities, together to see that we're all in the same movement. We also are a space for new activists looking for an organization that they have an effect in, that they can influence its direction.

Brooklyn Farmers and Friends Will Get Down to Grow Food Justice

While others ask how to build a more inclusive good food movement, Henry Harris has an answer: beets.

As a primary organizer of the Food Security Roundtable, Henry has recently worked with Mothers on the Move of the South Bronx to bring a ton of fresh organic vegetables, including over three hundred pounds of beets, straight from farmers in Vermont to communities where such quality produce can be difficult to find.

And now he is turning his energy to another innovative collaboration, working with staff and volunteers from Just Food and other organizations to build a diverse delegation from New York to attend the Growing Food and Justice Initiative (GFJI) conference in Milwaukee at the end of October.

The Growing Food and Justice Initiative came about through the work of Growing Power, Will Allen’s national non-profit. As the successes of Allen and his organization are being lauded by everyone from Bill Clinton to the Macarthur Foundation, this year’s conference will focus on building cross-cultural understanding for systems change.

Back to School Brings "Time for Lunch" Grassroots Campaign

Posted by Lynn Fredericks, FamilyCook Productions 

 

When the issue of making a healthy school lunch available to public school children comes up this fall for congressional reauthorization of the USDA legislation known as Child Nutrition, a more grassroots ‘citizens’ campaign has also been unleashed by Slow Food USA.

 

Brooklyn Food Conference- One Participant's Reflections

Cross-posted by Paula Crossfield, www.civileats.com On Saturday, 3,000 people gathered at John Jay public high school for the Brooklyn Food Conference, a grassroots, volunteer-organized discussion around the state of our food system, featuring keynote talks by Dan Barber, Anna Lappé, Raj Patel, and LaDonna Redmond. Along with these talks were 70 workshops throughout the classrooms of the school, on subjects as varied as growing your own food, starting a co-op and the value of breastfeeding. According to the accompanying bright yellow guide, one of the goals of this event was to "bring Brooklynites together to demand -- and participate in creating -- a vital, healthy, and just food system available to everyone." By my assessment, that is just what's begun to happen. Kicking off the day, Dan Barber gave a chef's perspective on sustainability (speech text here) through a story about two fish he has served, each labeled 'sustainable.' He found out the first fish was receiving chicken in its feed, which the grower thought sustainable because they were taking advantage of the waste produced by the chicken industry. Grossed out, Barber began to use the second instead, which grew as a part of the recuperation of an entire ecosystem, "a farm that doesn’t feed its animals and measures its success by the health of its predators." He warned, “We are on the verge of an ecological credit crisis, and it’s going to make this economic credit crisis a walk in the park.” In order to reverse this, he seemed to say, we have to rebuild farms and communities.

Interview With Sam Lipschultz, Northeast Regional Coordinator for The Real Food Challenge

Posted by Kerry Trueman, eatingliberally.orgThe Real Food Challenge is a nationwide network of college and university students who are campaigning to bring food that’s local, fair, ecologically sound, and humane to their campus dining halls. With colleges and universities spending some $4 billion annually on food, the students leading the RFC see a tremendous opportunity to leverage that purchasing power to effect real change in our food system.According to the RFC’s website, there are already at least 300 institutions with college farms, fair trade initiatives, or farm-to-cafeteria programs, and other campuses are following suit. I asked the RFC’s Northeast Regional Coordinator, Sam Lipschultz, how the RFC is progressing in its goal of increasing the availability of fresh, fair foods in campus cafeterias:KT: Your organization, The Real Food Challenge, is essentially seeking to reintroduce pure, unadulterated, healthy foods at colleges and universities all over the country by enlisting your fellow students to demand more locally sourced and sustainably grown foods on their campuses. This entails, in part, working with huge food distribution companies who’ve traditionally relied on a centralized, industrialized approach to supplying their clients. Are you and your RFC colleagues persuading these corporations to alter their buying habits?SL: Students across the country are working, often in alliance with faculty and administrators, to demand that their food services procure and serve real food--and they're winning. The beauty of a national initiative like the Real Food Challenge is that it shows the food service provider at a given school that thousands of students and allies have the back of the student advocates on that campus.

Reflections on the First Annual Gathering of the Growing Food and Justice for All Initiative

Posted by Jeff Heehs

Dismantling racism in the food system, within and by way of sustainable food projects, was the focus of a gathering of around 150 community food activists from all over the U.S. and Canada from September 18 to 21 in Milwaukee. Group trainings and discussions provided “safe space” for participants to share a challenging, emotional process of understanding and confronting racial privilege and oppression in ourselves and our communities, amid workshops and talks on food justice and sustainability initiatives.

The conference was the product of planning by the Growing Food and Justice for All Initiative (GFJI), an outgrowth of activities initiated within the Community Food Security Coalition. Milwaukee’s urban farming non-profit Growing Power organized and sponsored the event. Just two days after the conference adjourned we were all thrilled by the announcement that Will Allen, the towering founder of Growing Power and host of the Gathering, was named recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Grant for his pioneering work in urban agriculture and community building.

Prior to the main gathering a core group of facilitators attended an intensive leadership training program on interpersonal methods to understand and challenge racial inequities in general and in the food system. These facilitators then conducted workshops, called Dismantling Racism 101, for others attending the Gathering. Using techniques of non-verbal interaction resembling games or silent theater among mixed groups, followed by open discussion, the workshops were a powerful, revealing experience.

Other workshop leaders presented on topics including:
- projects promoting food sovereignty and self determination among groups of Native Americans, immigrant farm workers, rural latino communities, urban communities of color and others
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