This week is In-Service at BCS. No kids, just teachers learning from each other and community members. I am lucky enough to get to cook for my colleagues three days in a row. There is nothing I love more than feeding people, so this is like a vacation retreat for me.
I'm so proud to be a part of this working community of learners, seekers, people who are always striving to be better at what they do, and at who they are, together and individually.
I love feeding them while they do the hard work of presenting to each other, reflecting, starting new projects, and deepening understanding of our community.
On these days, I even get to pop out of the kitchen to share some of my ideas and goals - what's going on in my heart and head at the moment. Today I shared this TED talk by Ron Finley, a self-proclaimed guerrilla gardener in South Los Angeles, with my co-workers. If you have 10 minutes, please watch. His plan is simple, his message inspirational. But what struck me the most was the aspect of justice. Because what's been in my head and heart lately is the idea of food justice.
Here's the video:
And here's what I wrote for my co-workers:
I'm so proud of you all and the effort you put into food here at BCS. I'm proud of the culture you have all created here - the importance you place on food and nutrition, and the work you all put in to backing up your belief in that importance.
Your work values not only nutrition, but food as a community experience. And that part, that positive community experience of food, is one of the things that can get lost for folks who are food insecure. I'm so proud that that concept is a part of the learning and care that happens here.
I've been feeling politicized lately.
And that's got me thinking about food justice. What is it? The larger definition is, simply, people need to be directly in charge of their food. They need to understand and participate in their food systems, as well as have access to enough healthy, appropriate food. It's a Big System idea. One that won't change on a large scale without Big System cooperation.
But my definition is a little different. Smaller. I think everyone needs access to enough healthy food to eat every day. And this access is a right, not a privilege. Everyone deserves it.
What we're doing here at BCS (with our food program, our family dinners, our garden projects, our take home bags, taste tests, family style meals and snacks, cooking with kids) is working toward food justice in our community.
Ron Finley saw that culture needed to change in his community to bring food justice to the people there. He also saw that those kinds of changes rarely happen from the top, down. The president - no matter who it is - isn't going to address food justice in the neighborhoods of South Los Angeles, or the Old North End of Burlington Vermont. This stuff happens from side to side, from neighbors helping neighbors, on the ground. On the space between the sidewalk and the street, if necessary.
He saw an opportunity to bring knowledge and power and opportunity to folks who were lacking it. All by increasing access to healthy food.
We are doing the same. We are demystifying food systems - planting, growing, harvesting, cooking, sharing. We are nourishing a different, non-stressful, autonomous relationship with food.
We are creating a culture of inclusion, respect, and feeding each other well.
That, to me, is food justice.
Thank you for working for it with me.