My Dear Friends:
It’s September redux, because we are sending out two newsletters this month, in lieu of our monthly public policy call. We also invite you to the weekly GOAT calls (just email firstname.lastname@example.org ), to learn the latest on federal public policy and what groups from around the state, across the country, and those based in D.C. have to report.
Joann Lo of the Food Chain Workers Alliance will present at our October Public Policy Call, so mark your calendars for 9:00 am, October 24th.
But today in a meeting with Lorette Picciano and the Rural Coalition to prepare for the GOAT conference call, we confirmed that so far, there are no surprises with regard to the Farm Bill and/or extensions, or other (now) emergency legislation.
So, what does Congressional inaction mean for our communities? And, just what can we/you do about it?
I am writing this message from the road—en route from Charleston, S.C., to Atlanta, GA. If you are reading this when it is published in our newsletter, Congress has recessed until after the November elections and the federal fiscal year ends in just five days.
CFJC is in the south to meet with potential funders and to explore new partnerships because California communities cannot create a more equitable food system alone.
Equally important and apart from our formal meetings, we take every opportunity to talk with local residents.
And what we are hearing in the south is not so different from what we hear in Stockton, Los Angeles, San Diego and Oakland. Also, not so different from conversations we had last month on the island of Kaua’i.
If individuals and communities across the country are having similar issue with the use of public lands for food production; with legislative bodies that seem beholden to rigid ideology, large conglomerate interests and business as usual; and the voice of people and communities seem largely absent from state houses and Congress; then is it not time for all of us to step up and be counted?
What were those haunting and powerful words?
“When in the course of human events…”
Certainly, the 2012 elections provide a critical opportunity for all of those registered to vote.
But I submit that voting is only the beginning of our collective work.
Hundreds of millions and even billions of dollars are being spent this electoral season and that is just a plain waste of resources.
Imagine if those resources were applied to productive endeavors, perhaps to create jobs, educate our children, fund farm to school programs—you get the idea.
We think enough is enough. We absolutely do not have to believe the lies we hear on the airwaves, over and over again, as if by repetition alone they will become true.
Somewhere along the way, as individuals we have forgotten to assert our values, to use our own internal moral compass. Remember the words we all learned in grade school. “To create a more perfect union…”
In this time of heightened awareness, political demagoguery and posturing, we would do well to remember that this Congress left undone the business of their legislative mandate.
No budget; no farm bill; no leadership.
Let’s make sure whoever wins the next round of Congressional musical chairs remembers that we are watching, and that we are holding them all accountable. Which also goes for our local and state officials.
At CFJC we have made it our business to connect the dots, not only from local and community food initiatives and programs to federal policy. We also are connecting the dots of the inter-related issues of the economy, climate change, and social justice.
Along with our food system, we think those are the core issues of our time.
How we respond will determine if we too, are the “greatest generation” that stepped up in a time of crisis.
We need to make noise. We need to be heard. We need to assert our collective values.
We need to make this election the beginning of what we want and demand our country to be; from local school board elections and initiatives, to the president of the United State.
We need to let our leaders know that there is an unrest that will not go unheeded just because the elections are over.
No doubt, if you are reading this you already have strong feelings about food and food systems, and what needs to be fixed. You also know that any real solutions require that we address the inter-related issues of climate change, our economic crisis, social injustice and more. All of it—we have to address an entire system that is not working, as demonstrated by the absurd actions and in-actions of our leaders and would-be leaders.
But at the individual level, the problems of people and communities are all too familiar, and it would easy to get discouraged.
Thankfully, we don’t have to despair.
Remember, you are not alone.
The CFJC theory of change is that real systemic change begins with the individual; who sees others making individual change; who believe that collective change is possible; who by their actions determine change in their communities.
That is where we are at, now.
Please share with others, what you are doing to change the world in your corner of the planet. At the very least, send an email to CFJC and we will collect the stories of unsung heroes who are the vanguard of a new kind of movement.
Again, you also can stay informed by linking to one of the organizational websites highlighted throughout this newsletter, or by visiting the CFJC website.
We want to acknowledge and thank you for your personal commitment to the health and well-being of our families and our communities.
Thank you for caring.
And by all means yes, if you are able, please consider making a contribution to help CFJC continue working on your behalf.
All the best.
Y. Armando Nieto, Executive Director