My Dear Friends:
Community Food and Justice Coalition staff, like many of you, stayed up late night digesting the end of a long and painful election season. As I write this, President Obama is taking the stage with his family to begin the national healing.
But it is also only the beginning, for each of us.
Yes the election has finally concluded, and we know who will lead the country for the next four years. But as we learned over the course of the first Obama administration and obstructionist Congress, our democracy requires more active participation than just voting once every four years, especially if we want to see an equitable and just food system. We have to work for it.
In preparation thereof, CFJC has been invited to D.C. to strategize on how the election results will affect a stalled Farm Bill 2012 reauthorization process.
Also, CFJC, along with Food First, is preparing for the People’s Food Justice Summit, scheduled for Saturday, December 8th. The idea is for people from the east bay, throughout California, and across the country to regroup in Oakland to see if we can develop and launch a campaign for food justice that aligns with a broad spectrum of individuals, community groups and food justice organizations.
CFJC is also expanding on the climate change work we completed in 2011, even as much of the east coast recovers from the effects of Hurricane Sandy and prepares for the onslaught of another storm.
In this special edition newsletter you will read about what communities have been and are doing in spite of the wake of a protracted media/pundit pounding of electoral politics, and the effects of federal policy that seems to eschew the values of food for people, the commons, and our common weal.
But I want to start the conversation about the kind of election we all just experienced and how it is different from 2008, and what I hope we do now.
I believe this election was about values as much as anything else. To be sure, the challenges of our economy elicit heated debate, and the difference in presentation between the president and challenger were stark enough on the surface to remind me of a high school election—something on the order of the football captain vs. the book club president.
But what we were really choosing was the difference between two philosophies of government, and differences in what we value in the United States.
Our tag line reads, “food for people, not for profit.” Think about it. What if we acted as if the purpose of food was to nourish people, instead of creating profit for corporate interests? And if we had food and farm public policy that prioritized food for people instead of corporate profits, what would our food system look like?
For starters, the $1 trillion Farm Bill would likely not largely favor large corporate farming interests—soy and corn, mostly—instead of fruits and vegetable producers, euphemistically referred to as “specialty crops” in federal legislation.
President Obama’s second term is historic for many reasons, but probably most importantly because this is the time when each of us has a chance to be part of re-creating an economic and food system that best serves the interests of the majority, the 99% of our country men and women, for the benefit of 100% of our people.
In 2011 and much of 2012 the Occupy Movement caught the attention of the world. It was a phenomenon that raised the questions, but seemingly by design left solutions for the collective consciousness of our country. Today, the election seems to indicate that we have a leader with a vision for governing.
I believe this is a time for greatness.
In 2008 the nation celebrated election of our first African-American president. By contrast, in 2012 we celebrate Obamacare and a hope that for a time at least, the same Congress that for two years was the House of “NO,” will work with the president to address the fiscal challenges noted on the graph on the front page of this newsletter—a House budget that eviscerates the social safety net, a stalled Farm Bill, Sequestration, and gross inequities of wealth and earnings.
But that is not greatness. That is the business for which politicians were elected to conduct.
No, greatness must come from the people of our country.
It is up to each and every one of us to stand up and “vote” for the values we want our country to express and embody. In Congress, in our State Houses, in our townships and City Halls, in how we care for one another in our business dealings and in the most local of interactions with one another, each of us is responsible for being the change we want to see.
For too long we have let the culture of greed flourish and modern day carpetbaggers run amok.
It’s time to act the grown up, to make clear every day post-election that the business as usual culture of greed as business has become, is no longer acceptable.
Going forward, I trust the wisdom of the individuals in our homes, in families and in community gatherings. People know what we need to do to heal, to care for one another and to move forward in rebuilding the country we still can become.
Just as our communities along the eastern seaboard continue to struggle from the effects of Hurricane Sandy, and by special order New Jersey residents can still make efforts to vote, so each of us needs to find the fortitude to express our will for a vision of our communities and country that can begin to turn negativity, greed and obstructionism into hope and a new realty of which we can all be proud.
The message is clear. Get active.
For the better part of a year our call to action, Take Back Our Food System, has provided a means for people to begin the process. If you have already joined with us, thank you and congratulations. We look forward to an exciting post election when history will be made every day. For those who want to get involved with our democracy, we invite you to join with a growing number of people who believe that food is the nexus of so many issues we need to address.
Again, today is the first day of work. Breathe deep, and know that you are equal to the challenge. We believe in you.
We want to thank you for your personal commitment to the health and well-being of our communities, and for doing your part in taking back and caring for our communities.
On behalf of the CFJC staff and volunteers, now as the daylight grows shorter and we near the end of the fiscal and calendar year, we also need to ask for your financial assistance.
If you are able, please consider clicking on this link to make a contribution to the Community Food and Justice Coalition, so that we can continue working on your behalf.
Community Food and Justice Coalition