The People’s Food Justice Summit convened food justice leaders, healers, defenders, and cultivators to break through sector divides and have a real discussion about how we can work more effectively together to take back our food system. The Summit was unique in that it was an open, collaborative process that grew organically. It was a grassroots convening of a diverse group of individuals. With representation from the Bay Area, Southern California, and Washington DC, the Summit demonstrated the power we have when we come together. Many committed their time and resources to make the Summit free and open to the public, and all who attended have committed to continuing the discussion and working together to take collective action.
In November, 2011 the Community Food and Justice Coalition and Food First launched a year-long joint call to action: Taking Back Our Food System (TBOFS). The call to action developed out of recognition that in order to build an equitable, sustainable, and healthy food system that works for people, there must be a grassroots movement that builds community ownership and control. Over the past year we’ve learned that, across the country, those working in food justice and the food system are having siloed conversations about the issues and injustices in our food system. The Summit worked to bring these conversations together and provide a safe space where individuals held honest communication about ways to collaborate and build the movement.
Attendees came as individuals, and as representatives of their organizations and communities. Together we discussed what is missing and what needs to be done collaboratively if our work is to make a real impact. There was a strong consensus for next steps following the Summit, where attendees aligned to develop six breakout groups: Resources, Relationships, Culture Shift, Practical Solutions, Governance, and Policy Change. Guided by the discussion throughout the day, each group established several ideas for collaboration. A sample is listed below:
- Two-day youth summit: youth-focused organizations will convene for training, education, and relationship building; including refining the Youth Food Bill of Right;
- Regional collaboration: i.e. developing regional food policy calls among food policy councils and other organizations working on policy initiatives;
- Developing Urban Farmer Field Schools: farmers and those working in agriculture build political power by working together and sharing best practices, experiences, concerns;
- Leverage resources: share information and work collectively to securing funding;
- Shared Campaign: something all can identify with, participate in and support;
- “Branding” the movement: doing so in a way that is mindful and cultivates a culture in which everyone can thrive;
- Continue to build strong personal relationships with each other: hold convenings where we can bring our personal selves into the space, not only your organization, i.e. garden work days, happy hour, story sharing.
We hope this is the first in a series of convenings where we can write our own narrative as a movement and collectively move forward.
Photos courtesy of Anna Clark Smith and Gerardo Marin