Drum roll please … badadadadadadadadadadadadadada … After an almost 2 1/2 month hiatus we have returned to blogging! I know what everyone is thinking – “Thank goodness! We have been waiting with bated breath for your next post!” Well lets not keep you waiting any longer.
We are keeping ourselves pretty busy at the Town Creek Foundation. I cannot believe we are already halfway through July!
A few weeks ago I attended the Sustainable Agriculture and Food System Funders‘ 11th Annual Forum: Rethinking Risk and Resilience in Providence, Rhode Island. It was an incredible experience and well worth putting on my big girl pants and getting over my fear of flying (which I had not done since 5th grade, let alone, by myself). I now consider myself a world traveler…or more like a state traveler…and navigated BWI like a champ. I’m pretty sure I annoyed the TSA agent with all my questions, but in my defense, I just wanted to make sure I did everything properly.
Okay back to the conference …
The conference was packed with three days of thought provoking plenaries and informative workshops focused on various aspects of food system work. It was a valuable opportunity to learn what other funders, from across the country, support on food (e.g. healthy food in schools; market based approaches; farmer education and organizing; policy reform).
Though no two funders’ goals were identical, they were built on the common recognition of the need for a transformed food system that breaks from the industrial and creates a space for local, sustainable food economies to thrive.
I left the conference with a long list of thoughts and valuable insights. I thought one in particular, on re-industrialization, was especially valuable to be mindful of as we continue down the path of food system reform. We want to break away from our unsustainable industrial food system, but how do we do that without re-industrializing? With 313 million people in this country, I can imagine that it would be very easy to fall into a path of re-industrialization. The speaker, who highlighted this point, characterized our current food system as depersonalized and distant and looked to relationships and networks as the key to avoid re-industrializing the system.
The concept of unintentional re-industrialization was one of many light-bulb moments for me at the conference. I had not thought re-industrialization was a possible outcome of our focus on food system reform, but it makes complete sense. Duh, Megan. Maryland food system reform work is still in the early stages, but I think the issue of re-industrialization has real potential for us today. If we are not mindful of the potential for re-industrializing, as we develop a collective strategy, our work could fall short of really moving away from our present day food system. Just a thought.