It is summer in North America and many of us at Berkana are tending to our gardens or experimenting with growing our own food for the first time. As it becomes clearer that issues of food sovereignty and sustainability are central to the work of creating healthy, more self-reliant communities, this is an area of inquiry and practice we are committed to exploring with you, our extended network.
Learning From the Field
“Tasting the Future: New Leadership for Food Systems that Sustain People and the Planet” by Vanessa Reid
This month we share thoughts from longtime Berkana friend and colleague, Vanessa Reid, about an initiative called “Tasting the Future: New Leadership for Food Systems that Sustain the People and the Planet.” Along with Maria Scordialos and Sarah Whiteley of Axladitsa-Avatakia, Vanessa is working in collaboration with the World Wildlife Foundation and others to catalyze a shift in the UK’s food systems. Tasting the Future brings together individuals and initiatives, including members of the Art of Hosting network, to inspire a collective practice of inquiring and learning around food sustainability issues. Vanessa is currently based in Israel. Read this inspiring reflection on her blog: Jerusalem Journals. Download the Tasting the Future Prospectus.
Un Huerto Más (One More Garden)
Last November, Berkana’s North America Feeding Ourselves Sustainably Community of Practice and La Red Autonóma para la Soberanía Alimentaria (Autonomous Network for Food Sovereignty) convened food sovereignty practitioners from across the continent for a four day gathering in Oaxaca called De la Huerta a la Boca. As a result, a group of friends committed to support each other in their efforts to grow their own food. Each month since the beginning of the year they have gathered at the home of a different participant to plant milpa (corn, bean and squash), install irrigation systems, build raised beds and container gardens, make mango jam and clear plots for planting. The initiative is called Un Huerto Más (“One More Garden”). Participants hail from four countries, range in age from 25 to 65 and live in several municipalities in and around Oaxaca. There is no director, no staff, no budget. The group co-created a purpose statement and operating principles and started to dig. Interested in starting your own version of Un Huerto Más? Download their purpose statement and operating principles. View photos of Un Huerto Más sessions on Facebook or write to Aerin Dunford for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Spotlight on Wendy Tsotetsi, friend of The GreenHouse Project and Co-Founder of Youth Agricultural Ambassadors
A young champion for community-based organic farming, Wendy Tsotetsi, has stirred a storm of media and public interest in her work throughout South Africa. Mentored and supported by GreenHouse Project community member Tshediso Phahlane, Wendy has dedicated her energies to engaging youth in growing sustainable food gardens in the Eastern Cape. Since 2008, through Youth Agricultural Ambassadors, she has facilitated over 30 food projects in her own community of Evaton West and currently collaborates with communities throughout Guateng, South Africa. At first a soft-spoken participant at The GreenHouse Project’s Hub for Community-based Organizations, Wendy has blossomed into a powerful food and climate change activist across the region. Read more about Wendy in The Mail & Guardian.
Resources and Events
Fair Food: Growing a Healthy, Sustainable Food System for All
by Oran Hesterman
Oran B. Hesterman has been a leader in the sustainable food movement in the U.S. for over 40 years. He founded the Fair Food Network in 2009 as a way of addressing the profound challenges in redesigning our food system. Earlier this year, he published a new book, Fair Food, which presents a blueprint for transforming food systems and a powerful roadmap for how to get there. Hesterman recently spoke at an event in South L.A. co-sponsored by Eso Won Books and Community Services Unlimited, one of the participating places in the Berkana Exchange. Neelam Sharma, CSU’s director, shares a bit about the event: “I am pleased to say that the Fair Food event attracted over a dozen people from the food movement for whom Eso Won Books was a new venue, as well as drew a number of people who don’t necessarily see the food movement as having any relevance to them. After hearing Oran present why he wrote this book and the role he hopes it will play, a crowd of 40+ engaged him in dialogue about critical questions we are faced with such as the role of genetically modified food and the racial inequities inherent in the food system.” Read more. Buy Fair Food online. Visit fairfoodbook.org.
Southern Africa Youth Learning Exchange Program | South Africa and Zimbabwe | August 13-20
The GreenHouse Project in South Africa and Kufunda Learning Village in Zimbabwe, co-hosts of the Southern Africa Open Places Initiative, are co-creating a Youth Learning Exchange Program for young people this summer. The first leg of the exchange will have 18 youth from Johannesburg and Cape Town join their peers in Kufunda for six days of inquiry and sharing followed by an OASIS Game in the Rusape community. This trans-local exchange is set for August 13-20. For more information, please contact Jackie Cahi (email@example.com). Read more about the Southern Africa Open Places Initiative.
“Comfortable with Uncertainty” with Meg Wheatley | Cape Cod Institute, Greenwich, CT | August 15-19
Our current challenge isn’t the rapid pace of change. It’s uncertainty–not knowing what’s next, what works, or where things are heading. Few of us have been prepared to deal with this level of groundlessness. We learned the skills of certainty: we know how to set goals, create strategies, develop complex plans. We’ve been told that we can make the world work according to plan if we have clear intentions, a strong will and good leadership skills. Now, these very skills create obstacles to our effectiveness. Our task is to learn how to deal with uncertainty, not as a temporary state, but as a condition of life. How do we maintain our clarity, focus and stamina? How do we make a meaningful contribution in the midst of so much chaos and instability? Join Meg Wheatley for a workshop aimed at developing a new set of personal and organizational competencies such as: dealing with strong emotions, getting unstuck, discerning the complexity of interactions; and making it up as we go along. Learn more or register.
Art of Participatory Leadership and Social Change | NYC | September 26-28
Join hosts Chris Corrigan, Tuesday Ryan-Hart, and Kelly McGowan for a gathering aimed at exploring participatory ways of leading, inciting, instigating and co-creating social change. The purpose of this gathering is to bring together people who hold social transformation at the center of their work and lives and who have stories to share and questions to ask. Participants will explore participatory practices and enter deep inquiry together about what is needed now in social justice/equity work. They will look at emerging models that go beyond top-down, charismatic and traditional ways of leading change; learn skills for hosting participatory conversations and decision-making; and practice tools for building sustainable relationships across expertise, causes and movements. Download the invitation here. Register.
Iron Chef Fundraiser To Support Santropol Roulant’s Urban Agriculture Program | McGill University, Montreal | September 1, 5-10pm
Santropol Roulant is a nonprofit organization in the heart of Montreal that uses food as a vehicle to break social and economic isolation between generations and to strengthen and nourish the local community. It is also a participating learning center in the Berkana Exchange. Did you know that over one ton of fresh vegetables was harvested last year from Santropol Roulant’s urban gardens? Each year, a portion of the harvest is used by Santropol Roulant’s meals-on-wheels program, providing fresh and local produce to community members while the rest is sold to the community as subsidized weekly baskets and through local markets. Help support Santropol Roulant as a model for urban sustainability through its urban garden project while encouraging one of the participating restaurants in the Santropol Roulant’s 2nd Annual Iron Chef fundraiser/cookout! All proceeds will go directly to the edible rooftop garden project at Santropol Roulant.
Engaging Community: A Toolkit for Building
Healthy and Resilient Communities
At Berkana, we believe that community is the best resource to get through difficult times. We support the rediscovery of community. This is why we have joined with Neighborhood Centers Inc. of Houston to create this rich and multi-faceted toolkit. It contains a variety of approaches for engaging community: information and processes in a variety of media, in both English and Spanish. We want to make it possible for every community–large or small, defined by geography, ethnicity, beliefs, shared pain or shared opportunity–to know how to engage their members to resolve their current challenges and create the futures they desire.
Whatever the problem, community is the answer.