Wednesday, December 16

NYC Food and Climate Summit

Last Saturday, December 12th, CUFSP spoke at the NYC Food and Climate Summit at NYU, hosted by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, Just Food, and NYU, in a session titled "How to Mobilize around Food and Climate Change." We presented along with other members and leaders from groups such as the Brooklyn Food Coalition, Oxfam Action Corps NYC, Eat Well Guide, Sustainable Flatbush, and the NYU Sustainability Task Force! Here is some more information on the event, my personal growth from attending it, as well as my thoughts for how we can apply this to FSP in the future.

Me, Mara, and Jeff Heehs, organizer of "How to Mobilize on Food and Climate Change," at the Summit

What I gained from this magical day:

I was inspired by all of the initiatives of not only the presenters' groups, but those of the audience as well. I felt so empowered by all of the energy and ambition in all of the people I heard speak and spoke with, particularly Karen Washington (Farmer and Co Founder of La Familia Verde), with her message of encouragement to return "power to the people," and am fully ready to bring not only my personal lifestyle, but that of the Columbia community to the next level of environmental awareness and sustainable living.

I guess what really stuck with me during the discussion in the morning session (the session I presented in and took part in) of "How to Mobilize on Food and Climate Change" were the issues of turning our minority movement into a mainstream cultural trend toward greater environmental advocacy, and how to go about affecting the consciousness of those who are resistant to the movement. I really liked what Kate Croft (Program Coordinator of Eat Well Guide) said about the three approaches to change: top down (policy changes), bottom up (grassroots), and lastly, creating this appealing, "sexy" concept that is simultaneously spread by all of the various organizations that promotes the green movement on a large scale. The biggest things that I took away (in terms of applying what I learned to the Food Sustainability Project) were 1) the need to direct the momentum / energy of grassroots organization towards real, lasting institutional changes, and 2) the need to combat the charge of elitism (which nutritionist and NYU professor Marion Nestle pointed out in the plenary discussion) and make the masses feel welcomed and encouraged to "get on board" with sustainable living and environmental awareness.

To this end, I will be attending (along with Zak Accuardi from Green Umbrella) the Dining Advisory Committee this Friday -- and we hope to speak with Vicki Dunn about instituting a "Real Food" initiative in Columbia's dining halls! This would hopefully include calculating the "realness" of our food using the Real Food Calculator (an initiative of the nationwide movement, "The Real Food Challenge").

Next semester I'm also really excited about some of FSP's other initiatives, such as: -Revving up our worm-composting initiative as well as our outdoor composting,
-Our next medicinal herb planting session (first meeting after break!) and of course...
-Getting ready for Spring 2010 planting at the garden! :)
-Stay tuned for more info on these!

In her article on the event (which is linked to this post), Katherine Gufstoson stated:
NYC Food and Climate Summit, which took place on Saturday, concerned itself with how to encourage public engagement on the role the food system plays in climate change. Organized by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, the organization Just Food and New York University, the summit was aimed at everyone from family farmers and community gardeners to urban designers, civic leaders and elected officials to parents, communities and concerned citizens. Which includes more or less everyone."

Lastly, I want to wish everyone a happy, healthy, and sustainable holiday!

Peace, Love, and Gardens,