Tuesday, April 20, 2010
There was an article in the Stanford Daily a day or two ago about Stanford Glean, a really amazing group of fruit pickers that was initially organized by a friend, fellow Free Farmer, Stanford professor, and totally amazing guy, Page Chamberlain, and has really taken off to the point where it is largely student driven at this point. From what I understand, the task was to form a project as an act of civil disobedience, and thus Stanford Glean was born. This semester they are bucking the system by guerilla gardening on campus. It would be quite an understatement to say that I am impressed and inspired by the work that they're doing and the way that they are thinking about it.
I've been asking myself a lot of questions lately about why do this work, what are the benefits of challenging such monolithic problems with such grassroots efforts, what are the pressure points that can open a channel of progress, what do these intangible phrases that we keep using to describe our work, like "food justice" and "systemic change" actually look like? I think more and more that the answers are just in the asking of the questions, that if we keep asking, we will create change by understanding the small steps we take and how those do steadily move us forward as long as we keep at it.
I have always thought of the gleaning and gardening work that Produce to the People does as an act of resistance, resistance against an industrialized, consumptive, unethical, unsustainable (I could go on....) food system, resistance against the crippling lack of consideration for the needs of poor and homeless people, people struggling with disabilities, mental illness and addiction, and an economic system that holds people in a constant state of struggle, resistance against the breakdown of connection by socio-economic status, age, and cultural background, resistance against people living in isolation.
It's a small, subtle, community and home-based resistance, but that is how I see the dismantling of these larger systems that we have created that don't actually care for us or tend to our needs as real cities made of real communities of real people. Individual people, embracing what they love, what they feel capable of, what they feel confident in, and sharing their capabilities as a resource.
Just some thoughts, and I'll leave you with a quote from Margaret Mead:
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
Yes, that's a heart-shaped potato from the Julian Pantry