In our first post, we featured Connecticut's Working Lands Alliance and the National Farm to School Network. Today we profile the Sustainable Food Center, headquartered in Austin, Texas, and the W. K. Kellogg Foundation's Food and Community Program.
The Sustainable Food Center's mission is to cultivate a healthy community in Austin, Texas, by strengthening the local food system and improving access to nutritious, affordable food. SFC envisions a food secure community where all children and adults grow, share and prepare healthy, local food. Through organic food gardening, relationships with area farmers, interactive cooking classes and nutrition education, children and adults have increased access to locally grown food and are empowered to improve the long-term health of Central Texans and our environment.
The SFC's major projects include the Grow Local program, which provides education to increase proficiency in food gardening, and aid in the establishment and long-term sustainability of community and school gardens; the Happy Kitchen, a cooking and nutrition education program; and Farm Direct, which runs the Austin Farmers Market and connects local growers with institutional consumers.
In December, the Happy Kitchen will hold a facilitator appreciation banquet at a local library. And SFC will benefit from a CharityBash fundraiser for young professionals on December 8th.
The W. K. Kellogg Foundation's Food and Community Program is focused on creating healthy places where all children thrive. The program includes efforts to improve school food, aid community-led initiatives to increase access to good food and opportunities for physical activity, and works to build movements to promote healthy eating and active living.
Among the many programs supported by the foundation is Double Up Food Bucks, a Detroit-based group which helps families receiving food assistance benefits purchase more fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers’ markets. This brings benefit to both the families and to the local farmers selling the fresh fruits and vegetables. Watch a video here or at YouTube to find out more about the program.
Today we profile two groups of "Food Rebels": the Working Lands Alliance and the National Farm to School Network.
Working Lands Alliance at their "No Farms, No Food" rally at the Connecticut State Capitol in spring 2009.
The Working Lands Alliance was formed in 1999 with the sole purpose of preserving Connecticut’s most precious natural resource – its farmland. WLA is a coalition whose supporters include more than 600 individuals and 200 businesses and organizations that include farmers, conservationists, anti-hunger groups, planners and local food enthusiasts. This coalition has joined together in an effort to halt the loss of Connecticut’s remaining farmland.
This week, the Working Lands Alliance and the CT Trustees of the Eastern States Exposition announced the winners of the 2010 Farmland Preservation Pathfinder Awards. The town of Pomfret, a community of 4,100 residents, won the Pathfinder Group Award for their preservation efforts, including a bonding resolution of $4 million for land preservation and a one-time preservation of 17 parcels totaling over 700 acres in 2009 (unprecedented in the State of Connecticut). WNPR radio host Faith Middleton is the winner of the Pathfinder Individual Award for outstanding achievement in advancing farmland preservation in the State of Connecticut. And for their determination and success in restoring an agricultural asset to their community and founding a community farm that features educational programs about farming, raises vegetables for a CSA, and makes weekly donations of product to local families in need, the Woodbridge Conservation Commission & the Board of Directors of Massaro Community Farm is the winner of the Pathfinder Education Leader Award for significant contributions in the area of educating the public about the importance of farmland preservation.
The National Farm to School Network increases access to local food and nutrition education to improve children's health, strengthen family farms, and cultivate vibrant communities. Founded in 2007, the National Farm to School Network provides training and technical assistance, information services, networking, support for policy advocacy, and media and marketing activities in all 50 states with national staff and eight Regional Lead Agencies. The National Farm to School Network envisions a nation in which Farm to School programs are an essential component of strong and just local and regional food systems, ensuring the health of all school children, farms, environment, economy and communities.
Photo by Emily Hart Roth
In May 2010, the White House Childhood Obesity Taskforce Report recommended both Farm to School and school gardens as a community based solution to childhood obesity. Specifically, recommendation 3.6 of this report states: "USDA should work to connect school meal programs to local growers and use farm to school programs, where possible, to incorporate fresher, appealing food in school meals." Michelle Obama’s Let's Move campaign website also specifically promotes community gardens, school gardens and Farm to School programs.
Farm to School is involved with Root 4 Kids, a campaign from Annie’s that calls on parents and teachers nationwide to help one million kids dig and plant new veggies harvest 2010 through harvest 2011. Annie’s will award the school with the most people who join Root 4 Kids by December 31, 2010, with their choice of a garden, a new Farm to School program or gardening supplies for one year. In addition, for every 1,000 people who join, Annie’s will contribute funds toward a garden or Farm to School program in an underprivileged school.
Eid al Adha began yesterday, marking the end of the annual Hajj, or pilgrimage, to Mecca. In this excerpt from Eboo Patel's acclaimed memoir, Acts of Faith, Patel shares a story of pilgrimage, cultural and religious diversity, and compromise from the life of the Prophet.
We humans know violence well. It is a part of each of us. It is precisely the reason I was drawn to religion in the first place. Somehow, the religious people I admired overcame the human desire to hurt others. Tibetan Buddhist masters talked about their struggle to love their Chinese tormentors. Mahatma Gandhi spent his time in a South African prison making sandals for his jailer. Pope John Paul II met with the man who tried to assassinate him, and forgave him.
Dorothy Day once said that she created the Catholic Worker because she wanted a place where people could be better. It was one ofthe key reasons I spent so much time there as a college student. I wanted to overcome those parts of me that would tackle somebody from behind. I wanted to be good.
It was in Islam that I found the clearest articulation of this inner struggle. The story goes like this: As a victorious Muslim army was celebrating its triumph in battle, the Prophet Muhammad told the men they had won only the “lesser jihad.” Now, he said, they had to mov eon to the “greater jihad”—the jihad al-nafs, the struggle against their lower selves. The first time I read that, I felt as if the Prophet was speaking directly to me, as if he could see the thousands of times in my life that my lower self had won, as if he was personally returning Islam to my consciousness.
There is another event in the history of Islam that, for me, defines the religious spirit in the world, and the meaning of lasting victory. It is the signing of the Treaty of Hudaybiyah and the Prophet’s peaceful return to Mecca. After years of defending himself and his fellow Muslims in Medina against aggressive military assaults by the Quraysh, a powerful tribe based in Mecca, Muhammad decided to launch a religious peace offensive. In the year 628, he announced to the Muslim community in Medina that he was going to make a holy pilgrimage to the Ka’aba, the black shrine in Mecca that Abraham built to God. Against the advice of his closest companions, who were convinced that the Quraysh would take this chance to murder him, Muhammad refused to carry arms. He set forth dressed in the simple, white, two-piece outfit still worn by Muslims making the hajj today, uttering the cry “Labbayk Allahuma Labbayk” (Here I am, O God, at Your service). A thousand Muslims accompanied him, many questioning the wisdom of making a religious pilgrimage in the direction of an enemy that wanted war.
The Quraysh sent a war party of two hundred cavalry to prevent Muhammad from entering the city. The Prophet steered his companions toward Hudaybiyah, at the edge of the Sanctuary, where all fighting was forbidden, sending a message to the Quraysh that he came in peace. He reminded his companions that they were on a religious quest and as such should prepare to repent and ask God’s forgiveness for their sins. No doubt some of them were confused about why Muhammad was making spiritual preparations instead of war preparations. But Muhammad, guided by revelations from God, knew that ultimate victory for Islam did not mean violently defeating the enemy, but peacefully reconciling with them. Achieving this required an act of personal humility and self-effacement that shocked even his closest companions.
After being convinced that Muhammad was not going to engage them in battle, the Quraysh sent Suhayl, one of their most stridently anti-Muslim leaders, to negotiate a settlement. The two sat togetherfor a long time, finally agreeing to terms that the Muslims felt were deeply unfair but that Muhammad insisted they accept. The Muslims would be allowed to do the holy pilgrimage in peace, but not now. They would have to go back to Medina and wait a whole year before returning. Also, the Muslims would have to repatriate any Meccan who had converted to Islam and immigrated to Medina to be with the Prophet without the permission of his guardian. One source writes that the Prophet’s companions “felt depressed almost to the point of death” when they saw the settlement. Umar, one of the Prophet’s closest associates, said, “Why should we agree to what is demeaning to our religion?” But the greatest shock was still to come.
When it came time to sign the treaty, Suhayl objected to the statement,“This is what Muhammad, the apostle of God, has agreed with Suhayl ibn Amr.” He said that if he recognized Muhammad as the apostle of God, they would not be in a situation of war to begin with. “Write down your own name and the name of your father,” Suhayl instructed the Prophet. To the utter despair of his companions, Muhammad agreed. He told Ali, his son-in-law who would later become the first Shia Imam, to strike the words “apostle of God” from the treaty. Ali could not bring himself to do it. So the illiterate Prophet asked Ali to point to the words on the paper, took the pen, and struck them himself.
On the journey home to Medina, with the bitter taste of humiliation still fresh in the mouths of his companions, the Prophet received a revelation that would come to be known as the Victory Sura, chapter 48 in the Holy Qur’an. In it, God told the Prophet, “Surely We have given thee / a manifest victory.” The sura states that God Himself was involved in the situation: “It is He who sent down the sakina/ into the hearts of the believers, that / they might add faith to their faith.” The Arabic term sakina loosely translates as “the peace, tranquillity,and presence of God” and is thought to be related to the Hebrew term shekinah. The sura closes with the following lines: “God has promised / those of them who believe in and do deeds / of righteousness, forgiveness and / a mighty wage.”
The following year, as promised, Muhammad returned with nearly three thousand pilgrims to perform the pilgrimage. His enemies, holding up their end of the bargain, vacated the city and watched the Muslims do the ritual circumambulations around the Ka’aba and run seven times between the hills of Safa and Marwah. They were shocked to see Bilal, a black Abyssinian who had been a slave in Mecca before being freed by the Muslims, climbing to the top of the Ka’aba several times a day to give the call to prayer, a position of honor in Islam. Muhammad heard that a woman had recently been widowed and offered to marry her, thus taking her into his protection. He invited his Quraysh enemies to the wedding feast. They refused and told him his three days were up. The Muslims left with the same discipline and grace with which they had entered. It was a powerful image that many Quraysh would not soon forget.
When Muhammad returned to Mecca a year later, those who had taken up arms against him converted to Islam in droves. Muhammad granted a near total amnesty to the Quraysh, despite the fact that many had fought battles against him in the past and regardless of whether they converted to Islam or not. To the surprise of some of his companions, he even gave high office to some of the people who, a short time before, had been his sworn enemies. But Muhammad was not interested in punishment. He was interested in a positive future,and he knew that would be accomplished only by widening the space so that people could enter it.
During this time, God sent Muhammad a revelation about relations between different communities in a diverse society:
O mankind, We have created you male and female, and appointed you races and tribes, that you may know one another. Surely the noblest among you in the sight of God is the most righteous.
For me, the Treaty of Hudaybiyah and the peaceful return of Muhammad to Mecca are the defining moments of Islam. They exemplify the genius of the Prophet, the generosity of God, and the bright possibility of a common life together. It is an ancient example of how a religiously inspired peace movement can win a victory not by defeating the enemy, but by turning them into friends.
As I think now of the civil rights marchers in Selma and Birmingham, Alabama, I cannot help but hear the message of “Labbayk AllahumaLabbayk” in their songs. I cannot help but see the Prophet at Hudaybiyah as I reflect on Martin Luther King Jr. staring at his bombed-out home in Montgomery, Alabama, and calming the agitated crowd by saying, “We must meet hate with love.” I cannot help but glimpse the spirit of the Holy Qur’an’s message on pluralism in the lines that King uttered at the end of the Montgomery bus boycott: “We have before us the glorious opportunity to inject a new dimension of love into the veins of our civilization . . . The end is reconciliation,the end is redemption, the end is the creation of the beloved community.” I cannot help but believe that Allah’s sakina is a force that has reappeared across time and place whenever righteous people are overcoming the tribal urges of humanity’s lower self with a message of transcendence.
Matt Kailey is the author of Just Add Hormones: An Insider's Guide to the Transsexual Experience, a Lambda Literary Award finalist. He is also a nationally recognized speaker, trainer, and writer dealing with transgender issues. He can be reached through his website and blog at www.tranifesto.com.
I'm not sure what people thought would happen when Allums played basketball as a man, but his playing ability has likely not changed. He has already said that he would not start hormones as long as he is on the team, due to concerns that testosterone might disqualify him from play by giving the team an unfair advantage.
Of course, I doubt that they have tested the testosterone levels of the women on the team, and, as we discovered when South African athlete Caster Semenya was dragged through the mud simply for being a superior runner, testosterone levels vary tremendously from woman to woman – as they do from man to man.
The subject of trans athletes is nothing new. Renee Richards broke ground in 1977 when the New York Supreme Court ruled that she had the right to play professional tennis as a woman after transitioning from male to female. But the controversy over who can play what sport remains ongoing.
During the Civil War, the Press of the American Unitarian Association—the fledging publishing house founded in 1854 that grew into Beacon Press—published a tract called A Soldier's Companion.
This handy booklet, intended to supply Union soldiers with solace and inspiration, included hymns, anthems, poems, and practical instructions. Some 57,000 were distributed, free of charge, during the course of the war.
Amid songs and hymns about freedom and temperance were allusions linking the American Revolution—the patriotic fight for independence from England—with freedom for all mankind. References to abolition and the dreaded fugitive slave laws were scattered throughout the booklet. The poem “Wipe out, O God! The Nation’s Sin,” for example, warned, “There is no liberty for them / Who make their brethren slave.” Songs like “Arouse, New England Sons” invoked,“Free! While the very homes you’ve made / Beside your fathers’ graves/ Are pillaged, if ye dare to aid / The panting, flying slave?” Luminaries such as Harriet Beecher Stowe altered classics to fit the cause; her lyrics to “America, the Beautiful” included the lines “Let Freedom’s banner wave / Till there be not a slave.” A Soldier’s Companion also contained practical advice to men in the field. Soldiers were warned, for example, to “sleep as much as you can,” avoid “all use of ardent spirits,” and “wear flannel all over in all weathers.” (From A Brief History of Beacon Press by Susan Wilson.)
In the years since, many Beacon Press books have examined the issues faced by soldiers at war and upon their return home.
During the course of the war in Iraq, many veterans have become increasingly disillusioned, and increasingly vocal. Many began seeing the war as damaging for the country, and especially for the men and women fighting overseas. In My River Home, Marcus Eriksen, a veteran of the Gulf War, charts his personal shift from proud Marine to self-destructive veteran to engaged activist protesting the injustices of the Iraq War with Veterans for Peace. Eriksen made sense of this transition only after a fascinating adventure traveling through the heart of America, down the entire length of the great Mississippi River on a homemade raft.
More American women have fought and died in Iraq than in any war since World War Two, yet as soldiers they are still painfully alone. In Iraq, only one in ten troops is a woman, and she often serves in a unit with few other women or none at all. This isolation, along with the military's deep-seated hostility toward women, causes problems that many female soldiers find as hard to cope with as war itself: degradation, sexual persecution by their comrades, and loneliness, instead of the camaraderie that every soldier depends on for comfort and survival. As one female soldier said, "I ended up waging my own war against an enemy dressed in the same uniform as mine."
In The Lonely Soldier, Benedict tells the stories of five women who fought in Iraq between 2003 and 2006. She follows them from their childhoods to their enlistments, then takes them through their training, to war and home again, all the while setting the war's events in context.
Berkeley peace activist Sophia Raday never imagined she would fall in love with an Oakland police officer and major in the Army Reserve, much less marry one. Barrett is loving and loyal, but in his world a threat lies around every corner, and so he asks Sophia to stay in Condition Yellow—always aware that her life may be in danger soon. Sophia's heart-wrenching yet humorous narrative about coming to a new understanding of peace and partnership gives hope for healing the deep divisions in our country, from the front lines of a most unusual union.
As the planes hit the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, Aidan Delgado was in the process of enlisting in the U.S. Army Reserve. Two years later, he arrived in Iraq with the 320th Military Police Company. As he witnessed firsthand the brutality of the occupation and the abuse of unarmed Iraqis, Delgado came to believe that war was immoral and ran counter to his Buddhist principles. He turned in his weapon and began the long process of securing conscientious objector status. His book is urgent reading for anyone who cares about American ideals overseas, and for all those who understand why peace is patriotic.
In the early 1970s, Penny Coleman married Daniel, a young Vietnam veteran and fellow photographer. Soon, Daniel became deeply troubled, falling victim to multiple addictions and becoming strangely insecure. He suffered from what we now call posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). After Coleman left him, he committed suicide.
Struggling to understand Daniel's experience, Coleman began investigating the history of PTSD; she found clear cases of the disorder as far back as the Civil War. In Flashback, Coleman deftly weaves psychology and military, political, oral, and cultural history to trace the experience of PTSD in the military up through the Vietnam War. She then focuses on Vietnam to show why this war in particular led to such a high number of PTSD cases, many of which ended tragically in suicide. Like the soldiers listed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall, these men are casualties of war.
With record numbers of American soldiers returning from the Middle East already suffering from PTSD, Flashback provides a necessary lesson on the real tragedy of battle for soldiers and their families, something that continues long after the war ends.
Focusing on 18 pivotal speeches from the campaign -- from then-Illinois State Senator Barack Obama's October 2002 speech against the Iraq war resolution to his November 2008 election night victory speech -- Berry and Gottheimer put each speech in the context of Obama's ultimate journey toward the presidency, while also revealing details about the behind-the-scenes thought and preparation that went into each.
Along the way the authors emphasize two fundamental -- and ultimately interconnected -- values that have motivated Obama throughout his public career and that we have seen at play during his first term as president.
The first is his abiding belief that governing is most effective when we transcend the discord and partisanship of "politics as usual" to reach a bipartisan unity of purpose and new way of approaching our nation's challenges. The second is his fundamental belief in the power of government to help us solve problems and meet challenges that we cannot deal with on our own.
Although, as the authors note, this view of government takes its most expansive form in Obama's "The American Promise" speech accepting the Democratic nomination for president in Denver in August, 2008, you can see the roots of his thinking all the way back to the Knox College commencement address he delivered in June 2005, barely six months after being sworn in as the junior senator from Illinois:
How does America find our way in this new, global economy? What will our place in history be?
Baker goes on to look at how the tension between the parties since the election has hampered Obama's vision of America's place int he world.
Once President, though, he was confronted by a quartet of challenges: (1) a Republican party that decided the path to political victory was to double down on partisanship, (2) a mobilized and well-funded Tea Party chorus preaching limited government (except when it comes to one's own government benefits), (3) the Fox-Beck-Limbaugh echo chamber that not only preached limited government, but labeled government acting to promote the general welfare as un-American, and (4) an effective corporate lobby that was able to turn mainstream, private-sector oriented health insurance reform into government sponsored death panels.
Faced with this barrage, President Obama and his allies have not been able to sell the American people on the bedrock principle that government is a force for good in our country.
That sale can be made.
In Power in Words, Berry and Gottheimer add a rich introduction for each speech that includes political analysis, provides insight and historical context, and features commentary straight from the speechwriters themselves—including Jon Favreau, Obama's chief speechwriter, and several other Obama campaign writers—delivering the behind-the-scenes account of Obama's rhetorical legacy.
Follow the jump for videos of some of the speeches and an excerpt from Power in Words.
In California cities like San Jose, voters this election passed ballot measures to weaken the retirement system for public workers. These are the same kind of measures that have brought workers into the streets of France for weeks in protest.
Beyond the ballot initiatives, the election season of 2010 was filled with rhetoric blaming public workers for the economic woes of cities and states. It's hard to understand, in an era of foreclosures by banks that pay their executives bonuses of millions of dollars, while getting bailouts from the Federal government, why public workers should be held responsible for the current economic crisis. Who contributes more to the welfare of our communities - a teacher or a hedge fund manager?
But perhaps the most important thing to remember is what these workers do. These photographs are meant to inspire some obvious questions. Can people do this work, if they're then cast adrift once they're too old? What would happen to all of us if they didn't do these jobs?
Margaret Regan's The Death of Josseline: Immigration Stories from the Arizona Borderlands has been praised as, "A keen-eyed perspective of how questionable public policy has resulted in far too much preventable loss of life," (Midwest Book Review) and, "A humane, sensitive, and informative perspective on a current and controversial topic" (Ana Castillo, author of The Guardians).
The book has been chosen as this year's Common Read by the Unitarian-Universalist Association, and a reader's guide is available on Beacon.org. Read an excerpt below or at Scribd and get talking about the human stories behind the contentious issue of undocumented immigration.
You can also read these previous posts at Beacon Broadside by author Margaret Regan, or browse all of our posts on immigration.
The struggle between human freedom and authority is eternal and universal. With the advent of industrialism and its widespread application to our food supply (through factory farms, genetic engineering, and reliance on chemicals), that struggle has reached its latest stand-off. Will corporations fear-mongering about the lack of an adequate food supply and their promise of abundance prevail, or will we rise to the challenge of pursuing self-reliance and democratic control of our food system?
While the framing of Winne’s argument draws from great thinkers like Dostoevsky and Emerson, it also moves from philosophy to action, with the stories of myriad “local doers” leading the charge. Covering everything from urban farming in Cleveland, and buffalo restoration on Native American reservations, to food-education classes in diabetes-prone neighborhoods, Winne shows how people are reclaiming their connection to their food and their health. It’s hope is that these types of efforts, scaled up and adopted more widely, will allow the alternative food system to dethrone the industrial.
Food Rebels, Guerilla Gardeners, and Smart-Cookin’ Mamas challenges us to go beyond eating local to become part of a larger solution, demanding a system that sustains body and soul.
For twenty-five years Mark Winne was the executive director of the Hartford Food System in Hartford, Connecticut. He speaks and consults extensively on community food-system topics and is the author of Closing the Food Gap. Winne lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.