Monday, November 4, 2019

Gleanings from the US Food Sovereignty Alliance Northeast Assembly

This month I was invited to the US Food Sovereignty Alliance's Northeast Assembly, where courageous and thoughtful people from several different tribes and countries organized around the deep work of reclaiming the rights of workers, women, migrants, and poor people to land access, fair labor, and traditional food ways. I learned about connections between food sovereignty, agroecology, and food-as-medicine, and between current agricultural movements and and their historical framing in the context of colonization and white supremacy. This is heavy and important work that requires open-mindedness, vulnerability, and willingness to speak and listen to personal truth; I was fortunate to be in the company of such an inclusive and dedicated group to engage in this experience.

In small groups, assembly participants conducted a conjunctural analysis of food sovereignty in the Northeast region. This is a new process for me that involves dialogue to identify:
  • structure (economic, political, cultural); 
  • conjuncture (recent shifts in the political and economic character of the region, including points of stability and change regarding power); 
  • appearance (problems as identified by the mainstream including media) vs. essence (the root causes of the issues); 
  • actors (e.g., politicians, churches, industries) that are looking to sustain or transform the current food system; and 
  • correlation of forces (conflict, control, correlation, tension) between actors and what power each has to shape the food system.
The approach is designed to arrive at a strategy for action based on collective understanding of the food system, based on the premise that wrong analysis can lead to wrong action. The question at the heart of the strategy is how to increase the power of organizations and collectives to promote food sovereignty. The answers can be framed in terms of ideological work (education, outreach), grassroots struggles (campaigns, political actions), organizational work, etc.

I am interested to learn how others have used this process in community or larger-scale food systems work. What resources, processes, models, or maps have you used to engage others in it? What have you learned by doing it?

Food systems work and engagement opportunities coming up:

Food Solutions Forum - November 5
The Food Collaborative - "Head" and "Heart" organizational meetings - November 11 & 20
NH Farm to School Beacon Community Gathering - November 12
Hunger & Homelessness Awareness - November 16-24

NH Food Alliance Network Leadership Team Retreat - December 5-6