After five hours of listening to the issues surrounding campaigns for meatless mondays, shaping a new food system, solving the food crisis by eating crickets, converting food leftovers to usable food, justice for food workers, and even the role of art in the food movement: Tom Colicchio asked the question: Is there a Food Movement? what the f__k?
Tom was right. His point: organizing, collaborating, raising money is all good stuff, but if you look at the issue globally these efforts need to invade the political realm. Colicchio was talking about transforming the food movement into an active political movement in order to bring about changes that can be felt by the 45 million people on SNAP (food stamps) whose benefits have just been cut in half. This was radical talk, even for the audience at the TEDxManhattan event: Changing the Way We Eat.
Anyone who is interested in listening to the speakers who populated TEDxManhattan conference on Saturday, March 1 can go to the TEDxManhattan site and listen. I want to focus on a couple of people who presented their work, who are not directly involved in the food movement.
The above photo is a work of art by San Van Aken. It is called the Tree of 40 Fruits. Van Aken grafted antique and heirloom stone fruits onto one tree creating the above “freak of nature”. He calls it sculpting a tree. Van Aken has an diagram of all the branches of the tree indicating which fruit is produced on each branch. Is is the melding of technology and art? I wasn’t sure if the ability to fabricate the fruit of 40 fruits was horticultural alchemy or an agricultural nightmare.
Clint Smith is a 26-year old slam poet, who teaches English in Washington DC. He recited his poem, “Place Matters” Here are few lines from that poem.
“She wants nothing more than to go outside and play at the park after school,
but gun violence has made a merry-go-round feel more like Russian Roulette…
These are my students,
Fighting a battle against an enemy they cannot clearly see…”
Smith deep belief in his students and their ultimate resilience: “let’s not think of quicksand, let’s focus on what has refused to be drowned.”
After all the talk, sincere intentions, horrifying facts about industrial agriculture, invective to collaborate and empower, urging the audience to see the WE in I ME YOU and US. The day after the conference, what sticks with me: “They are roses that grew from the concrete…” Clint Smith from Place Matters