September Change Up– ED Letter September, Part I

10 September 2012

blog, ED Letter

My Dear Friends:

All of a sudden it feels that despite the heat, summer is over, and politics and food policy has kicked into high gear.

In response, CFJC will forego our monthly public policy call, and instead issue two e-newsletters and co-host a press conference in D.C. along with GOAT partners the Rural Coalition and Color of Change on Thursday, September 13th.

But if you can’t make it to D.C. for the press conference, you can read our newsletters, and join the weekly GOAT (Getting Our Act Together) conference calls by contacting Jessy in our office at

In the meantime I want to share what I learned (see the podcast) from our August 25th Vallejo community event that featured Kelly Carlisle, David Hilliard, Eric Holt-Giménez, Rita LeRoy, and Dr. Stan Oden, and a couple of other recent activities.

I had the honor of moderating the Vallejo conversation—and it was a conversation as opposed to the typical panel of “talking heads.”

A goal of the discussion was to share lessons learned across generations and geography, specifically from the original Black Panther Party platform for survival pending transformation and the Campesino movement of the global south, to Vallejo’s Loma Vista Farm and Oakland’s Acta Non Verba: Youth Urban Farm Project.

The living room setting was carefully re-created in the Empress Theatre to facilitate a discussion of what lessons we can learn from the 60’s food program, when young black men and women created what was to become the model for today’s Head Start food programs. What I learned is that without government support, or a foundation grant, or even anyone’s permission, community members (the Black Panther Party) took the initiative to take care of their own.

Dr. Holt-Giménez also shared about conversations in which he’s participated around the world that are not so dissimilar from that of Vallejo on the 25th.

I think some of us at times feel that we are alone in trying to effect the kind of change that will put healthy food in the mouths of our children; nourish our community well-being instead of corporate coffers; and support young entrepreneurs creating the foundation of a new and better/equitable food system.

Events like that in Vallejo can begin the conversations we need to continue to remember how to rebuild our economies, food system, and communities on the values we seem to have lost track of, since unmitigated greed became the socially acceptable motivation for work.

You’ll read elsewhere in this newsletter where we were invited to Kaua’i to meet with local natives, activists, and community residents to discuss a variety of issues that actually were not so very different from those of mainland communities:

  • Control of water, for drinking and growing food
  • Building local economic engines
  • Protecting local lands and the environment
  • Maintaining ownership and local control of public lands and food production

Clearly there is so much work to be done, not the least of which is for CFJC staff to listen and learn about the distinct differences in communities in California and across the country.

However, we can also share immediately that although there are rich traditions and distinctions in communities, there is ever so much more that we all have in common.

This then is the great secret.

We are not alone.

In communities great and small, near and far, people are watching politicians struggle with a system that has been systematically perverted to serve the needs of corporations, and not individual people and communities.

You are not alone if you think this is an unacceptable form of governance.

It has taken decades to enact laws and public policy that support the current unhealthy environment where a major presidential candidate can state, with a straight face, that “corporations are people, my friend.”

You are not alone if you think this is crazy.

Because in living rooms, outdoor gatherings, community meetings, and coffee shops across the nation, your neighbors are having the conversations, and beginning to believe that there has to be a better way to live. We remember who we are, and what we can be as a country, and as a people.

You are not alone.

CFJC staff and member organizations are part of the conversation, and ready, willing and able to move forward with you. We are actively engaged in activities that support the rebuilding of communities and a food system that is equitable and just.

The next couple of months are likely to be as eventful as any I have seen since the tumultuous days of the 60’s and 70’s.

Are you ready?

Remember, you are not alone.

Once again, you can stay informed by linking to one of the organizational websites highlighted in this message, or by visiting the CFJC website.

You should also be in contact with your Senator or Representative’s office for updates, and to let them know that you are paying attention.

At CFJC, we want to thank you for your personal commitment to the health and well-being of our families. Thank you for caring, and for taking the time to make an effort.

And by all means yes, if you are able, please consider making a contribution to help CFJC continue working on your behalf.


All the best,



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CFJC promotes the basic human right to healthy food while advancing social, agricultural, environmental and economic justice. Through advocacy, organizing and education, we collaborate with community-based efforts to create a sustainable food supply. We envision a food system in which all activities, from farm to table, are equitable, healthful, regenerative and community-driven.

If you believe in these principles JOIN CFJC NOW.

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