Executive Director Column 2/17/15
Over the past three years, as CFJC participated in the GOAT (Getting Our Act Together) process, we learned more about the Pettus Bridge March in Selma, Alabama, from those who were there in 1965, and those who celebrate the “Bloody Sunday” event annually by re-creating the march.
It has been a dream of CFJC staff to go to Alabama to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Selma March, and now it is shaping up to be something extra special as President Obama will speak on Saturday, March 7th, the day before the March 8th re-enactment.
I am asking that you donate now, or pledge what you can to CFJC, specifically to pay for expenses related to our travel and participation in Selma. CFJC will be representing you and the values which sustain us. It is important that we all reaffirm those values. We think this is an excellent place to do so.
And perhaps that representation is especially precious in 2015 as we begin oversight at the national level about proposed and anticipated budget cuts, even as our local communities struggle with the budget cuts and policy enacted by the 113th Congress.
CFJC staff participates in a number of national, regional, and increasingly local collaborations focused on policies that affect how we live, work and relate to one another. In that process we have talked with foundation staff about how best to support the work of those collaborations and especially about how to support the community based organizations that are arguably holding our communities together while the income and wealth gaps increase.
We have in turn been questioned—challenged really—about the model on which the Community Food and Justice Coalition is based. We think that is a fair question.
Moreover, the question caused us to begin discussions internally about what options and opportunities lay ahead.
Since 2010 CFJC has gained a much larger footprint and voice in the food movement, the food justice movement and in social justice movements in the country. We take the related responsibility very seriously. In fact, we are uncompromising with regard to justice because we believe that is what is expected of us, and we conduct ourselves accordingly.
In 2015 that means we have to make sure CFJC is in the best possible position to partner with local organizations, governments and agencies to achieve the change that will demonstrate a new way of doing business, governing, and working together. We think we have made a good start with the All-In Alameda County: A New War on Poverty at the local level, for example. And, along with many others, we are proud of the GOAT process at the national level.
But that just means the stakes are higher, and that we should take time to reflect on who and what CFJC has become over the past five years since I was brought on as executive director to “take the coalition to the next level.”
Well, we have accomplished that…and more.
The CFJC Steering Committee will meet this month to catch up on conversations the CFJC staff have had regarding the particular model the coalition has evolved into over that time.
Some of the highlights of that evolution include:
- 2011 CFSC 15th Annual Food Justice Conference
- 2012 CFJC Food Justice Summit
- GOAT Process Convener
- Rural Coalition/Coalición Rural Member
- Steering Committee Member of:
o National Good Food For All Collaboration
o California State Food Policy Council
o HOPE Collaborative
o Growing Equity from the Ground Up Governance Workgroup
o Berkeley Food Policy Council
o Berkeley Climate Action Coalition
o California Environmental Justice Coalition
- Oakland Food Policy Council
- Oakland Climate Action Coalition Resiliency Committee
- Oakland Climate Action Coalition Edible Parks Task Force
- CFJC Technical Assistance Program
- Mothers Taking Action
- and more . . .
Each of those activities, and many others, reflect relationships with individuals and groups and communities in California and across the country—Amy Little from the NESAWG in New York; John Zippert and the Federation of Southern Cooperatives in Epes, Alabama; Chef Brenda Ruiz in Sacramento; Reverend Daniel Buford with the Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland; Jaime Chavez with the Rural Coalition in Albuquerque, NM; Parke Troutman with the San Diego Hunger Coalition; Sarah Hackney with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition; Kathy Ozer with the National Family Farms Coalition; Diana Abellera at the Community Alliance with Family Farmers; Sigrid Wright with the Community Environmental Council in Santa Barbara; and many more.
The point is that CFJC has developed a niche and provides services that are increasingly in demand to organizations and collaborations across the country.
It seems the nonprofit sector has learned to appreciate CFJC before the world of philanthropy, and it has been rough going these past couple of years. Nonetheless, CFJC continued to provide the same level of services because, like the communities we serve, the need is always there regardless of funding cycles and foundation priorities.
In addition to basic logistical, facilitation, and technical assistance services, CFJC always tries to provide a connection between national policy and the local communities who receive the benefit—or lack thereof—of national, state and local policies on food, climate change and safety net services. We believe that by demystifying public policy, by educating and informing local communities and then providing linkages and connections to the policy makers, we are building a growing network of engaged citizens and residents who will help determine the future of our communities, and of our country.
I don’t know about you, but the onslaught of $5 requests for political campaigns that hit my mailboxes daily seem likely to do more to enrich media consultants and companies than to change the status quo for our families and communities.
And besides, I still find it strange that we are supposed to counter the millions of dollars spent on spurious political ads by conservative billionaires.
Maybe we do need to continue participation in the current partisan political games/campaigns to hold the line in a political climate that seems determined to increase the gap in wealth and income of our families, and health and well-being of the communities in our country.
Even so, at CFJC and in many communities and organizations throughout California and around the country we believe that long term solutions will only come about by the rigorous and continued engagement of community members. And that is what we do—we work with local organizations to connect what the community wants with what policy makers are crafting.
So, back to the Selma request: There have been a number of excellent articles recently on race, power and privilege in the U.S., no doubt inspired by the movie, Selma, by our first African American President, and the civil unrest across the country.
CFJC staff want to represent you, and the values of those freedom riders, bridge marchers, and civil rights champions at the 50th Anniversary of the Selma, Ala Pettus Bridge March. Won’t you please consider making a donation, now, so that we can stand with them this March 8th?
Once again, on behalf of the Steering Committee, staff and everyone at CFJC, thank you for your consideration, for your faith and hope for a better country, and for your work on behalf of us all.
We will continue the work, as well.
All the best.