Conversations

November 2017 @ wherever we are

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We're hitting pause this month to assess what we've learned so far and contemplate the future of this project.  Stay tuned for our December gathering date and location!

As we discuss our model for coming together and sit with emerging food systems themes, we keep coming back to the word digest.  What does that mean for us?  How do we facilitate experiences together that encourage digestion of ideas alongside a meal?  How do we remain focused squarely on the food, each other, and carrying our conversations from month to month, rather than the documentation and promotion of our time together?  How do we really move this gathering beyond the people we know so it's a reflection of our larger community and not just those who look like us and live near us?

We're inspired by The Civil Conversation Project, from On Being, and their Better Conversations Starter Guide - 

Our young century is awash with questions of meaning, of how we structure our common life, and who we are to each other. It seems we are more divided than ever before – unable to speak across the diferences we must engage to create the world we want for ourselves and our children. 

Yet you and I have it in us to be nourishers of discernment, fermenters of healing. We have the language, the tools, the virtues – and the calling, as human beings  – to create hospitable spaces for taking up the hard questions of our time.

This calling is too important and life-giving to wait for politics or media at their worst  to come around. We can discover how to calm fear and plant the seeds of the robust civil society we desire and that our age demands. 

This is civic work and it is human, spiritual work – in the most expansive 21st century sense of that language. We can learn for our time what moral imagination, social healing, and civil discourse can look like and how they work.  

The Civil Conversations Project is a collection of audio, video, writings, and resources for planting new conversations in families and communities. How do we speak the questions we don’t know how to ask each other? Can we find ways to cross gulfs between us about politics and the meaning of community itself? How to engage our neighbors who have become strangers? Can we do that even while we continue to hold passionate disagreements on deep, contrasting convictions? How is technology playing into all this, and how can we shape it to human purposes?  You will have your own questions – particular to your community and concerns – to add.

Our First Gathering

May 15, 2017 @ the Riveter

The culture of food is as important, if not more important, than the production of food...Because our food system is disconnected.  It operates in silos: vegetables here, animals here, grains somewhere else — each component part separate from the others and unhitched to any kind of culture.”
— Dan Barber, The Third Plate

The invitation was to come explore sustainability and the food system.  Our guiding premise was inspired by a book we'd both recently read, The Third Plate.  Our plan was to show up with a few ideas and minimal structure, then let the project be shaped by those who showed up.  Certainly we wanted to be rooted in a few basic notions -

  • systems thinking - a theory that explores the links among the seemingly unconnected and uses this holistic understanding to re-imagine current systems through elegant and innovative design. This methodology can be used to help organizations and individuals move beyond problem-solving to discover and implement patterning or structures for long-term health and wellbeing.  
  • accessibility - envisioning a healthy food system for land and people as a right for all, rather than a privilege.  
  • diversity - we enter the system where we are, as we are and hope the discussion will only broaden with time to include a variety of voices from across cultures, races, genders, ages, and identities. 
  • collaboration - a work in progress that we all contribute to, taking turns to both lead and listen.

About 15 of us gathered around a table to see what could happen when we asked each other a few questions and shared our ideas. 

We started with a Check-in Question - when were you last on a farm?

The discussion split into two groups to delve into production/consumption (the whys and whats of the system) and culture (optimal conditions for eating and digestion, the importance of community, cuisine).  After a time, the dialogue merged and we took from it a framework for future conversations.

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