National Network Gathering

Images from National Network Gathering

Patagonia, AZ A breakout group gathers to discuss issues of race and class in network development. To explore personal connections to the work, the group broke up into groups to share stories and motivations. Participants at the gathering worked together across regions. Sharing stories, experience and insights, representatives from the three networks identified common themes, challenges and approaches in their work. Working across generations is part of the strength of all three networks involved in the project. An educational work project was hosted down the road at Deep Dirt Farm Institute- a working farm and learning center that cultivates understanding about, and knowledge of, local food production. The group toured Deep Dirt's greenhouses full of local and heritage varieties of plants germinated from seed. Deep Dirt Farm Institute sits on 34 acres of deep agricultural soils, bisected by an ephemeral stream/wildlife corridor. The farm lies within a folded topography of hills, small sheltered valleys & broad meadow in Patagonia, AZ. Participants used large rocks to rebuild and guide drainage patterns for rain runoff through the arroyos. Working at Deep Dirt Farm. Participants used recycled stone to shore up the water drainage pathways on Deep Dirt Farm. Working together at Deep Dirt Farm. D'Artagnan Scorza, ED of the Social Justice Learning Institute, introduces Power Analysis as a critical tool for organizers and change-agents. The group used Theater of the Oppressed to explore barriers, dynamics, interventions and resolution skills required for social change. Theater of the Oppressed Theater of the Oppressed Multiple channels for feedback and input were built into the event planning process, the agenda, and the evaluation survey. Interacting through icebreakers, meal preparation, a trip to the border, and free time was a critical aspect of building relationships between the groups. Participants sharing stories. The "speed networking" activity introduced multiple participants to each other's work. Networking across regions Sharing projects and innovations through "speed networking." Group members from Nogales, AZ shared a historical context of the impact of border and trade policies on the local and national food system. A tour of the border town included walking over the border crossing, visiting the historical society, and eating a local lunch. A new public marketspace in Nogales provides an opportunity for local food vendors to reach new customers. At the Nogales Historical Museum The view from the retreat center, Patagonia, AZ. Kylen Blaine and Michael Enis work with Tohono O'odham Community Action (TOCA) in Sells, AZ. TOCA is bringing local and traditional food back into the institutions on the Tohono O'odham reservation, including regular home-cooked traditional school meals. C.W. "Doc" Davis, a vegetable farmer in Darling, MS, works with the network the Delta Fresh Foods Initiative to provide fresh local produce to regional schools. Participants came from across the United States- California (Los Angeles, Santa Cruz, and Oakland), the Mississippi Delta, southern and southeastern Arizona, Kansas, New York and New Mexico.

National Network Gathering

In November 2012, WhyHunger convened a gathering of all three regional networks  engaged in the Building Community Power for Food Justice project- Mississippi, Arizona and California. The three-day gathering in Patagonia, Arizona brought together 40 grassroots leaders from all three networks as well as nationally recognized food justice leaders, and WhyHunger staff.Through workshops, site visits, theater, local work projects, and community cooking activities, participants experienced and explored multiple layers of transformative organizing: the relationship to oneself, the relationships between each other, our relationship to the system, and how all of those relationships are impacted by the current landscape of the food system.

By interlinking the grassroots expertise generated in these regional systems, the gathering catalyzed a national network of mentors, partners, and peers who will continue to support and inspire each other to build and strengthen the movement for food justice.To learn more about the gathering, we invite you to read the notes.