While working in the City Blossoms garden as a part of our community learning activity on Friday, we picked tomatoes amongst other tasks. The garden was meticulously kept, with a whimsical vibe– an environment that was enjoyable to spend the morning in (pictured at bottom). The tasks were not very laborious, but it was nice to see the collaboration and mutual care that went on in the garden.
Now, while at Eastern Market this morning, I came across these extremely photogenic tomatoes that loosely reminded me of our work in the garden. I think that by performing the task of picking vegetables and witnessing a part of the cycle of plant growth, I was able to be more appreciative of these tomatoes. I think that in an urban environment, it is very easy to lose sight of the connection between the garden and the produce, and even though these tomatoes did not come directly from City Blossoms, it was refreshing to see the fresh produce from a plant that I was just recently exposed to.
Yesterday, I visited the Jacob Riis exhibition at the Library of Congress entitled “How the Other Half Lives.” The exhibit documented the photo journalist’s work on exposing the impoverished and hidden lives of immigrants in New York in hopes for social reform. While the era that Riis was documenting was clearly different than that of today, the exhibit made me think about my time thus far in DC and my work at the Rural Coalition. The Rural Coalition strives to bring a voice to migrant, immigrant, indigenous and socially disadvantaged farmworkers throughout the country– people who do not have the means or resources to be adequately heard in politics. Although we are not using photo journalism to have their stories and situations shared for awareness, we try to highlight their personal narratives in hopes to instill social change and a more equitable environment. I think that rural poverty is often overlooked in comparison to that in an urban setting, and it is a challenge to bring light and awareness to “how the other half lives” in an environment completely different to that of my own.
Realizing I took no photos at the International Society for Ecological Economics, I figured a screenshot of my ticket would do the job. This past week I attended this conference full of international academics, leaders of progressive organizations, and research panels– the environment was humbling to say the least. While the panels that I attended were mostly focused on climate change, the overall tone of the conference was focused on sustainability, which I thought tied in nicely with the core of food systems.
Through the presentations it was clear that these individuals and organizations were at the forefront of ecological and economic change through their long and intricate research and developed methods, and while they all centered their work on these problems, there were few mentioned solutions. I guess in oder to develop a solution, the problem needs to be confronted, but while the tone of the conference was inspiring, I left with little hope. Maybe it was just the nature of the conference and the time crunches that each presentation had to meet, but what is the good of all of this collected research without collaboration and a plan? And even if they all had separate agendas on how they planned on incorporating their findings into policy, I feel like that would be ineffective in confronting any grave concern.