Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Another National Award for the Food City Scenario

The LL.M. Program is delighted to announce that the "Food City Scenario"has won another national award -  this time, a Charter Award from the Congress for the New Urbanism.  Leaders from Northwest Arkansas traveled to New York to receive the award.

The LL.M. Program was proud to provide assistance to the University of Arkansas School of Architecture's Community Design Center in developing this innovative model for incorporating local food systems into urban growth.  Here's the announcement from the University of Arkansas Newswire.

Food City Scenario' Wins Charter Award From Congress for the New Urbanism
Northwest Arkansas leaders travel to Congress meeting in Buffalo

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – A project that seeks to build food sustainability by promoting local urban agriculture was recognized earlier this month at the annual meeting of the Congress for the New Urbanism. The University of Arkansas Community Design Center led the team that created the Fayetteville 2030: Food City Scenario project, which won an Award of Merit in the category for Planning Tool or Process.

The Charter Awards ceremony was held earlier this month at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center in Buffalo, New York, at the organization’s yearly Congress meeting, which brings architects, urban planners, developers and advocates together to network, learn and collaborate. The Congress is an international organization that works with multidisciplinary professionals to promote walkable, diverse and sustainable development.

Lioneld Jordan, mayor of Fayetteville, was one of about two dozen leaders from Northwest Arkansas who attended the meeting in Buffalo. The Walton Family Foundation funded the travel of this region’s leaders to the conference, which included a special meeting with the Congress board and chief executive officer. Mayors, chamber of commerce officials, county commissioners and Northwest Arkansas Council officials attended in an effort to develop greater urban livability and planning coordination in the region.

Jordan said the event was educational and inspiring as ideas were shared from cities around the country. “A lot of the things that they talked about are things we’re looking at in this city,” he said. “I think they showed us some easier ways to do them.”

Food City Scenario is a solid project that caught the attention of the Charter Awards judges and also features some ideas already being implemented in Fayetteville, Jordan said.

“We’ve got to look at urban development different than we have in the last 50 years for sure,” Jordan said. The award recognition “shows that we’re doing some stuff that’s even a little outside the box.”

The Fayetteville City Council recently passed a comprehensive urban agriculture ordinance, which allows city residents to raise goats and bees, plus more chickens than previously allowed. It also allows them to sell produce grown in their home gardens. Next, city officials plan to look at the possibility of planting fruit and nut trees alongside public streets.

“I’m a firm supporter of people being able to sustain themselves and being able to grow their own food,” Jordan said. As more people are living in urban areas than rural ones, “we’ve got to learn how to produce our own food.”

The Community Design Center led an interdisciplinary team at the University of Arkansas whose project, Fayetteville 2030: Food City Scenario, speculates on what Fayetteville might look like if the city’s growth integrated local urban food production sustainable enough to create self-sufficiency. Fayetteville’s population of 75,000 is expected to double over the next 20 years. In addition, although the region is the most prosperous in the state, it also has one of the state’s highest child hunger rates.

Supported by the Clinton Global Initiative, Food City Scenario is an urban agricultural project that aims to weave agricultural urbanism back into the city environment, with the prospect of helping Fayetteville achieve greater food security and resiliency, said Steve Luoni, director of the Community Design Center.

Most cities stock a three-day supply of food, mostly from global supply chains, “meaning that we are only nine meals away from anarchy,” Luoni said. This scenario devises a middle-scale urban food production model that lies between the scale of the industrial farm and the individual garden, called the “missing middle.” In this plan, this foodshed – a geographic area of connected food production and consumption – functions as an ecological municipal utility, featuring green infrastructure; public, food-producing landscapes, such as edible forest farms, orchard-lined streets, fruit and nut boulevards; food hubs; organic waste recycling districts; and various other agrarian initiatives.

“Food has been conspicuously absent from American planning, even though it ranks in importance with water, power and sanitation – the latter all utilities,” Luoni said. “Our scenario plan formulates the rationale, design tools and placemaking concepts for making urban food production an option once again in the construction of cities.”

Juror Brent Toderian called Food City Scenario a “highly creative, comprehensive and leading-edge ‘thought piece’ on urban food.” From farm-to-table arrangements with local institutions to a closed-loop, upcycling waste management system (including extracting nutrients from food waste through composting) to several greenhouse and other geothermal plans, Food City is an in-depth look at a city’s vibrant potential.

“The project went well beyond policy and principle, to connect urban food production with alternative growth scenarios, public space types, and real-world housing,” Toderian said.

This collaborative plan involved the Fay Jones School of Architecture, the department of biological and agricultural engineering, the Center for Agricultural and Rural Sustainability, the School of Law and its master of laws program in agricultural and food law, the department of food science, and the city of Fayetteville. This team also worked with local nonprofit groups dedicated to fighting hunger and poverty. The report can be found on the Community Design Center’s website.

Earlier this year, this project was recognized with an Honorable Mention in the 61st Progressive Architecture Awards program.


Saturday, June 21, 2014

Vice Provost for Distance Education to Serve on National Association Board

As we posted previously, LL.M. Program Announces Integrated Distance Option Fall 2014, this Fall marks the official launch of the distance education track for the LL.M. Program.

While some schools contract with private education companies to outsource their distance course development, at the University of Arkansas, we are fortunate to have a full team of distance education professionals in-house through our Global Campus.

The help we have received and continue to receive from Global Campus has been tremendous.  We have a team of distance education course designers assigned to our Program, and they work under the leadership of the Vice Provost for Distance Education, Dr. Javier Reyes.  Dr. Reyes has been a hands-on champion for our work, monitoring our progress and providing guidance.

This week, Dr. Reyes received national recognition for his work with distance education. He was appointed to the  board of directors for the University Professional and Continuing Education Association.  Congratulations, Dr. Reyes, and thank you again for your support in assuring the success of our online program.

The article below is a repost from a University of Arkansas Newswire announcement.


Javier A. Reyes, vice provost for distance education, has accepted a one-year appointment to the board of directors for the University Professional and Continuing Education Association and will attend his first meeting June 17.
Reyes, head of the Global Campus and an economics professor, will fill an unexpired term through March 2015 and then be eligible to serve a full two-year term of his own.

UPCEA, founded in 1915 and based in Washington D.C., is a leading national association for professional, continuing and online education that serves more than 395 institutions, including most of the leading public and private colleges and universities in North America. The association serves as a link between adult learners and public policy issues, and it provides innovative conferences and specialty seminars, research and benchmarking information, professional networking opportunities and timely publications.

The UPCEA board directs the affairs of the association, determines its policies and advances its goals, except as otherwise provided in the association’s bylaws.

 “As the university continues to grow its online programs and offerings, it is important that we step into national leadership roles that allow us to share our innovations and achievements with our peers,” Provost Sharon Gaber said. “I am confident that Javier Reyes, in his new appointment, will bring national attention to our accomplishments and help guide policy development that will shape the future of online education.”

 UPCEA recognizes the growing importance online education in addressing the needs of non-traditional students who seek to continue or further their education, Reyes said.

“UPCEA is looking to those who are leading the way in reshaping education by expanding online offerings,” Reyes said. “The University of Arkansas is taking an innovative approach to online learning because our online offerings are not separate from our academic campus, but an important part of it, an extension of it.”

Some institutions separate their on-campus and online academics. At the University of Arkansas, online degree programs and courses are embedded in the academic ecosphere, growing within departments inside colleges and schools on campus and nurtured by the faculty who create course content, set learning outcomes and establish degree programs.

Reyes leads the Global Campus, which supports academic colleges and schools in the development and delivery of online education by providing instructional design services, faculty development and workshops, technology services and help with strategic academic planning and marketing.
Other higher education institutions represented on the UPCEA board include Syracuse University; University of Wisconsin; Brown University; University of Massachusetts Amherst; North Carolina State University; University of Colorado, Boulder; Western Michigan University; McGill University; University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; University of Minnesota; and University of California, Los Angeles.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

LL.M. Alum Baylen Linnekin Publishes Article & Produces Video on Food Law & Policy

Baylen Linnekin
I am delighted to announce that the Wisconsin Law Review has published an excellent article discussing the origin and growth of the Food Law & Policy movement in law schools.  The article, written by our LL.M. alumnus, Baylen Linnekin, Executive Director of Keep Food Legal and co-author Emily Broad Lieb, Director of the Food Policy Clinic at Harvard Law School is titled Food Law & Policy: The Fertile Field's Origins & First Decade.  The article chronicles the development of Food Law & Policy, giving significant credit to our Program, as well as to our Visiting Professors, Neil Hamilton and Peter Barton Hutt, and our alumnus, Michael Roberts.

To accompany the article, Baylen arranged for the production of a video that describes the development of food law & policy and discusses the opportunities presented by this new discipline.  The video provides interviews with Food Law & Policy leaders as well as students involved in the food policy movement.

As detailed in both the article and the video, the number of Food Law & Policy courses at law schools is growing.  A recent Harvard Law School publication noted that there is "no hotter topic in law schools right now than food law and policy."  In fact, Baylen will be teaching a new 2-credit Food Law & Policy Seminar at George Mason University Law School this coming fall.

We all agree with a statement from Baylen's blog post about the project - Food Law & Policy will "continue to grow in scope and importance over the next decade."

The video is embedded below, and a link to the article will be provided as soon as it is available electronically.

Our sincere thanks to Baylen for his good work and for including us in this exciting project.

   

Sunday, June 15, 2014

LL.M. Professor Explains Farm Bill Provisions

Since the 2014 Farm Bill passed last winter, our visiting professor, Allen Olson has been very busy. When Allen is not teaching his condensed course in Federal Farm Programs and Crop Insurance for the LL.M. Program, he has an active full time regional agricultural law practice based in Georgia.  His farm clients as well as farm suppliers and lenders have all been looking to him to help figure out how the complex new provisions in the farm bill will apply to their operations.

Allen has delivered about 30 presentations to various groups and was recently interviewed by Chris Adams with the McClatchy News Service's Washington Bureau. The article focused on the peanut program -  a program that has received little attention in the media, but that is very important in several southern states.  It's also important to consumers.  The article was widely circulated to McClatchy news subscribers and emphasizes how complex the farm programs and farm policy can be.

Allen enjoying an outing w/students after class 
We are fortunate to have Allen as one of our visiting professors and look forward to his class next October 2014.

Here's an excerpt from the article, Peanut growers worry about unintended impact of farm bill, as printed in the Miami Herald.
In the heart of the nation’s peanut zone, farmers are putting substantially more runners into the ground than they did last year. And in the eyes of some industry experts, that boom might spell doom. 
“Runner peanuts” are used to make peanut butter _ not the bigger nuts you’ll find at the ballpark – and they’re the most prevalent of the types of peanuts grown in the United States. Overall peanut acreage is expected to be up substantially this year, around 30 percent more than last year throughout the nation’s 10 peanut-growing states. 
“I gave a speech to the Georgia Bankers Association a few weeks ago in which I described the possible problem as the ‘peanut apocalypse,’ ” said Allen Olson, a lawyer who specializes in farm issues in southern Georgia. 
His concern is that incentives in the recently enacted farm bill – the massive piece of legislation passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama amid much fanfare in February – could lead to over-planting and depressed prices, and ultimately might lead to farmers not receiving the benefits they expected.
Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/06/05/4160532/peanut-growers-worry-about-unintended.html#storylink=cpy

Friday, June 13, 2014

LL.M. Faculty and Alumni to participate at the 1st International Conference on Food Safety, Hong Kong

This week, three attorneys with close ties to the LL.M. Program will participate in the 1st International Conference on Food Safety taking place on the campus of the University of Hong Kong, June 16-18, 2014.

Adam Soliman
According to the website, "The conference will address the emerging issues and the diverse aspects of food safety with special emphasis on global impact." The Conference Programme, features an impressive line up of speakers.

Participating in the conference is LL.M. Alumnus Adam Soliman, who assisted with conference organization. Adam completed our program in 2013 and is now the Director of The Fisheries Law Centre in Vancouver. He is a graduate of the University of Hong Kong Law School.

William D. Marler
Participating as featured Conference Speakers at Adam's invitation are two nationally recognized food law experts from the United States, also with ties to our Program.

Leading U.S. foodborne illness litigation attorney, William D. (Bill) Marler, will deliver a keynote address, Why It Is a Bad Idea to Poison Your Customers. Bill is a frequent speaker at food law conferences here and abroad and is a founding partner of the Marler Clark law firm based in Seattle. He is also the founder of the internationally acclaimed news service, Food Safety News.

Peter Barton Hutt
Bill Marler's presentation will be followed by a keynote address by Harvard University Law School's Food & Drug Law Professor, Peter Barton Hutt, an attorney with the Washington, D.C. law firm of Covington & Burling.  Professor Hutt is the author of the foundation Press Food & Drug Law casebook. He will speak on Current Food Law in Historical Context.

Both Bill Marler and Peter Barton Hutt have taught food law courses within the LL.M. Program in the past.  Bill Marler has taught our Food Safety Litigation course for a number of years, and Professor Hutt has taught Selected Issues in Food Law. We hope to have them back with us again soon.

We wish we could be in Hong Kong with our friends for this excellent conference.







Friday, June 6, 2014

LL.M. Candidate A-dae Romero named Fulbright Scholar

Congratulations to LL.M. Candidate Vena A-Dae Romero, named yesterday as one of five University of Arkansas Student Fulbright Scholars. A-Dae will be focusing her work on indigenous food sovereignty in New Zealand, comparing similar colonial experiences between the Maori people of New Zealand and the American Indians in the United States and exploring the influence of traditional food systems. A-dae completed her coursework in the LL.M. Program in May 2014. The University of Arkansas Newswire announcement is included below.

Five University of Arkansas Students Named Fulbright Scholars 

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Five University of Arkansas students have been awarded prestigious J. William Fulbright Scholarships to complete their studies or teach abroad during the upcoming academic year. The Fulbright international exchange program offers students the opportunity to travel to a country of their choice, either to conduct advanced research in their fields of study or to teach English in elementary and secondary schools. Of the five University of Arkansas students awarded, two received research scholarships and three won English teaching assistantships. Two applied as undergraduates; three as graduate students. A sixth student received a Fulbright Scholarship, but accepted a different award instead.

The Fulbright winners are Anne Greeott of Seattle, Washington, M.F.A. in literary translation and creative writing; Courtney Hill of Jonesboro, B.S. in civil engineering; Karsten Powers of Cabot, B.A. in Spanish and international relations; Vena A’dae Romero of Cochiti Pueblo, New Mexico, LL.M. in agricultural and food law; and Rachael Schaffner of Spring, Texas, M.A. in English.

“There is no dearer scholarship program to the University of Arkansas than the Fulbright,” said G. David Gearhart, chancellor of the University of Arkansas. “To have five students receive this prestigious award is a tribute to the quality of our students and to the great work being done in the colleges, in the graduate school, and in the study abroad office. 

“Sen. Fulbright said that the purpose of this program is to foster ‘leadership, learning, and empathy between cultures,’ and I know these students will embrace these goals and will serve as excellent ambassadors for our institution, for Arkansas and the United States.”

The Fulbright program was established in 1946 through legislation sponsored by Sen. J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, to promote international education as a means of fostering cultural and political understanding across the globe. More than 155 countries participate in the program, and approximately 1,900 students from all fields of study are awarded grants each year. Since its creation, the Fulbright program has allowed more than 325,000 people worldwide to participate in international educational exchange. Students receive approximately $25,000 for the year.

Anne Greeott, a Walton Creative Writing Fellow, is pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in literary translation and creative writing in the department of English in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences. She has been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to travel to Rome to complete her work on translations of the poet Mario Luzi, a Nobel prize nominee. In addition to her research, she will teach periodic workshops on poetry and literary translation to public high school students in Rome.

Courtney Hill, a Chancellor’s Scholar and Distinguished Governor’s Scholar, is an undergraduate Honors College student in the College of Engineering, majoring in civil engineering with sustainability minor. She was also a recipient of an Honors College Research Grant and an Honors College Study Abroad Grant. She received her Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering this spring. She will spend the upcoming year teaching English in South Korea before pursuing a doctorate in civil engineering as a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow. 

Karsten Powers, an Honors College Fellow and an Arkansas Governor’s Scholar, majored in Spanish and international relations in Fulbright College, minoring German. Powers also received an Honors College Research Grant. He graduated this spring and will teach English in Madrid, Spain, in the fall. After completing the Fulbright, he plans to pursue a Master of Arts in international relations.

Vena Romero has just completed the Master of Laws program in agricultural and food law at the School of Law. She will complete a research study on indigenous food sovereignty in New Zealand. Her study will compare similar colonial experiences between the Maori people of New Zealand and the American Indians in the United States and explore the influence of traditional food systems. 

Rachael Schaffner is a master’s student in the department of English in Fulbright College. She will teach English at Ataturk University in Erzurum, Turkey. When she returns, she plans to pursue a doctorate in ecological criticism.

Adrian Beam majored in music and European studies in Fulbright College, graduating this spring. She was offered a Fulbright Scholarship to teach English in Austria but declined the offer to accept the Austrian Government Teaching Award. 

“A Fulbright Scholarship can have a lasting effect on lucky recipients as well as the communities they live in during their year abroad,” said DeDe Long, the director of the University of Arkansas Study Abroad Program and the campus Fulbright Program adviser. “The program stretches students in many ways, opening a world of new educational and personal opportunities. I feel privileged to work with these exceptional students and watch them embrace these new experiences.”

These awards to University of Arkansas students come at a time when the Fulbright program is facing budget cuts of more than $30 million during the next year. Many educators around the world – including Chancellor Gearhart – have spoken in defense of the program, highlighting the long-term benefits of the Fulbright Scholarship for students and for society at large. More information about the proposed cuts is available online

Students wanting to apply for the Fulbright Scholarship should contact the office of study abroad (722 W. Maple St., Fayetteville, AR) at 479-575-7582 or studyabr@uark.edu. The campus deadline for the 2015-2016 year is Sept. 22.

-30-

CONTACTS:

DeDe Long, director

Office of Study Abroad

479-575-7582, dslong@uark.edu

Steve Voorhies, manager, media relations

University Relations

479-575-3583, voorhies@uark.edu 

Members of the media can subscribe to the weekday Arkansas Newswire email by sending a note to Charlie Alison at calison@uark.edu.





Thursday, June 5, 2014

Professor Christopher Kelley to Moderate Negotiation Workshop, Fulbright Program in Ukraine

University of Arkansas Professor of Law and LL.M. Faculty Christopher Kelley will return to Kyiv in June by invitation of the Fulbright Program in Ukraine to moderate a two-day Negotiation Workshop.  

Professor Christopher Kelley was a Fulbright Scholar in Kharkiv, Ukraine, in 2005 and in Chisinau, Moldova, in 2011. He continues to teach at universities in Ukraine and Moldova through interactive digital video conferencing and in person. He also has taught and continues to teach in Belarus and Lithuania and has taught in Kazakhstan and Russia. He is a part-time Professor at Kyiv Taras Shevchenko National University and a consultant to the Inyurpolis Law Firm in Kharkiv. 

Professor Kelley has taken University of Arkansas law students to Moldova, Ukraine, and Belarus. He was the first American law professor to teach at the Belarusian State University Law Faculty and his Transnational Negotiation students were the first American law students to participate in a course at the BSU Law Faculty. 


Currently the Chair of the Public International Law I Division of the American Bar Association Section of International Law, Professor Kelley previously served three terms as the Co-Chair of the Section’s Russia/Eurasia Committee. He is now a Senior Adviser to the Russia/Eurasia Committee. He also has served as Vice-Chair of the Section’s Committee on International Legal Education and Specialist Certification. He was a delegate on the Section’s International Legal Exchange (ILEX) briefing trips to Poland, Jordan, Lebanon, Australia, and New Zealand. He participated in the World Justice Project’s World Justice Forums I and II in Vienna and the World justice Forum IV in The Hague. Recently he was appointed to an ad hoc working group to advise the American Bar Association’s President on ongoing developments in Ukraine. 

Professor Kelley is a member of the Fulbright Association Board of Directors. He also was a member of the Board of Directors of the Fulbright Academy before the Fulbright Academy merged with the Fulbright Association. Professor Kelley is a member of the editorial boards of the Baltic Journal of Law and Politics published by Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas, Lithuania, and Law and Civil Society published by Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Ukraine. 

He was on the Board of Directors of the Fulbright Academy. He also is a member of the International Bar Association. Before joining the faculty in 1998, Professor Kelley practiced in large and small law firms variously in Minnesota, Arkansas, Georgia, and the District of Columbia. He also has been a public defender, a legal services attorney, and staff counsel to the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi. He began his legal career in the Solicitor General’s Office of the Minnesota Attorney General. 

Professor Kelley has taught at the William Mitchell College of Law, the University of North Dakota School of Law, the University of South Dakota School of Law, and the Drake University Law School. He is admitted to practice in Arkansas, Georgia, Minnesota, North Dakota, and the District of Columbia, though he has active status only in Arkansas.


Registration and Workshop information may be found here.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Janie Hipp, Director of the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative featured in New American Media Story


The article copied below is repost from New American Media. View the original article here.

      


New America Media, News Report, Khalil Abdullah, Posted: Jun 01, 2014 Photo courtesy of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

DETROIT – About two years ago, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation made a gutsy call to convene its 2014 food and nutrition conference in Detroit. Even then, declining economic fortunes and subsequent social disruptions dominated most of the narratives about the city’s future.

Yet, the wisdom of selecting the Motor City as the host site for this May’s Harvesting Change Food and Community Gathering was borne out last week as more than 650 food advocates from Hawaii, Alaska, and the lower 48 gathered to share knowledge and information about the “good food” movement.

“I’m a give you compost the only way a poet and emcee can give it to you,” boasted Detroit-born spoken-word artist Kidiri Sennefer, one of conference’s first speakers. He then launched into a rap that examined the politics of America’s eating habits, fast-food addictions and corporate food-systems dominance.

Sennefer’s day job is compost manger of D-Town Farm, ensuring enriched soil for the vegetables and fruits grown on the now seven-acre enterprise inside Rouge Park, Detroit’s largest public park.

The farm is a project of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, a grassroots organization. Its mission is to improve the nutritional and dietary options for city residents through good food.

Conference attendees ranged from farmers and farm workers to urban gardeners, restaurant workers, policy analysts, and nutritionists.

Betti Wiggins of the Detroit Public Schools Office of School Nutrition said her office has received great support, some through the network of relationships past conferences afforded her. She said the city is attaining its goals of bringing healthier foods to school children, particularly through its lunch program.

“I’m proud to say we’re a big fat success,” she exclaimed, noting that Detroit’s lunches now exceed USDA standards and the school system’s progress and achievements have been nationally recognized by good food advocates, including the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Wiggins encouraged attendees to also visit “our 77 school gardens, our two-acre farm” which contribute to the school system’s aggregate of locally grown food. She said her office has plans to add another 30 acres at a high school as a resource.

Importantly, Wiggins pointed out, the school system, at 22 percent, has exceeded its goal of drawing 20 percent of its food from farms and gardens in and around Detroit and that benchmark will continue to be raised. In addition, 16 new permanent staff positions have been added as a result, a glimpse of the potential of how sourcing locally grown and regional food can contribute to a city’s employment base.

One fiscal argument for augmenting local food networks is to reduce the tremendous costs that fuel and labor add to shipping produce from distant sites, whether in urban areas like Detroit or rural regions of the country such as Alaska.

“In some of our isolated villages in Alaska, families are having to choose between the price of heating oil and food,” reported Dave Monture, technical assistance specialist for the Intertribal Agriculture Council. He said the cost of milk in some areas has risen to $20 a gallon. But Monture said he was encouraged for the future of sustainable agriculture practices and the good food movement by the presence of youth participants in attendance scattered among and often mentored by their elders with decades of experience. Still, Monture cautioned that perfecting expertise in community development initiatives must be balanced by the holistic awareness of the impact of larger systems on food issues, energy and climate change.

Monture was born on the Six Nations Reserve, Ontario and his mother is from the Akwesasne reservation in New York. A former Director of Economic Development for the Su’naq Tribe of Kodiak, Alaska, he noted that one weather station in the state recorded 97 degrees below Fahrenheit this winter; “the old-timers in the Aleutians are seeing sea creatures and birds they’ve never seen before” as a result of unstable weather patterns.

Representatives from other Native American communities also voiced concerns about drought, the unpredictable circumstances nature sometimes presents – a wandering elk who feasted on vine-ripened crops in New Mexico -- but also about the man-made barriers to sustainable food practices: lack of access to capital and increasing costs associated with food operations.

At the heart of the drive for food security is the concept of sovereignty. “We are not sovereign if we can't feed ourselves,” tweeted one attendee, quoting Janie Simms Hipp of the Chickasaw Nation, who served as senior advisor for tribal affairs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and was the recent director of the USDA Office of Tribal Relations. Last year she co-authored an article on food sovereignty.

“We absolutely must include time to discuss our food insecurity, resiliency of our indigenous food systems, and how to feed the most vulnerable among us in times of crisis,” Hipp wrote. “After all, it wasn’t too long ago that starvation was used to force tribes into submission.”

That sentiment was echoed by urban dwellers, intimately aware of their food insecurity and dependence on outside actors.

Malik Yakini, executive director of the network that includes rap artist/compost manager Sennefer’s employer, said DBCFSN is planning to open a Detroit food cooperative in 2015. In his view, the need for a co-op emerged from the inferior quality of foods sold in stores in predominantly African-American neighborhoods, the disrespect often shown those same neighborhood residents by store employees, and the outflow of resources that could be better directed toward attaining food security.

Yakini reminded out-of-towners that, “Detroit is in a serious crisis.” He cited “the imposition of an emergency manager on the city of Detroit by the governor of the state,” a newly established position “whose powers supersede those of [the city’s] elected officials.”

He said that DBCFSN has been educating residents and organizing resistance to this “assault on democracy. If it can happen in Detroit, it can happen wherever you live as well,” he warned.


NAM editor Khalil Abdullah attended the Harvesting Change Food and Community Gathering as a guest of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.