Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Happy Thanksgiving

Whenever I make a pie, a loaf of bread, or pick a home grown tomato I often think about the scale of production required to supply a single grocery store, let alone dozens, hundreds, or thousands.  How many plants, how many bakers, pickers, etc. are required is mind boggling, let along the logistics and supply chain that gets that food into the store.

This CNN story,"See what farm workers do to get your favorite holiday meals on the table," shows how hard and fast farm workers work cultivating crops.

2.  In the face of the pandemic, the number of people going hungry is growing because they can't afford to buy food.  There have been many articles about food banks, the long lines, etc. ("'No end in sight': hunger surges in America amid a spiraling pandemic," Guardian).

-- Feeding America is the national association for food banks

3.  The Stop is a "food bank" in Toronto that has repositioned around being a community food center, rooted in the food bank, but with a broader focus on food, civic engagement, and community.

-- "Food activist Nick Saul on why we’re ripe for a revolution," Toronto Star
-- "Nick Saul: The man who built the foodie bank," Star

Nick Saul, the leader of that repositioning wrote an excellent book about it, The Stop: How the Fight for Good Food Transformed a Community and Inspired a Movement, and has since left the organization to start an organization, Community Food Centres Canada, working with other communities on creating or repositioning their food bank programs.

-- "Rethinking the food bank: It’s no longer just about handing out food to the hungry," Star

4.  I don't think the approach has caught on in the US, although one example seems to be the Crossroads Urban Center in Salt Lake City.  A number of low income support programs do include food access as part of their programming, but without a civic engagement focus.

Although separately there are various community food center like initiatives which are quite interesting.  Some focus on food as entrepreneurship, others on children, cooking, health, etc., such as:

-- The Ecology Center, San Juan Capistrano, California
-- 18 Reasons community cooking school, San Francisco (a spin off from the for profit Bi Rite Market)
-- Forge City Works, Hartford, Connecticut
-- La Cocina," San Francisco, a food focused entrepreneurship development program for immigrants
-- Together We Bake, Alexandria, Virginia
-- Flint Kids East Fresh Foods and Flint Kids Cook, Flint (Michigan) Cultural Center Academy ("COOKING CLASSES IN MICHIGAN ARE CHANGING KIDS LIVES," ChopChop Family)
-- Tomato Independence Project, Treasure Valley/Boise ("TREASURE VALLEY’S TOMATO INDEPENDENCE PROJECT," UC Food Observer)
-- ChopChop Family, nutrition magazines for children and families
-- Food Share (Toronto)
-- "How a strip of warehouses became a community hub," Toronto Globe & Mail
Afri Can Food Basket, Toronto ("How an activist cultivates teenagers," Toronto Globe & Mail)
-- Food Forest, Capital City Public Charter School, DC ("For D.C. students, lessons in growth, of the garden variety," Washington Post)
-- community orchards and food gleaning programs
-- many supermarket chains are integrating cooking schools into their stores, there are standalone cooking training programs like The Civic Kitchen in San Francisco, some public markets have demonstration kitchens, etc.

You also have the Master Gardener program within Agricultural extension programs, which is another model.

In the Eastern Market plan document I aim to finish within the next couple months, a main thrust is repositioning public markets in the 21st century as community centers for food.

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