Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A vision for San Diego: The Roots of Change Community Meeting

Last night, nearly 200 people gathered at the NTC Event Center in Point Loma to discuss the Roots of Change (ROC) campaign for a sustainable food system in California by 2030. The San Diego community meeting was one of many that ROC has been conducting in counties around the state, as the first step in engaging leaders in the existing food system towards positive change. The list of RSVP'd attendees was impressive and included such San Diegans as Eric Larson, director of the San Diego County Farm Bureau, Scott Murrary, director of Slow Food San Diego, Beth Ann Levendoski and others from the Tierra Miguel Foundation, city and county officials, and numerous farmers, educators, business owners, retailers, chefs, and distributors. And then there were people like me: concerned eaters.

The ROC Vision: The envisioned sustainable food system will improve the health of people, lift the fortunes of the food production industry, demonstrate the high standards of environmental stewardship, create pride of place, offer dignity and opportunity to workers, and lead worldwide demand for health and quality in everyday living.

The vision is vast and includes the formation of committees devoted to policy, education, workforce, production and health (to name a few), and the development of a set of goals and actions to gauge success. Three-quarters of a million dollars has been devoted to the development of the initiative so far. The ROC Stewardship Council contains a prestigious groups of members such as the executive director of the Columbia Foundation, a former White House deputy chief of staff, the executive director of the Clarence E. Heller Charitable Foundation, and the former deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture. The advisory board is equally impressive with members such as Alice Waters, vice-president of Slow Food International, Jose Montenegro, founder of the Center for International Sustainable Development, and Diana Cohn, managing director or the Panta Rhea Foundation.

After the initial introductions and speeches, the floor was opened for discussion. I listened intently as city officials spoke about the need for healthy, sustainable food in school lunches and the creation of community and school gardens, and as retailers and farmers suggested the development of a distribution center for local, organic produce. Out of the mouths of decision-makers, I began to envision th things for which I have longed having a chance of occurring.

Although the ROC gathering was only an introductory meeting, it was a moving event to have witnessed and an historic moment for the development of a sustainable food system in San Diego. As I left, my mind was positively spinning: What is my place in this movement? Is there a role for a blogger within this prestigious group of decision and policy-makers?

I found my answer deep in the working draft document handed to me when I entered the meeting:

Supportive Citizens - any resident of California or of the nation that joins the Leadership Network in order to support the campaign by making a call or writing a letter to support a new policy, attending an event, and/or making financial contribution to ROC or a collaborating organization.

Ah. If nothing else, I thought, I'll be filling the "committee" of the consumer. I suppose I can be satisfied with that.

Think you may have something to contribute? Join the Roots of Change Leadership Network.


ali said...

Melanie — it was so nice to meet you at the Roots of Change event. I felt like I was meeting a local celebrity!

I'm looking forward to many more future meetings!

Melanie Lytle said...

It was great to put a face to you as well! I love reading your blog, and always appreciate your feedback here!