Monday, May 2, 2011

Making Good Food Work

In spite of my instinctive desire to avoid any and all forms of public speaking, in February my friend (and former boss) Erin and I had applied to co-lead a series of work sessions on the mobile farmers' market that I have been developing for Arcadia. As fate would have it, we were accepted. At the last minute, Erin was unable to attend, which left me to represent Arcadia and lead sessions on mobile market project development. (Eep.) Erin was there in spirit, though, and I have gushed about the conference daily since my return.

Exactly two weeks ago today, I was heading to BWI airport, "just a girl with a dream and an old school bus," bound for the Making Good Food Work conference. Here I am on Day 2 with the mobile market working group, those folks who (whether out of excitement or pity or curiosity or an inexplicable desire to get their hands on one of the snazzy Food Bus buttons -- I may never know) elected to join my group after the opening "pitch" given by each of the 13 workshop leaders on the first morning.

Yes, this was my dream team. My own personal band of angels from around the country, come together to help me hash out some of the as-yet-unresolved matters relating to the project that has consumed nearly every waking moment of my life for the past four months. (I've mentioned the mobile market project once or twice on this blog, I believe....)

Organized like a "start-up weekend" (popular among the tech community, and usually held over a long weekend), the intensive 3 days of work sessions were structured to provide open resource and knowledge sharing among folks bringing varied expertise to the table in support of 6 thematic working groups and 7 projects. People coming together specifically to help me work out things I have needed help with for weeks? Does it get any better than this? Oh, and I should mention that the conference took place in Detroit, one of my all-time favorite American towns (though I have to say it felt a little bit weird not being on a bicycle this time around). How fitting that this hotbed of food activism would be the site for an incredible conference bent on getting good food to more people around the country.

I left the conference with new ideas, feedback on things ranging from logistics to market prediction to fundraising, and dozens of new friends from around the country (some of whom directly helped raise the remaining $3,600 over the final four days of the project's online fundraising campaign). In some ways, I feel eternally indebted to this most supportive of food communities and hope that some day I can similarly support other food activists. You all are truly making good food work for communities around the country.

So, dear MGFW organizers and participants, thanks for everything!!! Really. (And also: sorry that this post of thanks and celebration is so long overdue.)

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