John Lennon warned us years ago that we all wanna change the world. But what happens when change doesn't want us? I pondered on this question after the DC Food Future Summit. Panel members Stephanie Sheridan (IPAI Global) and Tambra Raye (NativeSol Kitchen) fired up the discussion, while I moderated the questions.
But there were 3 things I learned about conversations on community change:
1) Don't Force the Food. Find the People!
As much as I want to see a healthy neighborhood, I can't shove raw organic kale down anyone's throat. The DC Food Future Summit was comprised of a lot of smart people who already believe in the promise of a sustainable life. There was little representation from the people who are actually faced with the challenge of finding healthy food. If we expect to plan for DC, we should also get more DC residents involved in the conversation.
2) Ideas Are Great. Plans are Better!
After we bounced ideas up, down and all around, we didn't really walk away with an action plan. I have committed to taking one idea and starting a Micro-finance group for women health entrepreneurs. Every minute spent talking about change, should also be spent planning for the change.
3) We Are Alike MORE Than We Are Different.
A white woman from a lower income Maryland Suburb pulled me aside and said, "I can relate to almost every experience." Not because of her skin color, but because of her location. I spend a lot of time dissecting the issues of Anacostia. Yet, how is health in rural Oklahoma or South Baltimore any different from Anacostia? Health injustice is an American epidemic. Poor black neighborhoods are the canary in the coal mine of what is to come for the country as a whole.
I walked away from the workshop feeling empowered but restless. I thought, "What can I do NOW with the resources I have? How do I get the ball rolling?" Now my job is to translate partnerships into progress. Health and wealth depends on more than just opening a co-op or teaching exercise classes. The next level of success involves people, planning and partnerships.
Thanks to the interesting and quirky people we met at the conference! I look forward to next year!
The journey continues...
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