"Don’t die without embracing the daring adventure your life is meant to be."
I am passionate about influencing positive change in challenging and complex environments. I climb mountains, I specialize in ethical and sustainable supply chain strategy, I gallop horses bareback and I believe deeply in the power of thought-provoking storytelling. I am committed to encouraging and supporting companies, organizations and individuals to work toward better solutions, to explore alternative ideas about our social and environmental impact, and to build truly sustainable and responsible systems that protect our communities and environment.
Dear Emily- Thanks so much for your comment- I absolutely agree growing up on the farm also has it's very dirty and difficult days. I don't necessarily know if the reality of farming is ever sexy (my mom always used to joke that we should start a magazine called "Sick Country Living" that told real stories from the farm to replace the swanky "Country Living" magazine :) ), but I do believe there is a lot of beauty in the practice of working with the land. We relied on our farm to sustain our family rather than producing for the wider commercial market (my dad worked in construction, so we lived off that income and supplemented our living costs with what we produced on our farm). My brother also was made fun of in school for living on a farm, most of the other kids lived in developments as the generations of farmers were dying out in the area. I didn't have a problem with teasing, but I do hope that any dialogue that might make the idea of working in agriculture (for example so much of the Slow Food millenial movements) sexy can change the way people perceive farmers and their families so that they're celebrated rather than looked down upon or cast out.
In the years after I left the farm and began working in supply chain I spent a lot of time working with commercial agricultural sites to evaluate human rights conditions and environmental impact- the reality in that aspect of food growing is starkly different than the one I grew up in. That is one of the reasons I believe we need to expose more children (and people in general) to the process of growing food, it brings with it a greater sense of compassion and curiosity about the people harvesting the food we buy when we have a better understanding of how much work goes into it.
I am familiar with Labor Voices, I did some work a few years ago on a pilot project to integrate mobile phone surveys into the standard audit process using another worker-direct communication tool called Labor Link (http://goodworldsolutions.org/). It's important for these new technologies to be coming into the stale field of compliance, as the cookie-cutter audit model often used in factories is deeply flawed and extremely difficult to exercise in the context of agriculture.
Thank you so much for sharing the link to the library exhibit!! It is such a fantastic effort, and such a necessary glimpse into the human aspect of the food we eat. I worked on a human trafficking project focused on farm workers that had been brought over by coyotes and were essentially working in bonded labor attempting to pay off the immense debt to drug cartels. The money they earned picking potatoes and onions in fields was going straight to pay for their crossing, they couldn't even send it home to their families in need (the whole reason they made the very dangerous crossing in the first place). These people had nowhere to turn for help, as they faced deportation if they went to the police. Our food system in the USA (and all across the world, really), is layered with these complex challenges, but I do believe the more transparency there is, the more stories being told and the more people listening and asking questions, the more innovative ideas and solutions can come to light. That's the hope anyway.
Thank you so much for the links, I'm sharing the exhibit link with any friends I have in the New York area in case they want to visit it.
Hey Tessa- I hadn't heard about Olio but love the concept and that it's getting traction!! Looking forward to seeing how it can grow and impact communities globally. I live in southern Chile and we have loads of apple trees around our property that produce such a surplus of fruit that I've already been inviting neighbors to arrange weekend harvests for next fall simply because we'll have far more than we can eat (and we don't really have aims to sell them). Would be lovely to be able to find and easily connect with more communities locally that need food like this so we can invite them as well.
Hi Shane! I enjoyed your post, and absolutely agree that an awareness of how our food is grown and by who can have a direct impact on what we waste. Aside from my personal experience growing up on a farm where we grew much of what we ate, I have also worked with farm workers to improve labor conditions in fields all around the world. I don't look at strawberries the same way after working on child labor cases on farms in Mexico and forced labor issues with women harvesting the fruit in Africa. We are often kinder and more considerate with other people when we know a little about their story, I think we are the same way with our food when we learn the stories connected to it. I imagine some sort of storytelling platform that can trace the life of the food we buy- from our plate to the market to the fields to the seed- how did it travel, who touched it, what were the conditions and what resources did it require. Then we see the beginning and middle of the cycle- the end of the cycle is consumption or disposal- by showing people all of the energy, the human aspect of the growing process, I think it naturally makes us more inclined to not waste food and to consume more consciously.