If you are on any type of local food listserv in Minnesota, you’ve received an invitation, or two, or ten to the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy’s Food + Justice = Democracy national meeting, convening September 24 -26 in downtown Minneapolis.
IATP’s goals for the convergence are lofty; the conference is billed as a national meeting to change the food justice narrative, where “participants will co-create a national food justice platform to push our government and our political leaders to prioritize a fair, just and healthy food system.”
I’ve never seen a conference agenda that asks attendees to be such an integral part of such a complex and weighty task as helping to reform the way that politicians are looking at our food system. Certainly, the agenda for this three day event seems anything but typical. Don’t expect to see conventional breakout sessions featuring power points and policy wonks. Presenters range widely, from academics to food justice activists to artists to farmers. And not only that, but routine music and movement breaks are peppered throughout the program.
I’m particularly curious to see the People’s Assembly Sessions, which are billed as “facilitated gatherings around various topics to inform & co-create the People’s Food Justice Pledge,” a pledge that is scheduled to be presented at the end of the three day conference.
I’m also particularly interested in hearing the series of talks on Tuesday, highlighting different cultures ways of knowing land. Youth, Somali, Hmong, African American, and First Nation voices are present, and will likely create much fodder for shared perspectives and conversation. I don’t expect to see the typical networking at this conference, which seems to be aimed towards creating genuine understanding and connection across boundaries.
Keynotes include US Congressman Keith Ellison and Pulitzer Prize winner Douglas Blackman. Food activist and IATP Senior Program Associate, Ladonna Redmond, will also be convening an all day post-conference gathering on September 27th at IATP headquarters to build on momentum from the conference with local food activists.
I’ll be recapping my thoughts on the conference soon. In the meantime, I look forward to seeing you all there!