Below is a picture from the close of a thought-provoking, challenging and energizing two-day meeting the Land Stewardship Project hosted this week at our Minneapolis office.
Leaders and staff from state-based rural membership organizations representing 10 Midwest and Western states came together in Minnesota and shared our experiences and our analyses related to organizing for positive change in our food and farming system. Present for the meetings were representatives from the Land Stewardship Project, Missouri Rural Crisis Center, Western Organization of Resource Councils, Powder River Basin Resource Council (WY), Oregon Rural Action, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, and Dakota Rural Action (SD).
The energy was high and the thinking was good. It was a meeting that stretched people a little bit — beyond just “what’s the next campaign?” to really grappling with “What do we need to do to change the context in which the next Farm Bill is written?” (and in which other decisions are made, too)
What was most exciting for me, and I think a lot of people in the room, were our discussions about building larger and more powerful organized bases of people in our states so that we as a movement can more often — and in more places — move members of Congress to positive action (or state policymakers) from their own states and districts.
It’s not just people’s opinions that count, but our ability to organize concerted action from the ground up that can overcome the continual presence of fleets of well-paid lobbyists at our state capitols and in Washington, DC.
Connected to this week’s discussions was the understanding that to change the context means also to create and advance our own narrative that rings true for people about what the current situation is. This narrative must also make it clear what is at stake and what we can do about it to create what we really want in our society in terms of farm and food systems.
We’ve allowed proponents of factory farms, of land concentration, of excessive government subsidies, of GMOs, to tell us, over and over again through every means available, what the situation supposedly is, what’s good and what’s possible.
Enough of that. Time to put people and the land first.
To get involved or find out more, call 612-722-6377 or e-mail Adam Warthesen, firstname.lastname@example.org or Mark Schultz, email@example.com. You can also visit our Organizing for Change page for information on LSP’s work to help people take control of their futures.
Mark Schultz is LSP’s Associate Director/Policy and Organizing Director/Director of Programs.