Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 2 (Summer 2016) - Page 40

FOOD FIGHT CONFERENCE PLENARY 2 - Finberg & panelists together to do the right thing. With that, thank you so, so much for having me. I hope I’ve been able to add a little to the food fight that has begun. [Applause] John Lussier: Thanks so much, Max. We’re going to transition to Portland’s local story. I’m going to invite Beyth and the panel to come up. Beyth Hogue Greenetz: We’ve spent a lot of time today talking about the really big problems with the food system. And sometimes it’s daunting to think about how we can possibly make a difference. And so we wanted to bring you some folks who are making a difference and show you that, all over our country and especially here in Portland, there is a lot of activity happening to address little bits and pieces of our food system. No one can solve the whole problem by themselves, and so each of these folks has seen a different niche in the food system and found their own creative solution to it. And so we’re going to ask them to tell you about that, and I’m going to let them introduce themselves as part of their own stories. The two questions I’d like for each of you to answer are, first, what is that niche in the food system that you saw? What is that problem that you sought to solve? And then, of course, what is your solution to it? And if you want to put in a plug for volunteering with an organization or other ways that folks here in the audience can get involved with the work you do, please feel free. I know a lot of people would really like to be able to do something. Adam Kohl: My name is Adam Kohl. I’m the director of Outgrowing Hunger, a Portland-based nonprofit that started in 2011. The intersection of needs and resources that we saw was lots and lots of vacant space in the city, particularly in Portland and around the margins of the development that’s moving its way east, sitting there growing weeds and not doing anything. At the same time, we also found that there was a little bit of a shortage of participant-based solutions to solving a hunger crisis, that is, not giving things away to people but empowering them to grow their own food or to share their own food within their community. And we found that the missing piece was quasi-institutional stakeholders who could hold the insurance and write up a legal contract and do some coordination work, so that these community-based groups could actually approach landowners, get permission to grow food to share and/or sell as needed. And we found that niche particularly with the refugee community. There were tons and tons of skill and potential and need, tons and tons of land sitting around in their neighborhoods, but they didn’t have the coordination or the language skills to make these things reality. So currently we operate eight gardens, mostly in east Portland, working with about three hundred people to grow food. Our biggest project site is at about 162nd and Stark Street. We have a community 37