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this year's theme: Humanizing the Food System
What does it take to find common ground with unlikely allies? If we only collaborate with those who we already agree with, then the food system we build will remain peripheral, homogenous, and exclusive. To move our shared work beyond the choir, we must have difficult conversations, engage in deep listening and understand the humanity behind all of our beliefs and actions. While we may agree with this premise in the abstract, how many of us are willing to reach across difference to foster crucial new relationships? How often do we seek to understand where our values and interests intersect?
Across the northeast food advocates are answering these questions with action. Join us at this year's It Takes A Region conference to hear their stories and share your experiences working to humanize the food system. Speakers such as Dr. Samina Raja, a global leader in food systems planning and research, and Pastor Heber Brown, a faith-based food justice leader, will explore these questions and the opportunities that listening and uncomfortable conversations can provide. Together we’ll explore the politics of strange bedfellows and uneasy alliances, examining partnerships between industry and advocates that widen the scope of possibilities.
Whether the differences center on urban vs. rural, scale and philosophy, race and class, or any other perceived or experienced divide, we face the common challenge of checking our assumptions and engaging in uncomfortable conversations. It takes patience and practice to open ourselves to the kinds of collaboration that shift our food system. At last year’s NESAWG conference we discussed “wicked problems,” gathering over 400 practitioners from across the Northeast to examine the intractable obstacles we face in our food systems. Part provocation, part call to action, this year’s “Humanizing the Food System” conference is an opportunity for everyone interested in going beyond platitudes and purity to explore together how we might construct new relationships that mitigate the “wicked problems” we all know so well.