Community Organizing

54: Niaz Dorry on organizing for land food and sea food, and organizing at the speed of trust

Niaz Dorry moved to Glauster, Massachusetts, the oldest settled fishing port in the United States, in 1994, and she has been working with small-scale, traditional, and indigenous fishing communities in the U.S. and around the globe ever since.  After a working as an environmental justice organizer in Greanpeace’s toxics campaigns, she started working on fisheries issues.  She’s been organizing with the fishing families of the North Atlantic Marie Alliance since 2008,  advancing the rights and ecological benefits of the small-scale fishing communities as a means of protecting global marine biodiversity. This year, NAMA and the National Family Farm Coalition decided to join forces and share leadership, with Niaz as their director.  She is currently on a national tour of farms and fishing communities to kick of this joint effort.  I spoke with Niaz just before she left on tour.

53: Janaki Jagannath on an ecological approach to environmental justice in the San Joaquin Valley

Janaki Jagannath is the former Coordinator at the Community Alliance for Agroecology, a coalition of community-based organizations in the San Joaquin Valley of California that work to advance agricultural and environmental policy towards justice for communities bearing the burden of California’s food system. Prior to this, she worked at California Rural Legal Assistance in Fresno, enforcing labor standards and environmental justice protections such as access to clean drinking water for farmworker communities. Janaki has assisted in curriculum development for the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems degree at UC Davis and has farmed diversified and orchard crops across the state, including conducting training at the Refugee Entrepreneurial Agriculture Project in San Diego County. Janaki holds a B.S. in Agricultural Development from UC Davis and a producers’ certification in Ecological Horticulture from UC Santa Cruz Center for Agroecology. She is currently pursuing her J.D. at King Hall.  In this episode, Janaki talks to Devon about organizing in the San Joaquin Valley, building movements in the legacy of the United Farm Workers, and an ecological approach to environmental justice.

47: Severine von Tscharner Fleming on young farmers, emerging models for food and land sovereignty, and building a commons for the future of farming

Severine von Tscharner Fleming is a part-time farmer, activist, and organizer based in the Champlain Valley of New York. She is director of Greenhorns, a grassroots organization with the mission to recruit, promote and support the rising generation of new farmers in America. Severine has spent the last seven years gathering, bundling and broadcasting the voices and vision of young agrarians. Greenhorns runs a weekly radio show on Heritage Radio Network and a popular blog. They produce many kinds of media, from documentary films to almanacs, anthologies, mix-tapes, posters, guidebooks and digital maps. They are best known the documentary film, “The Greenhorns” and the raucous young farmer mixers they've thrown in 37 states and 14 grange halls. Severine is co-founder and board secretary of  Farm Hack, an online, open-source platform for appropriate and affordable farm tools and technologies , as well as National Young Farmers Coalition which now boasts 23 state and regional coalitions.  She serves on the board of the Schumacher Center for New Economics, which hosts Agrarian Trust, her latest startup, focused on land access for beginning farmers, and permanent protection of affordable organic farmland. Severine attended Pomona College and University of California at Berkeley, where she graduated with a B.S. in Conservation/ Agroecology.  In this episode, Severine talks with Devon about young farmers, emerging models for food and land sovereignty, and building a commons for the future of farming.

45: Sandor Katz on the creative the creative tactics and community of Act Up, the modern relevance of ancient food traditions, and migrating from the city to the country.

Sandor Ellix Katz is a fermentation revivalist.  Since publishing Wild Fermentation in 2003, he has taught hundreds of workshops demystifying fermentation and empowering people to reclaim this transformational process in their kitchens.  The New York Times calls him “one of the unlikely rock starts of the American food scene.” Sandor grew up in New York City, where during the 1980s he was an activist with, demanding medical and research resources to address the AIDS epidemic. He migrated from New York City to a commune in rural Tennessee in 1993 after testing positive for HIV.  He now lives down the road from the commune and travels the world teaching fermentation.  He published The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved (2006), a book about food activists and underground fermentors he met on his tours of fermentation workshops, and The Art of Fermentation (2012), an encyclopedic volume that won a James Beard award. In this episode, Sandor talks with Devon about the creative tactics and community of Act Up, the modern relevance of ancient food traditions

photo by Kate Berry

44: The Peoples Kitchen Collective on nourishing a beloved community, from the farm to the kitchen to the table to the street

The People's Kitchen Collective (PKC) works at the intersection of art and activism as a food-centered political education project and cooperative business. Based in Oakland, California, their creative practices reflect the diverse histories and background of collective members Sita Kuratomi Bhaumik, Jocelyn Jackson, and Saqib Keval. Written in their family's recipes are maps of migrations and the stories of resilience. It is from this foundation that they create immersive experiences that celebrate centuries of shared struggle. Collectively cooking and sharing food is sanctified and celebrated community work in many cultures. With the passage of time, systems of imperialism--including capitalism and gentrification--have turned cooking into an inaccessible burden. In response to this inequality PKC has been creating accessible, healthy, and loving food spaces since 2007. Active in Oakland since 2011, they are committed to using local and organic ingredients whenever possible and sharing meals with as many people as we can. The goal of The People's Kitchen Collective is to not only fill stomachs but also nourish souls, feed minds, and fuel a movement.  In this episode, PKC talks with Chelsea about nourishing a radical, beloved community, and feeding movement from the farm to the kitchen to the table to the street. 

26: Sita Bhaumik on the People’s Kitchen Collective, decolonizing foods and remedies, and magical ingredients that travel the world

Sita Kuratomi Bhaumik is an artist, writer, and educator who understands art as a strategy to connect personal and public histories. Her research focuses on decolonizing the hierarchy of the senses and impact of migration. Raised in Los Angeles and based in Oakland, she is Indian and Japanese Colombian American. Sita holds a B.A. in Studio Art from Scripps College, an M.F.A. in interdisciplinary art and an M.A. in Visual and Critical Studies from California College of the Arts. She is a founding member of the People's Kitchen Collective in Oakland, California along with Jocelyn Jackson and Saqib Keval. Together, they produce community meals that narrate our migration. The goal of The People's Kitchen is to not only fill our stomachs but also nourish our souls, feed our minds and fuel a movement. In this episode, Sita talks with Chelsea about the People’s Kitchen Collective, decolonizing foods and remedies, and magical ingredients that travel the world.

25: Anna Lappé on the connections between food systems and climate change, the myth that we need toxic chemicals to feed the world, and the growing influence of the food movement

Anna Lappé is a bestselling author and widely respected educator, known for her work as an expert on food systems and as a sustainable food advocate. She is the co-author or author of three books and the contributing author to ten others. Anna’s work has been translated internationally and featured in The New York Times, Gourmet, Oprah Magazine, among many other outlets. Named one of TIME magazine’s “eco” Who’s-Who, Anna is a founding principal of the Small Planet Institute and the Small Planet Fund with her mother, Frances Moore Lappé. She is also the founder and director of the Real Food Media Project, which uses creative movies, an online movie contest, a web-based action center, and grassroots events to grow the movement for sustainable food and farming. Her latest book, Diet for a Hot Planet: The Climate Crisis at the End of Your Fork and What You Can Do About It, was named by Booklist and Kirkus as one of the best environmental books of the year. Anna is also the co-author of Hope’s Edge, which chronicles doc ial movements fighting hunger around the world, and Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen, showcasing the ecological and social benefits of sustainable food with seasonal menus from chef Bryant Terry.  In this episode, Anna speaks with Chelsea about the connections between food systems and climate change, debunking the myth that we need toxic chemicals to feed the world, and food movement’s growing influence in popular politics.


August 15

24: Saru Jayaraman on the struggle for pay and working conditions in restaurants, innovative collaborations in labor organizing, and why people who like good food should care about labor politics

Saru Jayaraman is the Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC-United) and Director of the Food Labor Research Center at University of California, Berkeley. After 9/11, together with displaced World Trade Center workers, she co-founded ROC in New York, organizing restaurant workers to win workplace justice campaigns, conduct research and policy work, partner with responsible restaurants, and launch cooperatively-owned restaurants. ROC now has 10,000 members in 19 cities nationwide. The story of Saru and ROC is chronicled in the book The Accidental American. Saru is a graduate of Yale Law School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She was profiled in the New York Times "Public Lives" section in 2005, and was named one of Crain's "40 Under 40" in 2008, 1010 WINS's "Newsmaker of the Year," and one of New York Magazine's "Influentials" of New York City. Saru co-edited The New Urban Immigrant Workforce, and wrote Behind the Kitchen Door, and, most recently, Forked: A New Standard for American Dining. In this episode, Saru talks with Chelsea about the struggle for pay and decent working conditions in restaurants, the ROC’s innovative collaborations in labor organizing, and the reasons people who like good food should care about labor politics.

17: Antonio Roman-Alcalá on coming out of DIY culture, pushing institutions, and transforming the food system at multiple scales

Antonio Roman-Alcalá is a food activist, gardener, teacher and scholar.  In 2005, with a group of friends, he broke into a vacant lot by the freeway in the southern part of San Francisco to start Alemany Farm.  He has taught Ecological Horticulture there and at many other food projects.  He managed a food justice project and garden at San Francisco’s Potrero Hill public housing and organized the San Francisco Urban Agriculture Alliance.  He made a movie called In Search of Good Food, and worked on forming the California Food Policy Council.  He was part of Occupy the Farm.  He recently got a masters degree at the Institute for Social Studies at the Hague for research on Food Sovereignty.  His current project is a book called entitled An antidogmatist's guide to food systems, and how to change them. He will be writing the book blog post by blog post, and you can read it as Antonio writes it at -- starting soon in the spring of 2016.  He is a musician and new father, and lives in San Francisco with his family.  Antonio talks with Chelsea about coming out of DIY culture, pushing institutions, and transforming the food system at multiple scales.

12: Liz Carlisle on The Lentil Underground, farmers as innovators and scientists, and the links between soils, markets, and vibrant rural communities.

Liz Carlisle is the author of The Lentil Underground, a story of organic conversion and community organizing in the northern Great Plains.  Her book follows a group of farmers from very different ideological backgrounds as they revolt against industrial agriculture, diversify their farms, build soil, and come together to form new markets for their products. Liz holds a Ph.D. in Geography from UC Berkeley, and lectures at Stanford and UC Berkeley.  She is a Montana native, former country singer/songwriter and legislative aid to Senator Jon Tester of Montana.  In this episode, Liz talks to Devon about The Lentil Underground, farmers as innovators and scientists, and the links between soils, markets, and vibrant rural communities.

8: Michelle Glowa on urban gardens as a space for re-imagening the city

Michelle Glowa is an assistant professor in Anthropology and Social Change department at CIAS in San Francisco. Her research interests include critical political ecology, urban social movements, and agri-food studies. Her work uses interdisciplinary frameworks to explore the dynamics between activists engaged in changing the landscapes of cities and food systems and the contemporary institutions with which they interact. Michelle approaches her research with over a decade of experience working with food justice and urban agriculture organizing in the United States and Mexico. Specifically, she focuses on the dynamics of land access and property rights, shifting land use and development, in food justice organizing. Michelle received her B.S. in Natural Resource Management and Political Science from Colorado State University and her PhD in Environmental Studies from University of California Santa Cruz. In this episode, Chelsea talks with Michelle about the role of urban gardens in re-imagining and reshaping cities.