My time in Mexico was nothing short of miraculous and special. I learned and grew so much through the great number of both exceptional and ordinary experiences that I had. My journey was a reality because of the ridiculous amount of support that I was provided. I am grateful for having the opportunity because through it I gained a deep confidence in my expanding love and insights into the intersection between the kitchen, community, and learning. I am inspired by this union because it is important to the health and life of every community.
By the end of my short 10 month journey in Mexico, I knew that I could travel all around the world and I would find places that food, community and learning come together. I could continue to explore these ideas by dropping in other peoples communities – but I felt driven to return to the land that I feels roots in and tied to, and offer my learning back. I know that I am not going to find the same relationship to food here in the Great Lakes Region as I did in Mexico, but I do know that there are people everywhere working very hard to create community spaces and projects that respond to food security and health and wellness needs, and often in creative and pioneering ways. So I have faith that with my deep love and curiosity for the really cool ways that people organize, there are folks that I can collaborate with here. I returned from my journey motivated to participate in the movement that uses food to make awesome spaces that creatively facilitate learning, break the isolation of our imposed social organization, and make the world I want to live in.
I see giving back as the way to honour the lessons and love that were poured into me from so many folks while I tagged along to family functions, sat and met many market Señoras, and enjoyed spontaneous gifts – like the surprise small town wedding that I got invited to. I feel the responsibility to share it all back out, so that all those great people in Mexico that invested their time and energy inviting me into their spaces, did so for a purpose greater than it just being a cool experience that I had.
I have learned through my foundational experiences of participating in community spaces, that the success of a community project is connected to how much it really is a collective experience, something that wells up and springs from the expression and dreams of a community. Horizontal and rooted in relationship, successful projects are not something that an expert (self-appointed or otherwise) flies in and imposes, or does, or creates for other people. If you want to do good work – live it, don’t do it, especially to other people.
I am inspired by the possibility of how we can build health and healthy community through focusing on ways that we feed each other, eat together, and learn from each other. I know that we can flourish when we connect with the land, cultivate our sustenance, and decolonize our diets. Decolonizing is something that many of us are working to do in many aspects of our lives, and food is a foundational part of that work. When I refer to decolonizing I understand this concept to refer to the work of extracting our lives and those of our communities, from being designed by colonial and capitalist values. Values that organize us so that we are each meeting our needs for life in repetitively isolated ways.
My interest in community food justice and food freedom is also formed by my interest in alternatives to education. I understand education as a socially constructed institution, and in a similar way to the organization of our systems for food production, I am interested in exploring critiques of the traditional colonial and capitalist systems of education and visions of what is possible. The challenge is to design our lives and the possibilities in our communities that bring us into collaboration and harmony. I like to do that through education and food.
I think that doing good work necessitates us doing our our personal work, but real change – revolution- must be collectively driven. Social transformation and peace will not be realized by the altered circumstances of individuals. I am not interested in finding an oasis, I’m interested in the ocean.
I have very few answers but I have a lot of inspiration and a lot of questions. The dedication that I feel is a result of nourishing my unique soul and viewpoint, and the faith that I have that learning and creating the world we want to live in can be the actual contribution that we make. My journey was my way of further exploring the ways that we can learn in community. I think that we can ask experts rather than professionals to support us, and learn through hands on engagement. That is what I sought to do. Learning because we are curious is one place to start, but so much more is possible if the values that govern the world we want to live in, inform the methods and organization of our daily life – and that includes what and how we learn.
So what’s next…well a whole lot of interesting things! Stay tuned.