Food Justice and Book Clubs: A Haverford House Update from Sara Ozawa '18
It is safe to say the lull of adjusting to a new year is over, as February has brought much activity in and out of the house.
At the end of January, many of us went to hear Stephanie Keene (CPGC Program Manager for Ethical Global Learning) speak at Uncle Bobbie’s up in Germantown. Stephanie was part of a delegation to Palestine and the members shared reflections on their trip to a room packed with curious community members. The delegates spoke to connections between Palestinian experience under Israeli militarization and the mass incarceration and violence happening on our own soil, and the importance of global connection between Philadelphia and Palestine.
Our first February event took place at Eat Café, where Sabea and the Center for Hunger-Free Communities hosted another session of the Lunch and Learn series. We contemplated, then conversed about food justice and food sovereignty -- what the work to achieve those ends looks like and why these goals are critical in achieving equity for all communities. The strength of Lunch and Learn is its intention to bring together folks with varying interests, focuses, and experiences to share and contribute, and also to absorb and challenge our own understandings and capacities to take action on the topic at hand. Talking about food justice at Eat Café was a beautiful opportunity to interact directly with an organization that is challenging the status quo of what a high-quality restaurant's role can be in this conversation of food access, through employing a model where everyone can be at the table. The house members (sans Callie) went back for their Valentine's Day special!
We had a potluck that same weekend to celebrate my birthday, which was a very wholesome experience that led to much eating, chatting, and dancing. My heart felt full – I feel immense gratitude for all the folks who have made Philly feel like home these past couple of years and it was a true gift to bring so many people I love and admire together under the roof of our House.
The next week we had our first session at the House with Eric Hartman’s (CPGC Executive Director) Planetary Health class, which is why all of the House members had been carrying Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass around town with them for the past month or so. It was a rewarding first session – participating in class is much more fun when you’re not actually a student, as it turns out, and it has been fun finding ourselves discussing the book during commutes and meals… It’s much like the Free Library’s One Book, One Philadelphia, which strives to promote one book each year with the hopes that it can be a point of discussion amongst folks across the city. Many of us have attended programming/events through 1B1P and would highly recommend! We are now all starting to read Emergent Strategy, by adrienne maree brown for next month’s session.
We also had TriCo Philly folks over for dinner, following one of their many amazing Philly excursions. It was wonderful to hear about how the program is going – it’s a valuable experience many of us would’ve loved to have had during our time at Haverford! We also connected back with Beyond the Bell folks for a tour with Haverford students organized by Gabe Halperin-Goldstein '19 on behalf of the Marilou Allen Office of Service and Community Collaboration.
Continuing the theme around food-related topics, we hosted a Food Values Workshop the following day, facilitated by Isy Abraham-Raveson, sister of Sophia Abraham-Raveson ’18, which was extremely constructive and fruitful. Food is a part of our daily experience, yet meaningful discussion around food is hardly experienced in our lives. This workshop was an incredibly important opportunity to intentionally consider the relationship to food we construct in our lives, defined by externalities including: how our parents relate and interact with food, the prolific media we consume both actively and passively that commentate on our consumption of food, science-based theories and recommendations which are problematically constrained by universal ideas of what bodies should look like, and increased corporate control of the foods we even have access to. In light of this reflection, we were able to redefine our own personal food-related definitions and goals for health. Thanks to everyone who came out! And keep an eye out for more amazing work by Isy who is now facilitating bi-weekly sexuality education at Puentes de Salud thanks to Callie's coordination, and also has a children’s book about consent coming out soon.
At Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, February has been in full frenzy mode in preparation for the Philadelphia Flower Show (March 1-11) amongst other things. This will be my first Flower Show and I’m eager to see what the hype is about! You can find me helping out at the Make-and-Take area. The seasons are shifting and I am eager to get my hands dirty again out at the gardens. Keep an eye out for more exciting events at Haverford House, including our rendition of Stephanie Keene’s Social Justice Film Series. Our first screening/discussion will be on March 30th, on All of Me about Las Patronas, a group who singlehandedly cook 300 meals a day as provisions for folks crossing the border into the U.S. We will have Professors Veronica Montes and Jennifer Vargas (both joining us from Bryn Mawr), Nicole Bañales, a Swarthmore grad participating in the Quaker Voluntary Service and working Juntos, and members of the Bi-Co Migrants’ Rights Coalition joining us. Keep posted for another special guest. Subjects that may come up include:
- Histories of migration and the current context of why immigration is happening
- Stories of immigration
- The importance of grassroots, community-led work that is often left unacknowledged or deemed informal or invalid
- Food as testament to and celebration of cultural perseverance and identity
- Work happening in Philadelphia surrounding migrants’ rights
Hope to see you there.
Apologies for the rather lengthy post, but it’s indicative of how we’ve been hitting our stride out here at HH and hopefully provides insights into some of the work we do!
- Sara Ozawa '18, Fellow at Pennsylvania Horticultural Society