What can you do if you care about the state of our food system ? Become an Activist! Here is how:
Things you can do today:
- Write your elected officials
- Call your local representatives
- Blog! Either start your own or contribute to an existing one.
- Get and Stay Informed! Educate yourself on the issues you care about.
- Tell a friend… or 10!
- Use Facebook! Like/Friend local groups you support and encourage your friends to do the same.
- Buy Local Food. Make a pledge to yourself to put $ into the local food system every month. Encourage your friends and family to do the same.
- Donate $ to a local group whose mission you support.
Here are a few more ways to make a difference:
- Attend meetings at your local food advocacy group
- Write an op-ed piece or letter to the editor
- Join a demonstration
- With your local food advocacy group
- At your local food bank, school, farmer’s market, etc
- Get trained and help educate others in your community
- Start a Farm to School Program in your area
- Be proud of what you can do, and do it. Then do a little more.
The Nitty Gritty- FAQ
How do I find out who my representatives are?
- Check out the government section of your local phone book
- Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224‐3121 or visit http://www.congress.org/congressorg/directory/statedir.tt?lvl=state&state=WA for direct contact information
- Search by state or zip code at www.house.gov and www.senate.gov
(Courtesy of Community Food Security Coalition)
Be prepared! Know what you want to say and how you are going to say it.
Check out the following links for tips, sample letters, emails, and phone scripts (courtesy of Community Food Security Coalition)
Where should I look if I want to get and stay informed on the Farm Bill and the state of US agriculture?
Although this list is by no means extensive, here are a few of our favorite places to look for news and information:
Also, subscribe to/”LIKE” these Facebook pages for more current updates, including information on how to get involved. This also shows these organizations that you support their work, which is very important!
- Northwest Farm Bill Action Group
- Understanding the Farm Bill: A Citizen’s Guide to a Better Food System
- Community Alliance for Global Justice
So, what’s the deal with Blogs?
A blog (a blend of the term web log) is a type of website or part of a website supposed to be updated with new content from time to time (Wikipedia). Blogs are generally updated often, usually everyday, making them a more up-to-date informational platform that most websites. Most blogs are interactive, allowing for user comments and feedback. They are also generally informal, meaning much of the information found on blogs are individual opinions, comment, and feedback rather than academically supported reports.
If you want to START your own blog, check out http://www.howtostartablog.org/ for the step by step How To.
To read or comment on existing blogs check out these, and after a while you are sure to find others you enjoy participating in:
How would I go about writing an op-ed piece or letter to the editor?
Most daily and weekly newspapers accept outside submissions for publication on their opinion pages. Longer than letters to the editor, op-ed pieces generally run between 500 and 700 words.
Here are a couple of tips on writing an op-ed:
- Use short, simple sentences.
- Avoid jargon.
- Explicitly support or oppose something.
- Personalize the op-ed with an anecdote.
- Link the op-ed to a current news story but keep the focus local.
- Follow the particular paper’s guidelines for submission closely.
Try the following outline for your op-ed:
- Start with a personal anecdote.
- Make your main point in the first or second paragraph.
- Begin to elaborate two, maximum three, supporting points in the following paragraphs. Make sure your paragraphs are short and contain one main idea.
- Use facts, statistics and studies to support your arguments. Do not, however, be overly legal. Use metaphors (sports, movies and music work best) to relate complex ideas.
- Conclude with a paragraph that draws the piece together and links to your opening anecdote.
(Courtesy of ACLU)
For the Seattle Times a letter of not more than 200 words can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or send it to: Letters Editor, The Seattle Times, P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111, Fax: (206) 382-6760.
For a comprehensive list of other/local newspapers in Washington State check out http://www.dailyearth.com/USNews/washington.html. From here, follow the links and search the site of your local paper to find out how to send in your op-ed piece!
What is a Farm to School Program, and how would I start one?
Farm to School connects schools (levels kindergarten through 12th grade) and local farms with the objectives of serving more healthful meals in school cafeterias; improving student nutrition; providing agriculture, health and nutrition education opportunities; and supporting local and regional farmers and producers.
Farm to School can include activities such as:
- serving local foods in the cafeteria
- farmer visits to the classroom
- incorporating local foods and agriculture in curriculum
- taste testing
- cooking demonstrations
- farm tours
- waste management programs (e.g., composting)
- hosting farmers markets
- planting school gardens
- incorporating school gardens into physical education curriculum
(Courtesy of Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition)
To get started check out this comprehensive toolkit at http://toolkit.centerfornutrition.org/
Local Food Project Ideas that don’t require Federal $
These projects are intended to increase community food security- this means making healthy, nutritious and culturally appropriate food accessible to all, including low-income people. These projects simultaneously provide and empower communities.
- Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
- Farmer’s Market
- Community Garden
- Farm to School or Farm to Fork Program
- Food Counsels
- Food Drop/Food Bank Programs
- Urban Garden
Ideas for Creative Demonstrations… more ideas coming soon!
Guerilla Theatre and Street Theatre are creative, entertaining ways to protest and demonstrate. Street theatre-esque demonstrations can include “agitprop” (agitation-propaganda), carnival, parades, pageants, political protest, performance art, public gatherings, and publication of art/literary journals. (Wikipedia)