intentions of a fellow

last night i landed for the first night of this 18 month process of being a BALLE fellow, continuing my work with the detroit food justice task force.

this opportunity came to me from someone who had been aware of my work and my love of detroit, and saw a connection i didn’t see. BALLE is a network of networks focused on growing ‘local living economies’, encouraging businesses and organizations to deepen and center the value on life, health, place and sustainability in their idea of business success. with this fellowship, i get to work with the task force to build skills around growing a local living food economy in detroit.

i am going on four years of living in detroit, seven years of loving what is and could be in the city. the initial awe and rush has passed, and more and more i see the scale of healing and work really needed. this work needs to be done with intention. here are my intentions as i begin this part of the journey:

to attend to the body. this effort is a way to nourish the living bodies of detroit – the baby bodies, elder bodies, activist bodies, mama bodies, worker bodies, wounded bodies. i intend that we who are constantly made aware of the toxic environment are given nourishment, and to begin that, that i do this work in a way that nourishes me.

to be creative. so much of our work in detroit is defensive, with communities, individuals and land under constant attack. being creative in those conditions can seem impossible, and yet it is precisely the reason why communities have survived in detroit these past few decades. fortunately i work with immensely creative and hardworking people. i will bring back the skills i learn and figure out creative ways to apply that to the brilliance already afoot in the city.

to be undaunted by the idea of citywide success. i dream of 700k people with access to and desire for healthy local food, one block, one neighborhood, one school at a time. i believe it is young people who will make this desirable.

to document everything so this can be a model in practice for other cities, and so other folks in detroit can see what we are attempting and learning.

to reach beyond the choirs. there are choirs everywhere – activist choirs, entrepreneur choirs, worker choirs, artist choirs. i hope this work allows people to see that there are so many pieces of the solution for the city, that we must learn to heal together, work together, have tension with each other, be honest with each other, grow together – that where we can bring together sweat, analysis, vision and justice, we can begin to inhabit a future that is abundant, that serves us all.

to be interconnected. food is a beginning place for me, a thriving place for detroit, and it connects to every other aspect of survival, depends on so many other shifts. i will stay complex.

to be accountable. the task force has done beautiful work of naming assumptions, growing vision, constantly returning to the focus on community rather than organization, movement rather than program. i see myself as a part of that whole in this process, bringing my learnings back to be integrated into the efforts and vision and work of the task force.

wish me luck, and please continue connecting me with folks who share these passions!