Hey everyone, its Aman, Donte, and Tammy coming to share a little about what we did and learned in Philadelphia, PA. As some of you may know we attended the youth-led 13th annual Rooted in Community Conference hosted by the awesome activist at the Urban Nutrition Initiative. The five day conference consisted of building our knowledge, learning how use this new found knowledge, then marching the streets of Philadelphia to promote the Youth Food Bill of Rights we created. We hope this day-to-day general overview will give you a sense of the awesome work that we were proud to be a part of. Also stay tuned for our individual stories to also help enlighten you on our personal experiences and insight we got from the trip. Hope you enjoy this little bit of brain food!
Day one of the conference we walked to the University of Pennsylvania campus, where we would stay for the duration of the conference, and got registered. We were greeted by the warm and enthusiastic Urban Nutrition Initiative crew who showed lots of love to everyone. As we waited for the rest of the organizations to filter in we signed up for our field trips and workshops that were going to be held the next day. We were also interviewed Flip’s media team, which would document the entire RIC conference. As more people started to come through we started to play games and started to introduce ourselves to our peers. After most of the crews had shown up we were then lead by a drill team to Houston Hall where we would eat dinner. There we were would split into our groups, which were decided by the sticker on the back of your name tag, and set norms for our group and for the conference.
Day two of the conference was action-packed as we went on field trips to different gardening areas throughout Philly. We went to a field where we listened to the Rebel Gardeners talk. These Rebel Gardeners were a group of middle school students who gardened at their school and shared granola bars with us which the ingredients were harvested in their garden. These granola bars would be a good source of energy for Donte, Aman, and Stephany as we were all going on a bike ride to Mill Creek Garden while Tammy was going to MLK High School. Some of the things we saw on our garden field trips included composting toilets, solar panels, beehives, and green roofs.
After Stephany had recovered enough from her heat exhaustion, on our bike ride back from Mill Creek Garden, we then had free time and met up at Houston Hall a little bit later to go to our first workshop. These first round of workshops were to help us understand in a deeper context some of the food injustices in our food system. Our second workshop after fifteen minutes later was about how we organize as youth to continue our movement in our communities.After filling our bellies at the BBQ
Day three of the conference Donte, Aman, and Tammy worked on the Youth Food Bill of Rights in the morning. All the youth broke into their groups again and brainstormed about what we wanted to see in their food system. Check out this list to what we youth wanted (http://www.youthfoodbillofrights.com/)! After finishing putting together the Youth Food Bill of Rights, we then went into our “Express your Voice for Food Justice” workshops. These workshops were art based and included poetry, cooking comedy, theatre of the oppressed, as well as others. These would be preformed the next day at the Youth Food Bill of Rights Declaration and would give insight on just what we saw and what we wanted to change in our food system.
After spending many hours on the Youth Food Bill of Rights and art workshops we were definitely looking forward to free time. Aman, Donte, and Tammy went to a local shopping mall, called The Gallery, with some local Philly youth as our guides.When we arrived at the Community Potluck after coming back from The Gallery, not only were we tired but were also hungry. The food they served at the potluck was delicious but was rudely interrupted by wind, rain, and thunder. As Seattleites this really didn’t bother us as we need some relief from the hot weather in Philly.
Day four of the conference was all about Declaration of the Youth Food Bill of Rights. After some final editing and revising of the Bill and some much important photos, this big movement was headed on the streets in the name of Food Justice. With our picket signs in hand and chants being yelled, it was quiet an experience for us youth involved. The unity and energy that we showed, even though the sun we were being baked by the sun, was also impressive to be apart of. The performances that we had rehearsed the day before were now being preformed and the Youth Food Bill of Rights was also read. It was powerful to declare the Youth Food Bill of Rights in the same place were the Declaration of Independence was signed because we both were fighting a over
The final day of the conference was all about reflecting, with our regional groups, about what we learned from all these other amazing youth and how to keep these movements going in our communities. We also picked three of the declarations in the Youth Food Bill of Rights that we would directly try and change as soon as we got back home. We also got to watch the unofficial video that Flip put together of the RIC conference. The video really touched everyone who was in the room because it really captured the essence of what this food justice movement and RIC was all about. After we finished watching the video we then headed outside and were part of a giant group hug. We then said our final goodbyes to the friends we made in Philly, giving our phone numbers and email addresses so that we can stay connected with other youth in our fight for food justice.
The insight we got from the conference really gave us a vision of where we want to head as a program. To think that no one has started some of these things already in such a “progressive and green” city really shocked us when we reflected on it. We came back to Seattle as trailblazers because a lot of the changes we want to see aren’t happening in our communities and as a youth-lead group it really speaks volumes of what we are trying to do not only locally but nationally as well.