Radical [Re]Constructions: Farm-To-Table For All

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Brief History of Radical [Re]Construction of Values Workshop Series

In 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. lifted the veil on the life of ‘The Other America’, revealing the stark reality of dualism that pervades our country and the “daily ugliness...that transforms the buoyancy of hope into the fatigue of despair’ for the African-American community.  The City of Chicago exemplifies a “tale of two cities”: one of them safe and prosperous, the other dangerous and poor - and both of them growing more so. In response to the growing disparities, Sweet Water Foundation launched a year long workshop series called “Radical [Re]Construction of Values.” Radical meaning of or returning to the root and [Re]Construction pertaining to the rebuilding of our communities and our collective values. The workshop series is centered on stimulating dialogue that challenges political propaganda and rhetoric surrounding “chronic urban problems,” "urban gun violence,” “hypersegregation” that plague the City of Chicago and dozens of other cities across the country. Through monthly workshops community leaders, local residents, and visitors from across the country engage in conversation about the policies and institutions that were built (or not built) to serve them, and how those policies and institutions, and values  can be [Re]Constructed and revolutionized.

What is Work?

On Saturday, July 14, a group of more than twenty-five individuals gathered in Sweet Water Foundation’s Think-Do House for a thoughtful discussion about work. What does it mean to work? What are the realities workers (regardless of employment status) must confront? Most importantly, how does labor intersect with other aspects of life such as housing, wellbeing, and wellness? People invested in the stability and prosperity of the community joined SWF to tackle these questions, and more.

The conversation was profound and displayed SWF’s extensive and growing network. Participants joined us from across the globe.  Stephen Haymes, a Professor of International Studies at DePaul University, brought two colleagues from Colombia; Sandra and Giovani, teachers who talked about the importance of inclusion and connectivity between educators. Yash Kumbhat, a summer intern from Harvard College, discussed his brief work with solar panels and rural communities in his hometown of Kolkata, India. Charlotte Blackwell, a member of the James and Grace Lee Bogg Center in Detroit, spoke about urban planning and the dissemination of information and resources within communities

Their stories showed us that, despite their diverse and seemingly disconnected backgrounds, there are issues that unite us as we attempt to rebuild marginalized communities and reverse the process of erasure.

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Breaking Bread: Farm-to-Table for All

After introductions, the group broke off into groups for tours, smaller conversations, and contemplation, ultimately gathering in the Thought Barn for a farm-to-table lunch prepared by Resident Chef, Mama Betty. A key component of the Radical [Re]Constructions Workshop Series is creating spaces of equity where all are welcome to share and engage in important conversations and decisions, regardless of background. Sharing meals are one of the many ways Sweet Water Foundation creates spaces of equity. Farm-to-Table experiences are often designed for "elite" individuals. On this day, the Thought Barn democratized the farm-to-table experience, welcoming all to share their values and experiences. The day led to new and strengthened connections. As we continue to tackle the process of Radically [Re]Constructing our values and communities, our network of like-minded individuals is growing and strengthening.

Courtney Hug