As spring unfolds into summer, the world suddenly pulses with startling energy.
In California, the season came on as a howling green wave, thanks to the record-breaking winter rains.
But here, as all over the country, nature’s extravagance was nearly outshouted by the eruption of activism brought on by political disruption. What started with the Women’s March in January, an occasion many hold as a peak event, crested again on April 22.
I remember clearly the same day back in 1970 when I went with my high school friends to be counted among the masses bearing witness as the modern environmental movement and Earth Day were born hand-in-hand on the National Mall in Washington, DC. It was a call to action, and a call not heeded nearly enough. Now, with climate change denialists holding power in Washington, Earth Day is recharged and grows more vital.
It might have been the plum gorgeous weather here that brought everyone out on Earth Day 2017, although I would like to think it was the March for Science. It was hard to turn a corner in the East Bay without running into one or another grassroots gathering complete with workshops, demos, and activists organizing around far more than planting trees. Free seedlings, offered like party favors, were as much symbols of hope for humanity as for re-greening the earth.
Turning the page into summer, it seems that a new march for things that matter materializes weekly. As each appears, I have noticed how the subjects tend to weave in and around concerns regarding our food systems, not only how food is produced on our fragile planet, but who owns and runs the systems, how food workers are valued, and who is served (in all its meanings).
Here at Edible East Bay, we always celebrate the bounty of the season, but in the spirit of these times, we went on some longer walks this issue with several of our contributors who have been asking questions about our food systems, looking for different answers, and making unique choices. In particular, Jessica Prentice, our writer since spring 2010 of the “Seven Stars” column, turned to a new subject: It’s one that has been very much on her mind, namely, the system of governance at Three Stone Hearth, the community-supported kitchen she co-founded and co-owns in Berkeley. It’s a cooperative business that strives to spread the rewards among the company’s workers rather than funneling profits to upper management and investors. Jessica’s article turned into a force, drawing in three related articles that look at local food co-ops and statewide food
So now, with your copy of Edible East Bay in hand, and that coy watermelon on the cover whispering of sweetness to come later this summer, please lend an ear to these stories. Among other things, you’ll be hearing about people who are working to create and sustain businesses that prize equity and community-building, and serve as powerful models for food systems nationwide.
Here’s to a productive summer season. Get out in the orchard and stretch for the high-hanging fruit. It’s good exercise, and it might make all the difference.
Cheryl Angelina Koehler