Group projects are typically a source of anxiety and apathy in the minds of college students. However, the idea that our group project had the potential to make an impact on the students at UW, the community in Seattle, and discuss the political implications of a global problem was enough. We faced a series of roadblocks, yet we were able to put together a project that both engaged the community while starting conversations about a global issue and political pathways to become involved in a solution.
I’ve been inspired by this in that I now know about political engagement and civic organization, and I can see myself pursuing something along those lines for a future career. I already knew I wanted to go into communications but now I think that I want to do communications for a nonprofit, or a public policy group. It was definitely difficult, but the conversations I had with students and knowing that I educated people about a topic that affects people all over the world made the entire ordeal completely worth it.
Our focus on food deserts came about through what we learned in class about income disparity and food justice. We read a lot about how to battle the rise of unhealthy processed foods, but the answer was almost always individualism, suggesting that individual choices could almost be a substitute for democracy (Pollan). How do you solve these problems and put in farmer’s markets and grocery stores without leading to gentrification and the ultimate pushing out of the communities you’re trying to help in the first place? If it’s all tied up into one interdependent socio-political system, it must be solved as such (Lecture 4/10). The connection between global and local is so important because it allows us to see and understand the problem, but then gives us an incentive to act and help our community. Without action, the “perpetual growth and the cycle of production and consumption” will continue to deny people of affordable, nutritional food (Robbins, 210).
Illustration: Shirley Cannon
One of the best ways to engage an audience and inspire action is to educate on a global issue and then center it in a community close to the audience. The students we engaged with during our tabling session now have the tools to make a positive impact and work towards a global culture of food justice.