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Intern Lunch Series – Local Food!

August 10, 2011
RUN AWAY!!! THEY’VE ARRIVED!!!!
Don’t worry… It’s just my text books for this semester. Haha, and not even all of them… In law school the teachers expect to have a normal class on the first day (no syllabus week…). Which means that I have to do my reading for my first week of classes. Luckily, only 3 out of my 5 teachers have posted assignments… so far.
First up is evidence: pages 1-65 in the text and Federal Rules of Evidence 101, 102, 103, 401 and 402. Good thing my Federal Rules of Evidence book is on back-order…
So today I went back to Openlands, the environmental non-profit organization I worked for this summer, for the last of their Intern Lunch Series.
Openlands - conserving nature for life
Every Wednesday for the entire summer Openlands and the Illinois Student Environmental Coalition (ISEC) have been hosting brown-bag lunches for interns at various environmental organizations. Each lunch has had about 3 speakers on a certain topic. Since today’s topic was Local Food and Planning, I just had to come back for it!
(being a creeper picture…)
Today’s lunch featured four different speakers. The first was Josh Ellis, who is the project manager at the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC). MPC works on regional needs and finds solutions for the Chicago Metropolitan region. One of their current projects is working on Public Private Partnerships, or PPPs, which allow the city to contract private firms to do infrastructure work and their hope is that they will be able to do so in creating Bus Rapid Transit, which is a new form of transportation that’s being done in several other cities in which the city uses the current road infrastructure and has specific lanes for these buses, which move more quickly and are more efficient. By using a PPP, the city can ask the private firm to meet certain sustainability or ridership quotas, which could not be done before.
The second speaker was Karen Lehman who is the director of Fresh Taste, which is a funder collaborative that encourages diverse local agriculture and access to healthy, green and affordable food in the Chicago area. They hope to bring leaders together and increase the investment of time and money that will lead to changes in the way food is produced, distributed and consumed in the state.
The third speaker was Glenda Daniel, Associate Director and Community Greening Director at Openlands!
Glenda talked about Opelands’ newest project, HomeGrown Chicago, which is a community vegetable garden training and support program for Chicago residents. They are supporting the local food movement by helping residents clear out vacant lots and start up community gardens. Part of what they do is to help the community come up with a management system and then hopefully apply to NeighborSpace, which is a company that will hold the lease to the land, rather than having it owned by the city. Glenda’s talk was especially inspiring because she told several stories of how the community gardens had changed both the community and people’s lives, constantly stating that food brings people together, which is so true! These people who barely knew each other are now all working together and helping one another live healthier lives!
I also really enjoyed the final speaker: Dave Snyder, Farm Program Coordinator at Uncommon Ground. Uncommon Ground is a local food restaurant with two Chicago locations and they are the first certified organic roof top farm! On the roof of one of their restaurants is a roof top garden, where they grow several varieties of greens and vegetables. The company is also very supportive of local foods and tries to be as green and sustainable as possible. Dave made a comment that they don’t only use recycled paper; they use recycled paper made at a factory powered by windmills! Talk about being green! I’m really excited to try one of their restaurants and maybe even go on a tour of their garden; they give tours every Wednesday!
I also loved going to the lunch because I got to see some of my co-workers! Here’s a picture of Tina and I. I’ve mentioned Tina a few times since she’s the one who suggested taking Power Sculpt at Core Power Yoga. She is also the person at Openlands who has been helping to coordinate all of these lunches over the summer! So a big thank you to Tina for putting in the effort! I sure appreciated it!
The best way I’ve found to support local foods is trying to buy from our farmers markets in the summer. Do you all do anything to support local food? Do you think this is a lasting and important movement, or just a fad?
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