I am increasingly interested in the ways in which various forms of public engagement can help facilitate change in our food systems. Certainly these forms of interaction throw up surprises both in terms of critical topical insights, but also in the ways they recalibrate what I understand as being accepted knowledge.
My most recent effort at engagement is to host a hearing for the Fabian Society for a commission on Food and Poverty, which will take place on 27 January 2015. The aim of the commission is to influence government action on the topic of food poverty in the UK. My aim, is linked, but also to continue to create critical buzz and to further momentum around the work that is being done both in research but also the public sphere on the important topic of food poverty and to strengthen and extend the connectivities within the network of interested parties within the region.
Within Sheffield and indeed the larger Yorkshire region, there is a critical mass of parties interested and working toward a better food system. This includes public sector actors, voluntary organisations, researchers and private citizens. What has become clear to me over the last year is the lack of connectivity within this network of actors. People know each other as little network clusters, but linking into and being able to visualise the whole of that network is still very difficult to realise. I’m not sure what the answer is, but I do know that providing repeated opportunities for people within this network to interact is not a waste of time, as I see with each event new connections being made between those within the group, which in turn produces new possibilities for innovative collaboration.
It is also clear to me that at some point the critical action occurring at the local scale, must inform and interact politics and action at the national and international scales. While the specificities and sometimes the agendas will vary from place to place, there is a need for the development of case studies that demonstrate and elaborate good practice. These case studies then need to be communicated widely in order for the innovations inherent within each case to diffuse to other networks and places.
If you would like to attend the hearing, it is on 27/1/2015. Tickets are available here.
There will also be further blog posts and a storify from the event. I will post the links as they become available. We will be using the following hashtags for the event if you want to follow on Twitter. #foodandpoverty #FeedingBritain
UPDATE: Please see the storify here, which includes videos of the main speakers.
If you look through the door of my pantry you will see a window into my world. My pantry expresses my likes and dislikes and my cultural background by the presence and absence of certain goods. You will also see that in my house, we are not hungry. I have been hungry in the past. I plan against this by stocking up for the possibility that there might come a day when I might not have money. It isn’t an entirely rational approach to domestic food provisioning as it is a practice that produces waste. But, I always know where my next meal is coming from. And I also know I am lucky to be able to be so potentially wasteful. My household budget is shaped by my past experience of hunger. I am sure I am not alone, but for some reason hunger is not a fashionable term these days. What is that all about?
The hour just after sunrise and the one again before sunset are the Golden Hours according to photography wisdom. They are golden because the light is apparently softer and the shadows are fewer… or something. These technical aspects of photography are not really my thing, I must confess. I do know that the weather can influence the colours of sunrise and sunset. I also know that while the visual effects are beautiful, the physical effects of the weather can be catastrophic for those affected by it, and often those most affected are the poor. Continue reading →
Hong Kong is a city of views. Upon arriving in Hong Kong one is assaulted with the image of the famous skyline. This commanding perspective offers a view of the top both literally and figuratively, if we also consider that much of that skyline represents the global circulation of things and money. Populated with 294 buildings over 150m tall (35-40 floors), and 2,354 buildings over 100m tall (New York only has 794), the city handily wins as being the place with the most opportunity to look down from above. But what do you see when you look down? Continue reading →
Dim Sum. Photo taken at street food vendor in Mong Konk.
This photo is of steamer baskets containing dim sum. Dim sum are roughly translated as little bites, and can be savoury or sweet. My favorites are Char Sui Bao, Shu Mai, and Jin Dui. Char Sui Bao are white buns filled with bar-b-que pork. Shu Mai look like a large thimble or very small basket out of some sort of yellow dough and filled with either shrimp or pork filling. Continue reading →
There is a shortage of housing in Hong Kong. Actually, there seems to be building all the time and new flats are being regularly put on the market, but they are expensive. Indeed a trawl through the real estate adverts reveals a less than 500sq foot flat (1 bedroom) that is on sale for just over $10 million (HK), which when you do the conversion is a bit under $1.3 million US. This is not a particularly spectacular flat in a particularly spectacular location. This is about normal. It will rent for about $31,000 per month (about $4,000 US/£2,500), which is also normal. The thing is, according to the last census, nearly 60% of the population earns less than $25,000 (HK) per month. In fact, if you think about it, to get a mortgage for this ONE BEDROOMED flat, you would need to earn in excess of $100,000 (HK) per month, quite a bit in excess. The same census figures reveal that less than 5% of Hong Kong’s population earns more than this. There is a numbers problem here. So what do people do? Continue reading →