Archive for November, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, your families, friends and neighbors. Wishing you all a wonderful day of community and sharing.

Here is a great article for Thanksgiving reading and contemplating the way we cook and eat around this holiday, and how it can help improve our eating habits to make them more sustainable throughout the year: Written by Tamar Adler, an op-ed author for The New York Times, “Thanksgiving Thrift: The Holiday as a Model for Sustainable Cooking”

This training is focused more broadly on the topic of environmental advocacy, however, I thought this would be a great resource for anyone who is looking to strengthen their advocacy and communication skills!


Communications for DC Advocates

On November 16th at 10:00 AM, join the DC Environmental Network for a special opportunity to polish your advocacy skills and learn about a new resource available to help guide your efforts to influence decision makers here in the District of Columbia.  Susie Cambria, a public policy consultant, will share more than 15 years of experience working on public policy and budget advocacy issues and talk about her new book, “Communications for DC Advocates: How-to’s and Lessons Learned Over 15 Years.”

RSVP Here & Learn More About Communications!


As environmental advocates in the District of Columbia it is often necessary to communicate our story and ideas to decision makers and the staff they work with. We communicate in many ways including through letters, meetings, fact sheets and briefings, to name a few. We often ask ourselves questions like (partial):

  • What is the best way to write a letter to the Mayor or DC Council member?
  • How do I prepare and deliver testimony and statements for the record?
  • How do I create a fact sheet?
  • What is the best structure for a meeting with an elected official or their staff?

Susie Cambria will share her insights and experiences that have made her one of the most effective advocates walking the halls of the John A. Wilson Building.  She will talk about the communications tools outlined in her new book, “Communications for DC Advocates” designed to give advocates a fundamental advantage when they walk into the legislative offices of our decision makers.

About Susie Cambria:

“The guide reflects the years of experience I have in advocacy and the many lessons learned doing public policy and budget advocacy work nationally, in Connecticut and most extensively in the District of Columbia.

I have more than 15 years of experience in DC Children’s policy and budget issues. In my work at DC Action for Children (1997-2008), I helped create a robust budget analysis and advocacy operation by establishing and maintaining relationships with elected and appointed officials and engaging the community in the work of protecting and nurturing children and youth across the District. I also created public education materials, trained others on effective budget and policy practices, and was (and remain, I am told) a respected advocate and analyst.”

RSVP Here & Learn More About Communications!

DC Environmental Network Training Opportunities: The DC Environmental Network has held many training opportunities over the years on grassroots organizing, working with the media and to educate about important environmental initiatives. In the last decade the number of environmental advocates roaming the halls of government in DC has increased ten fold. This is a special opportunity to meet with a very effective District advocate and to learn about communication practices that are easily transferable to our environmental advocacy efforts. It is strongly recommended that you take advantage of this opportunity. 

The U.S. Farm Bill which is currently being discussed in Congress, is a huge piece of legislation that covers everything from crop subsidies, to “specialty crops” (meaning the fruits and vegetables we actually eat), to SNAP and WIC benefits, to land conservation program incentives. It is dense; it is complicated; it has the ability to strongly influence this country’s (in)ability to feed its citizens in the coming years. With a huge budget of nearing $420 billion, the Farm Bill is on the chopping block as part of the attempt to cut the budget deficit. However, the programs at risk of being scrapped are the very ones that need to be kept; the large payouts that keep subsidizing agribusiness are the ones that need to go. Doing so would turn our food system around and morph it into a system that is supportive of healthy foods, locally raised and grown produce, as opposed to Big Corn, Soy, & Rice, a process which helps to keep junk food cheap.

And currently this bill is being discussed in Congress behind closed doors and possibly will be enacted without any legislative debate.

So what are we, as consumers, supposed to do about this? First educate yourself. Know what the Farm Bill is (a challenging task, I know) but there are many resources and websites which have done a great job at unpacking the legislation into manageable bites of information. Second, write to your Congressman or Congresswoman. Already there has been a bipartisan group that has spoken out against this “secret” Farm Bill, but there needs to be more support. Third, continue to support your local farmers and urban growers. By supporting the local food system, we keep money in our communities as opposed to in the pockets of large multinational agribusiness corporations. As Wendell Berry is often quoted: “eating is an agricultural act.” It is true: where you choose to purchase your food is an agricultural choice as you are choosing to support a farmer and her/his agricultural practices. It is also a political one as well, as you can help to shape the kind of agriculture that U.S. policy supports and funds.

A few resources to help understand the Farm Bill:

Food and Water Watch’s Fair Farm Bill webpage.

Also the Facebook page Understanding the Farm Bill is an excellent wealth of news and information.

Understanding the Farm Bill Starts Here: All Our Articles in One Handy Place, May 25, 2011, by the Simple, Good and Tasty blog

An EXTENSIVE list of readings, articles, reports and explanations of the history of the Farm Bill, the programs within the omnibus bill, from the Community Alliance for Global Justice (CAGJ) out of Seattle, Washington. I would go here first for information.

Article on commodity subsidies (i.e. corn, soy, rice, milk) is a required read as well. By the Northwest Farm Bill Action Group.


An amazing website on the Declaration of the Youth Food Bill of Rights,  which was the product of this summer’s Rooted In Community (RIC) Leadership Summit. The Summit was hosted in Philadelphia, PA and attracted 37 different groups of youth gardeners, food justice advocates and urban gardeners from across the U.S. This raises the question of is our Farm Bill supporting the people’s right to food access and security? If not, then perhaps it needs to.

A few recent articles on the “Secret” Farm Bill. A quick search online will turn up many more.

Budget cuts could be recipe for change or disaster, October 24, 2011 & Digesting OWS: Why Food Lovers Need to Come to the Table, October 29, 2011, by Slow Food USA

27 Bipartisan Members of Congress Unite to Oppose “Secret Farm Bill”, November 3, 2011, by Oxfam America

Memo to Congress: No Secret Farm Bill, November 2, 2011, by The Nation‘s Mark Hertsgaard

And for some satire via political cartoon (thank you and Slow Food USA):

DC Field to Fork Wordle

November 3, 2011

Wordle: DC Field to Fork

Have you ever thought about what your website is actually saying about you or your organization? A fun, creative way to visualize the words that are being used to talk about your organization, your mission or values is to create a Word Cloud using

I have created one for the “About” section of DC’s Field to Fork Network website. The larger the term or the word which appears in the word cloud, the more often it appears in the selected text. You then can change the font colors, orientation, font style, etc. to fit your creativity needs.

What were the biggest terms for DC Field to Fork Network?

Food, network, field, community, outreach, fresh, fork…

Here is the DC Field to Fork word cloud: