Recently, I had a pleasure to attend Stir for Action workshop. I felt empowered to be surrounded by positive thinkers as well as seeing strong women of colour, sharing excellent knowledge and facilitate a space where I could see things from a different angle. Going into the workshop, I was expecting that we would be talking about economics and capitalism, where the money has not been rightly distributed, causing communities especially those from a BAME background to bear the burden of our unequal society. In a sense, such a narrative has its validity, and it is almost inevitable not to be discussed when the subject involves power and wealth. However, while working in small groups discussing a particular burning issue, the question of food production and poverty, which was a shared concern among my group.
Through my years of experience working in the community, I have had an understanding of the importance of food on different levels such as health, emotional wellbeing and financial factors. Having said that, I never paid much attention to the underlining issues or the root causes. The discussion opened my awareness where I thought about the subject from a more critically, instead of just basing my conversations on the prevailing narratives and blaming game. Critically thinking, I realised that often such narratives makes us focus on the blame and problem, resulting in overseeing the broader picture in hopes of solutions. Not only we discussed the land ownership in its discriminatory ways but also the rights of usage. Much discussion in today's society involves poverty and poor diets, yet access to healthy products and rights to produce is becoming more of a privilege. This subject became personal to me and saddened me to think about my upbringing where I was in contact with the land knowing about growing fruits and vegetables, being aware when they were in season, to come in realisations that my children may not even know how certain fruits or vegetables looks like.
I did discover that a black's growers community exist, something that did not really cross my mind. As mentioned, personally, I feel that growing produce and means to do so has become a privilege, which BAME communities appeared not to have in this country and taking into consideration the recent phenomenon of international investment and expansion BAME communities may be losing that privilege in the homeland as well. I left the workshop feeling optimistic and more opened to explore avenues to support the community and perhaps try to be more creative in finding solutions.
This workshop highlighted for me the importance of land as the catalyst to move forward and be meaningful development. Perhaps the real wealth is not the money as the capitalist mindset makes us think but a way to sustain communities and improve their wellbeing. I believe it is paramount of having such safe spaces where discussions among positive thinkers can make a difference and perhaps change (as small as it can be) can actually make a difference on a bigger picture. Changing the way practitioners see a problem may change the way that we seek solutions.
by Anabela Semedo