SOAN Student Club Party Tonight!

IMG_7392Hi all,

So the leaders of the revitalized SOAN Student Club asked if they could host a semester-concluding party at my house tonight, and I said yes. So, from 6:00 to 8:00 tonight, I’ll be hosting a SOAN student open house at my Salmon Beach place. And although we’re in throes of the semester’s end, a handful of other SOAN faculty hope to be there as well. We hope you can join us!

IMG_8304Here are some additional details: students will be meeting at Diversions at 5:30 PM today, Wednesday. My house isn’t the sort of place you can just drive to — getting there is complicated, so you’ll need to touch base with one of the club officers or contact me if you’re going to try and find your own way there. The SOAN club intends to provide some food and more for those who make the journey.

Event: SOAN Student Club Social
Where: Professor Gardner’s House
When: Meet at Diversions at 5:30 for a ride
When Exactly: 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM at Salmon Beach 56

We hope to see you there.

Andrew

Dean Jackson speaks on Food Sovereignty, Justice

On Thursday November 12, students from Devparna Roy’s Connections 335 course, Race & Multiculturalism in the American Context, had the opportunity to attend a lecture given by Dean Jackson, local activist and founder of the Hilltop Urban Gardens.  Jackson began Hilltop Urban Gardens (HUG) in 2010 in attempt to develop the prospects of food sovereignty and combat racial and economic issues in Tacoma.

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Dean Jackson pictured outside Hilltop Urban Gardens

Jackson highlighted six principles that define food sovereignty.  Focus on food for the people, valuation of food providers, localization of food systems, making decisions on the local level, building communities’ knowledge and skill, and working with nature.  According to the World Health Organization, food sovereignty is attained when “all people at all times have access to safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy lifestyle”.

As Jackson explained, there is a devastating food crisis going on in the United States.  In many communities of color issues of food justice and sovereignty are rising concerns.  HUG strives to foster meaningful discussions on these issues, while developing options for residents to pursue.  Jackson posits that, “everyone deserves access and the ability to produce and distribute fresh, affordable, healthy, clean, sustainable, safe, and culturally appropriate food”.

Currently, food charity groups feed approximately 220,000 of the 820,000 residents in Pierce County through food banks and food stamps.  According to Jackson, if the Pacific Northwest were to be cut off from the rest of the US, say by a disaster, it would take grocery stores three days to run out of food.  This is a troubling prospect; one food sovereignty would combat.

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Community members gardening at HUG

Our reliance on food charity and national chains makes an alternative hard to imagine, Jackson said.  However, a shift towards alternative models must be implemented to confront the crisis currently faced.  Food sovereignty does not just concern the matter of obtaining food, it also is meant to address the power dynamics within the food industry.

In their five years of operation, HUG has come a long way.  One current focus surrounds the creation of the Black Lives Matter Memorial Gardens.  Jackson is combining efforts with the UPS Black Student Union to commemorate Black lives lost due to police brutality.  In addition, Jackson hopes to expand their gardens in the future.  Soon, HUG will be participating in Tacoma’s “Healthy Homes, Healthy Neighborhoods” initiative.

SOAN Brownbag Today!

atwillHi all,

Historian David Atwill, from Pennsylvania State University, is lecturing tonight about his research, but the SOAN Student Club has arranged an informal brownbag conversation earlier today. He’ll be generally speaking about ethnography, the discipline of history, and research more broadly. It promises to be an illuminating conversation.

Where: Northwest Lounge, Commencement Hall
When: Wednesday, Nov. 18, 1:00 – 2:00 PM

We hope to see you there!

Andrew

SSI Classes Take Trip to Swan Creek Food Forest

Eli samples an ant

Eli samples an ant

A few weeks ago, Professor Denise Glover’s two seminar classes (SSI 117 People, Plants, and Animals) took a field trip to the Swan Creek Food Forest (SCFF) here in Tacoma. The purpose of the trip was to learn more about local urban foraging and the connections between land and people in the area. Our guide was Puget Sound alumna Renee Meschi (’15), who now works for the Pierce Conservation District in Tacoma, and is Program Specialist for SCFF activities. She explained to us the layers of social history on the land (which included the land as traditional Puyallup foraging grounds) that was designated as the Swan Creek Food Forest in 2012.

Students listen to Renee explain the history of the land at SCFF

Students listen to Renee explain the history of the land at SCFF

Erin taking an extracted blackberry plant to the dumping zone

Erin taking an extracted blackberry plant to the dumping zone

In our class, we had just finished up a unit on traditional foraging and were transitioning into a section about contemporary issues involving people, plants, and animals (such as industrial farming, non-human animal legal rights, urban edible landscapes, the centrality of pets in the lives of urban Americans, and related topics), so the field trip was well timed—and offered students the opportunity to see the ideas we had been discussing in action. As one student wrote: “While reading the articles for class, I didn’t fully grasp how examples of traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) in indigenous communities were relevant to me. Seeing the food forest helped me tie all the readings together, as I drew from the ideas of Agrawal and Turner to put TEK in the perspective of my position—a suburban, western educated white boy.”

In addition to an introduction to the SCFF, we toured the grounds and Renee pointed out important areas of foraging and the natural kinds foraged there, such as bracken fern (Pteridium), hawthorn (Crataegus), St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum), and ground ants (some of the students even sampled ants during our walk through the food forest—see photo). Lastly, students lent their human labor to the task of removing invasive blackberries.

Students listen to Renee explain the history of the land at SCFF

Blake, Sarah, and Andy (behind Sarah) dig up blackberries while Chloe looks on.  

Talk Tomorrow: Professor David Atwill

Hi all,

Historian David Atwill will be talking tomorrow evening about his research. His lecture, entitled Lhasa 1960: Tibetan Muslims and the Emergence of Modern Tibet, explores the fascinating historical experiences of the often-elided Tibetan muslim minority that has long resided there. Please join us!

Where: Puget Sound, Wyatt 109
When: Wednesday, November 18, 5:00 PM

ATWILL - UPS Lhasa 1960

Food Charity, Food Justice, and Food Sovereignty: A Public Talk by Tacoma’s Dean Jackson

Hi all,

Dean Jackson from Tacoma will be talking on campus tomorrow about their wonderful efforts here in Tacoma. The basic details:

Trimble Forum
Thursday, November 12, 2015
11:00 AM to 12:20 PM

Dean Jackson and community members at work in the gardens

Dean Jackson and community members at work in the gardens

Dean Jackson is a black, genderqueer farmer living in the Hilltop neighborhood of Tacoma, WA.  They are founder and director of Hilltop Urban Gardens (HUG) – a social justice organization working to develop systems of food sovereignty and create racial and economic justice.  Dean has a long organizing history that ranges from early childhood education, to creating space and voice for queer people of color, to working to build a neighborhood food system.  Qualities Dean strives for: heart led leadership, honesty, compassion, and love. This talk will highlight the work of HUG while examining the concepts of food charity, food justice, and food sovereignty.

Student Presentations at Reed College

Hi all,

Carolynn Hammen (Puget Sound, SOAN) describing aspects of her fieldwork experience in Cairo

Carolynn Hammen (Puget Sound, SOAN) describing aspects of her fieldwork experience in Cairo

Four Puget Sound students, including two SOAN majors, just returned from participation and presentations at a mini-conference concerning research in and about the Middle East. The mini-conference itself was entitled Integrating Middle East and Arabic Studies Across the NW5C. This group of faculty, whose collaborative efforts have been supported by the Northwest five college consortium (including Puget Sound, Reed, Lewis and Clark, Whitman, and Willamette), are seeking to collectively reinforce our universities’ capacities to foster students’ interest and experience with the study of Middle Eastern societies, cultures, and histories.

In addition to attending two lectures (including Tarik Elseewi’s “New Media, New Subjectivities in the Arab World,” and Sohail Hash’s “Islam, Constitutionalism, and the Challenge of Democracy”), Puget Sound students participated in two student-focused roundtable sessions with faculty and students from the other Northwest Five colleges. Those sessions included On the Ground: Research Experiences in and about the Middle East, and Next Projects: Workshop on Ongoing Projects in or about the Middle East. The four Puget Sound students (Carolynn Hammen, David Balgley, Kathryn Stutz, and Peter Atwill) were active contributors and participants in both of these conversations.

Andrew