Bring It To The Table

fields, family, friends

Reflection September 13, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Aubrey @ 2:58 pm

With our groundwork projects being due this past weekend, I’m feeling a little sad about officially leaving behind my intro class. Sharing our ideas and encouraging each other’s projects to grow has been fundamental to the core of the class, and although I know we will all be involved with each other for the next few years, now I know we will each be more on our own. Completing, in the loosest sense available, the project has shown for me how much there is to learn and to do with information there is to gather pertaining to not only sustainable agriculture but also rural culture.

I have developed a small base for what my next moves will be concerning the project, which is to become involved with creating school gardens which will also be open to their surrounding communities. First I would like to become involved in something similar that is already in existence, either a school or community garden project, but I would eventually like to see the two combined.

There is also the possibility of working more directly with farmers and learning more about what rural culture can teach us about living sustainably. Like many others, I was aware previously to this class that there is a revitalization going on with small farms, but I didn’t know how much farther we as a society still have to go in order for them to be a thriving sector of our economy again. I’m also still very much in the dark about the laws which make it either easier or harder (in most cases the latter) for small farms to succeed.

Where I was curious before I am more passionate now. I want to see change occur and I would like to be part of it. This class and project have both given me something to start working off of, and hopefully soon I will be involved in the action.


Greening Possibilities August 30, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Aubrey @ 12:48 am

In our CS class, we seem to have a lot of discussion surrounding the possibilities of our projects. It reaches beyond what we hope to achieve through our work and tends to settle a lot in our fears about what we want to do.

Will the people we seek to give a hand to reject us?

Can we really implement what’s going on in our heads out there in the field?

And, what’s worth saving, and what isn’t?

The latter question goes further when we consider the viability of our work and our intentions. Culture is worth recording and remembering, but it also- to use a phrase spouted many times in social studies classes- does not occur in a vacuum. This shows us the most central possibility, which is that of change. But wouldn’t some say that change is the latent enemy of all that is wanted to be sustained? Perhaps we feel so conflicted because we are performing the opposing tasks of both promoting change and holding it back.

I’m not sure how I approach my own statement above in terms of my own project, and I’ve gotten off track a bit with my musings. Basically what I’m trying to say is that maybe we are too focused on all the what-ifs and how we ought to approach them as good stewards of the cultural world. We need to remember that we are not always going to be in the right and there will always be other people either standing in the way, moving out of the way, or giving us a boost over the fence. Fear helps ground us but it does not allow us to launch. I know all of my classmates have the best of intentions and that those who matter will see it. So let’s go forth and do it.


Let’s Dig A Little Deeper… August 22, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Aubrey @ 11:59 pm

The following is my blog essay, which is an assignment for my Intro to Cultural Sustainability course:

The residency was intense but very enjoyable and worthwhile. The most important personal breakthrough was learning about my strength as an individual. I never consider myself to be a very forward or outgoing person, but during the residency I felt that I was able to myself out there in terms of my own thoughts and ideas… and sometimes people listened. It was empowering. I suppose from this I learned to be stronger in my convictions and unafraid to state them (as my fellow classmates will remember having to tell me to stop apologizing for myself!).

In terms of my groundwork project, I came out of the residency with a fresher understanding of what I could accomplish through this program. I was pretty confused about where my passions lie and how to mold them into something I could do through the MACS program. Meeting other people who have clearer ideas about their projects and learning about what people are doing out there already helped me to formulate my own project a little better and for now at least I have found myself on more solid footing. While I may or may not stick with my project the entire time remains to be seen, but at least now I am heading down a path instead of being stuck in the middle of a road with many forks.

I’ve seen, for one thing, that there is a lot of material already out there for me to work with in terms of food and where it currently stands in our culture. It’s an issue many people have been concerned with for awhile, and interest only continues to grow as we see more and more how our diet and approach to it is affecting both our physical and mental health. When I was first made aware of food’s dire state in our society, it felt as though few people neither understood nor cared about what was going on. Barbara Kingsolver and old hippies were the only people, in my naïve mind, who gave a shit.  Thankfully I considered things a little more and began talking with others about it; I discovered, for example, that Adams County (where Gettysburg is located) has a vibrant community of family farms and orchards, some of which promise organic and free range animal products that are available at local farmer’s markets and also by arranging personal orders through the farmers themselves. Even the first restaurant I worked at after graduating college was into eating locally. Central Pennsylvania had shown itself to be a little more “with it” than I had given it credit for.

These personal revelations, coupled with my MACS experience, have provided for me a solid ground to work off of. While I am still travelling down a path that can take me many places, at least now I know I’m going… let’s say North. As a final note, the awareness I gained from the residency ended up being this: all of us were there because of our realization that something is going on in the world and that someone needs to do something about it. We all came from dissimilar walks of life yet somehow ended up in the same classroom trying to figure out how we could fix things, whatever it was we thought was broken. As for me, I see how we eat as being broken, which is important to me because I see how we eat as being indicative of our human essence. Eating means sharing, and sharing means culture. When eating becomes as commoditized- or worse- chore-ized, what does that mean for everything else we hold close to our hearts? That is what I want to drive me forward in my experience with this program.


What Eating Sustainably DOESN’T Mean August 12, 2010

Filed under: From The News — Aubrey @ 3:19 am

An interesting news story from today. I promise I will have something more thoughtful next time.


Jell-O Revolution August 5, 2010

Filed under: Personal Stories — Aubrey @ 4:46 am

Two weeks ago, I ate seven layer Jell-O. Picture a rainbow of jiggly goodness in a shallow glass baking pan and don’t even bother considering its nutritional facts.

What made this particular foray into processed dessert food special, beyond that I rarely have dessert and when I do it’s certainly not Jell-O, was that I was eating it with close to twenty other people who are all members of my extended family. People I call my aunts and uncles and my Dad started eating it before they could say “Jell-O” and will probably be eating it after they forget how to say “Jell-O”. I might even venture to say that it’s more American than apple pie, or at the very least as American as any other food product invented here that is produced by mysterious methods. As for the seven layer version that I shared with my family last month, I couldn’t tell you where my grandmother acquired the recipe, but I’m pretty sure it was from the company that was putting out Jell-O in the 1950s itself.

I’d hate to think that other families don’t have a recipe like seven layer Jell-O that they eat together every summer.

Tonight for my MACS grad program at Goucher, we had a potluck of sorts that wasn’t very different from all the times I’ve spent with family or friends that involved people bringing various dishes to share with the group. We spent time beforehand preparing the feast together before we got to sit down and enjoy it. Most of the ingredients of what we ate, and even what we drank, didn’t come from more than a state away, and the dishes themselves were family recipes similar to seven layer Jell-O (only in the way that they are enjoyed by people when they’re enjoying time with other people). In short, it was a perfect kind of way for people who were complete strangers up until three days ago to become connected as a group.

During class earlier in the day, we divided up into pairs to chat about how our reading assignments thus far related to what we were thinking about focusing on for the program. My partner Jess enlightened me to an organization called Outstanding in the Field, which promotes not only eating locally but eating together as a community- in a sense, eating as people ate for thousands of years up until the last century. While seven layer Jell-O is not “local”, and the last time its basic ingredients were on a farm could have been months ago (if they were ever there), I see it as a start of examples of what we as a society ought to think about holding onto a little tighter… even if it feels a little squishy in between your fingers.



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