Plenum – Kicking Us Off!

By Rosie Russell

During the second week of September, the Metro Food Justice Network (MFJN) and Social Gastronomy Movement (SGM) hosted a plenum, bringing together many people from all over the world to solve big problems around a shared interest, food justice. This event was a chance to showcase the collaborative system of local food in the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area (TCMA), while also gaining insights that could be disseminated and used by a wide network of people across the globe.

instagram post with a view of the room of gathered people, highlighting melvin's quote about the arc of justice taking a quantum leap
(Instagram – @mfjnmn) Melvin Giles grounds the group in the “why” of food justice work with a reminder that “the arc of justice is moving forward – we’ve made a quantum leap!”

While kicking off the event, Melvin Giles, a respected elder in the community, shared with us, “the arc of justice is moving.” You may be wondering, what is the arc of justice? One documentary by Helen S. Cohen and Mark Lipman describes it as the rise, fall, and rebirth of a beloved community. A podcast from North Carolina Public Radio describes it as the need for Acknowledgement, Redress, and Closure (ARC) to remedy historical injustices faced by Black Americans. One non-profit refers to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s well respected quote, “we shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” These examples tell us of the story of perseverance, the story that has been passed down since the beginning of time, in many cultures and languages. The one we dream about, to gain strength in hard times.

But this story is not just about perseverance. As Melvin said, “we are taking a quantum leap right now.” It is now, where momentum is high and growth is exponential, where everything seems to come together all at once, bringing us full speed in the right direction. This is a story of food and transformation, and is one that instills hope within us all. As Shari said, “It is our right to grow healthy food. Healthy food is medicine.” It can heal us, our anger, our loneliness, our fear, and our neglected bodies. It can heal ecological systems. Growing food connects us to the land, and sharing food brings us together. 

Following the words that were shared, the entire room was buzzing with feelings of possibility, of warmth, of gratitude, of endurance, of the courage to be fantastic, and of the power of all that together, with all of us together, for a shared purpose. 


Where do you see evidence of the arc of justice taking a quantum leap?

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