Please take the time to read the following letter from Erika Lesser, head of Slow Food USA, regarding how Slow Food can best respond to the misery surrounding Katrina.
Also, those of you who either volunteered or bought tickets to the LA supports LA event already made a difference. We’ve heard from Alex Brennan Martin…read his message to everyone who worked on LA supports LA right here:
I am overwhelmed and only wish I could shake each person’s hand but you will have to settle for an email hug! We begin the process of distributing grants next week and I am working directly with the mayor and pairing the grants with jobs we have around the country through www.cirajobs.com. This will change peoples’ lives starting next week and you all are a huge part of this. If that doesn’t light your fire…well, then…your wood’s wet!
Thank you all from all of us here more than we will ever be able to say,
Alex Brennan Martin
Brennan’s of Houston
And now from Erika:
As the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina unfolds across the South, many of you have begun asking the national office and fellow convivium leaders what Slow Food can to do to help. We have been doing a lot of brainstorming over the past few days, and talking with our friends in New Orleans, specifically via Poppy Tooker, founder of the New Orleans convivium.
Poppy and her family are safe and have re-located to Baton Rouge for the time being, where she is actively working with the Red Stick Farmer’s Market and by phone with Richard McCarthy of the Crescent City Farmer’s Market to identify the immediate and individual needs of both producers and their market outlets.
One thing is clear: there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of small farmers, fishermen and artisan food producers whose livelihoods have been endangered or even wiped out by the effects of Hurricane Katrina. There are also countless numbers of individuals whose displacement across the US has cut them off from their families, friends and work, not to mention the flavors of home.
The challenge that Slow Food faces is: how can we, as a nonprofit organization dedicated to the defense of biodiversity and the celebration of food culture, mobilize the resources we already possess to contribute meaningfully to the relief efforts? What can we do in the face of this agricultural and gastronomic diaspora of the deep South?
In an ideal world, the infrastructure and resources would already be there. But the reality of our situation requires a human response that provides both immediate relief and more long-term strategies that empower individuals–both those who are in need and those who can help.
We believe that the answer lies with our grassroots network of Convivia and Terra Madre, and in the form of three distinct strategies:
1. “Red Beans and Ricely Yours” at local farmers markets;
2. In-kind assistance to farmers via the networks of Terra Madre and Convivia;
3. A new SFUSA Terra Madre Fund to direct funds to specific Slow-oriented hurricane relief projects identified by SF New Orleans.
We hope that every Convivium of Slow Food USA will find a way to participate.
We’ll post more news from our national and international Slow Food colleagues as it becomes available.