PCUN is a very dynamic organization that seeks to engage with the community at multiple different levels including three organizational branches. The 501(c)3 is centered around community engagement, the 501(c) 4 represents their political advocacy actions, and the 501 C(5) serves as a labor union to their members. Along these organizations PCUN has five Core Programs of outreach to the community. This semester as a class we have looked at What, Who, and How of PCUN while searching for the best ways to engage towards change. Building on the base that we have created, we hope to find an engagement project that could involve their organization.
Recently on a Lewis and Clark abroad trip to Alicante Spain, I had the opportunity to attend a round table style conference in the field of gastronomy at La Universidad de Alicante. At Las Jornadas Gastronomía & Arte de Estudios Interdisciplinares and other gastronomic events in the area ideas were exchanged and the field was gastronomy was seen to progress among the academic but also the public in attendance (as not every part was solely academic). I envision the possibility of holding a similar conference style could be a way to bring a diverse panel to one location as a collaborative engagement. The Lewis and Clark ENVS department holds a similar engagement opportunity at the school annually. Our proposal is to bring together a panel of experts that represent the entire cycle from seed to your plate in an effort to educate the community about not only about the food’s life cycle from the farm but additionally how human labor is incorporated in the process.
Potentially this project could be down in collaboration with the Lewis and Clark ENVS departments’s ENVS symposium, but doesn’t need to be. The idea would bring together about five professionals from the field with a PCUN representative as a moderator. Here it would be crucial to choose five members of the agriculture community who come from different places with diverse perspectives to share. Initially my thought would be to invite local voices since PCUN operates at a local level. This could mean bringing in speakers such as the Oregon Farm Bureau which has been known to counter PCUN at times in the state legislature as well as bringing in the end of the line speakers such as local chefs, or produce vendors. Additionally the goal would be to include immigrant workers experts as well in the hope of seeking, or engaging in conversation about how we receive our food.
By hosting a diverse group of presenters each can have an opportunity to present their work in an academic educational setting. By doing this the different actors can be presented to the public and they each have an opportunity to share their views on issues. Following a roundtable with moderator prompted questions the presenters will have the opportunity to engage in cooperative projects that end in redefining truths to both the attendees as well as the professionals. In Spain, the conference has great success by combining in person culinary presentations as well as mixing presenters of chemistry and farmers or fishermen. It is important to highlight the interdisciplinary nature of agricultural problems. A roundtable setting allows actors to collaborate as well as including the public as a form of education. It addresses concerns that engagement should be collaborative as well as through communal dialog as well as sets up a public educational event that incorporates the academic as well as sociopolitical issues that affect consumers everyday decisions.