Category Archives: Brainstorming
There is perhaps some confusion about the relationship between the Radical Food Network and the Radical Assembly. These two groups were starting to form around the same time, and it is perhaps not surprising that a lack of clarity might arise. So I’ve decided to write this to explain my understanding of how things started, and perhaps shed some light on how they may or may not interact in the future.
The idea for the network sprang out of discussions between Graham Jones and myself in the days following the general election. Graham was one of the people organising the first Radical Assembly. The discussions can be seen both on this site and on Graham’s blog, along with various conversations on Twitter. We arranged to meet up at the first Radical Assembly meeting, where Graham was going to introduce me to someone from Streets Kitchen.
As it turned out, I was not at all happy with the way the assembly was managed by the organisers and left in disgust before the end. As luck would have it, I bumped into Graham outside. So we did the things we needed to do, and I left. I didn’t see that as being anything to do with the Radical Assembly, and since then I have had no involvement with them and very probably won’t in the future.
The reason I won’t be involved is only partly because of the shortcomings of the first assembly. I have heard that they have been addressed now, and maybe they have. The main reason, though, is that they are organised differently, in a way that I don’t think benefits the Radical Food Network.
The idea behind the RFN is that there is already a number of groups that are involved in similar activities that overlap and could very easily support each other, and could expand the scope of their activities by joining together. This is the way the Radical Housing Network has worked, and it has done so very successfully. The Radical Assembly, on the other hand seems to have taken a large group of individuals and formed them into local groups. Although there is some value in that, groups based purely on a geographical link don’t build upon a shared interest between members.
Times change, and the ways that the various activist groups interact will likely change as they grow, so my opinion on this may well change over time. I’ve no time for people who want to be leaders but, apart from that, I’m more than happy to work with anyone who can work with me.
These are just my opinions – others are available…
I don’t know what such a thing might become but I can come up with a few rough ideas off the top of my head.
Healthy food, locally produced and fairly traded. Reasonably-priced food. Cruelty-free food. Educating people about food issues. Addressing the ludicrous amounts of food wasted by supermarkets. Encouraging people/communities to grow their own food. Community events, using food as a way to bring communities together. Catering at outside events, both for fundraising and spreading the word about campaigns.
Many of these are of necessity more commercial than the kind of things the RHN is typically involved in. That probably means it will need to start small and expand its ambitions as its capacity grows. For example, local bulk buying groups are comparatively easy to set up and there could be many benefits from bringing these groups together in a loose network.
(Feel free to add your own ideas, expand on these, etc…)
Welcome to what I hope could be the birth of a new organisation exploring how people might be able to work together to provide one of life’s most basic necessities.
I’m basing this on the Radical Housing Network, a non-hierarchical organisation of groups sharing a common interest in providing and protecting housing for the benefit of the community. There is an excellent article here explaining the way the RHN is organised and how that helps it to be so successful.
Why might we want to create a radical food network? Ultimately, by taking control of how our food is produced, distributed and sold, we can ensure that food is something that benefits the community. We can take control away from the corporate interests that currently treat food purely as a source of profit and make sure that we get the food we need, not the toxic, exploitative rubbish we are being sold at the moment.
That may be a distant goal at the moment but there is nothing to stop us taking steps in that direction straight away. There are probably many people who are doing some of this already. All that’s needed is for some of those groups to start coming together and working towards their common goals in pretty much the way the Radical Housing Network is already doing.
I’ll add more content when I can. In the meantime, feel free to comment on here, or to add new content by logging in as “guest”, with the same password.