That's Leon. He's working toward universal access to healthy food in the heart of East Oakland. I would argue he's found a proper cause. I'm still looking for one.
We all find ourselves inside the flux capacitor these days. That's how I think of it, all these disruptive forces rewriting the world at quick clip before our eyes. We live inside a historical moment of pretty serious change. Paradigm-shifting stuff. Every generation must feel like it's the most important, most aggrieved, most portentous generation to have ever graced the earth, but you know what, this time of ours is special. We've got technology laying the world bare and we get to fight over how best to rebuild the systems that support us. Technology breeds transparency, and that transparency shifts power right into our hands.
I think this is why causes are so in. The world's in peril, and every thoughtful person is figuring this out. Some find out through corporate abuses and the struggles of a dying middle class. Some find it in preventable chronic illness striking a parent or child. Some find it in overnight temperatures hot enough to keep the windows closed and the AC struggling to keep up. I'm personally seeing it everywhere—from silly food additives that turn my kids' cereal purple to a public school down the block that can't teach them addition. The systems as they were are failing us. They need rebuilding. It's time to reclaim them and get back on track.
If you are a person that feels this way, then you are a person motivated by mission. You want to make the world a better place. Leon says it well: "If you keep doing the same thing you're doing, you're going to get what you got." The proliferation and escalating awareness of cause-based effort is an inner call to collectively change this mess and get something new. We're all hungry for a proper cause, and I would argue that every thoughtful person these days is finding ways to translate that hunger into action. Look at this website for ample evidence.
I live deep in the world of food reform as the editor in chief of a business journal focused on nutrition and natural products. It's considered by many to be the "publication of record" for an industry that opens welcoming arms to organic food, functional food, dietary supplements and integrative medicine. We've gone pretty deep on Proposition 37, a citizen-led ballot initiative to label genetically engineered ingredients in California. I've talked to every expert I could find about Prop 37, and here's what I think: There is no more subversive or effective way—and the latter seems to increasingly require the former—to promote change right now than support this initiative. As a friend at work put it to me, growing a tomato in your backyard is really a true act of subversion, given the corporate hegemony of our food, our healthcare, our politics. It's downright subversive to feed yourself well and sustainably. Whole industries and systems of power are built around you doing exactly the opposite.
I gave Prop 37 $100 when my company wouldn't and it made me feel a little better, but not better enough. So I asked Alex for the space to write this blog and he said yes. If a Bt toxin can carry from genetically modified food to mother to cord blood, it's really just a matter of time before we realize that feeding our kids chemicals and pesticides was a bad idea. I understand the faulty mechanisms of Prop 37, but I see a higher purpose here. My two daughters need more from me than $100. They need me to shake things up, break the patterns. They need me to label food so that transparency can dig its indifferent heels into our most well-heeled corporations and surface every GMO, every pink slime, every reckless profiteer, every toxic influence on their future.
There is nothing perfect about Prop 37, but it's here, it's going to get a vote, and it might pivot the food world toward a healthier place. It might actually be a proper cause—a messy, unexpected volley from the fringe that continues to catch our giants of agricultural chemistry and processed food unawares—and that's why I support it. Given the state of things, shouldn't we all try to be a little bit more like Leon?
by Marc Brush, @allmybrush