It seemed a bit like I was in a Marxist sect meeting rather than the CT NOFA “Cultivating an organic Connecticut” conference on Saturday. The keynote speaker talked about how those in the room were the enlightened ones and how the message somehow needed to be spread to those unenlightened beer drinking NASCAR fans so as to make it a mass movement. We should try to engage them, draw them in, then somehow inject them with our message, he said, although was not clear on how this could be done.
Substitute the “working class” for “NASCAR fans” and the mindset could have been a Marxist grouplet. We have the correct answers and thus must enlighten the ignorant hordes.
Sue has some quality redneck in her family tree and was somewhat offended by this well meaning but elitist speaker assuming that rednecks by definition must be dolts. Hey, there are plenty of rednecks who grow their own food, quite possibly organically too, and could have much to contribute to an organic food movement. For a movement to be truly inclusionary it needs to bring others into it and then – listen up here, true believers – pay attention to what they say. Because it might be important, and, staggering thought, might be something you don’t already know. A genuine mass movement changes and morphs as new people come join it. And not by the Enlightened Few attempting to impart their knowledge to the unwashed masses.
The speaker said one hundred years ago, all food was locally grown, and that this was the Golden Era. Maybe. But then people moved to the cities, industrialization and wars came, food became processed, and much was lost. (A Marxist might follow the same basic line of thought, talking about the spread of capitalism and imperialism.)
But much was gained too. And you can’t build mass movements until you appreciate that. Some of Sue’s family were farmers and laborers. Her grandfather was a stonemason, her father was too, until he decided there must be an easier way to make a living, went to school, and became an aerospace engineer. An uncle of hers joined the Army, retired after 20 years, moved to Missouri and became a pig farmer.
To build mass movements, these are the kinds of people who can and must be part of it. Being contemptuous of their background most certainly won’t attract them! Condescending from the self-imposed lofty heights of the true believer is futile. Realizing they have much to contribute, and can also attract many you couldn’t possibly reach, will