Discourse / Editorials / Food Politics / January 20, 2011

Thoughts from the Embers: Think small to think big

This past week, two representatives of the Real Food Challenge (RFC), a national campaign to get college campus food to be composed of 20 percent “real food” by 2020, have been hosting events on the Knox campus. Yesterday, they hosted an organizational meeting about strategies for college students to accomplish goals for their campus.

Real food, as defined by the organization’s website (realfoodchallenge.org), is “food which truly nourishes producers, consumers, communities and the earth. It is a food system—from seed to plate—that fundamentally respects human dignity and health, animal welfare, social justice and environmental sustainability.”

Had more people attended this meeting, it could have been one of the more useful events that Knox has seen in awhile. The meeting was focused on training Knox students to create and attain smaller goals in a way that produces results while keeping long-term goals in mind.

This is something that Knox has needed for some time. Knox is known for students, as well as members of the faculty and staff, with big ideas. We want to get all organic food in our cafeteria. We want to have local food all-year round. We want to completely renovate the school with the Green Fee to make it more “green.” We want to continue campus discourse about sexual assault, including self-defense workshops. We want the entire campus to be involved in these things and we want it all to happen right now!

What the representatives from RFC emphasized is what we already, somewhere deep in our hearts, know: we cannot have immediate gratification if we continue to think so big. However, the answer is not to quit thinking about the large goals that we hope will leave a huge impact on our community. The answer is to think small in order to think big­­­—to focus on what we can do now in order to build toward a larger goal. A strategy presented at the meeting was the creation of a list of long term, intermediate, and short-term goals, and then considering organizational assets and downfalls. The representatives suggested creating goals that are both ambitious and time-sensitive.

For a school that focuses so much on making its campus a better place, it was about time that someone told us how to organize, instead of just telling us what we should organize.

Certainly, it is not easy to succeed. We have to consider the turnover that Knox has; we each only have (usually) four years here before we must trust someone else to carry on what we have started or continued. Students at the meeting brainstormed ways in which these tactics could be applied to Knox. One idea included each cause, campaign or organization recruiting at least four or five freshmen to continue its project in later years. As this cycle continued, the idea is that all groups would grow until no campaigns were too small to be heard.

There are many organizations at Knox that could benefit from these strategies of campaigning for a cause. Killer Coke, the Community Garden, Food for Thought and Knox Advocates for Recycling and Environmental Sustainability (KARES) are only a few. We have seen these organizations make progress on our campus, though maybe they, and many other groups at Knox, could make more progress if we utilized RFC’s strategies and split our efforts into both small changes now and long-term changes for the future.

TKS Staff

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