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Jonathan Lewis

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Two Females Farming the Future

Posted: 11/08/11 05:00 PM ET

Let's face it. A tremendous amount of anti-poverty work is boringly unglamorous.

No, I am not referring to the blistering drudgery of building a school wall by hand or digging a ditch hard-packed soil for a new village water pipe. Community-based actions in a distant land, after all, can be exotic, moving and memorable.

I am thinking about the endlessly tedious meetings, planning sessions, airport meet-ups, planning retreats, conference calls at odd hours, and the talking, talking, talking... I serve on any number of boards for social businesses, foundations and nonprofits; talking, whoops, I mean, communicating is the fundamental activity of them all.

Of course, whining about the absolute privilege of contributing to a better world is unseemly and self-absorbed. No organizational board member works half as hard as any one of the world's 4 billion people who struggle to make it on $4.00 a day or less.

Moreover, on the flip side of boring meetings is the sheer exhilaration and pure emotional high which transforms a meeting room into a clearer, shared understanding about the work of social and economic justice. It is that moment when our humanity is exposed, touched and called out. It is why we serve.

One touchstone moment for me occurred, quite unexpectedly, in a cramped, slightly claustrophobic, fluorescent lit office building in downtown San Francisco.

I am vice-chair of the Feed the Hunger Foundation board of directors. The necessary undergirding of foundation work -- budget reports, policy reviews, staff compensation, fundraising, committee reports, etc. -- was underway.

My mind was drifting. The fattening glazed donuts on the sidebar were looking ever more appealing.

Then, before I could even sneak a donut, the lights dimmed and the staff previewed a enlightening and gripping video. Raw, authentic, heart-warming.

Meet Denise Albano and Patti Chang:


The typical, and now cliché, promotional video for an anti-poverty organization tells, if it is any good at all, the stories of its poor clients. On camera we hear their trials and tribulations, their hopes and hardy accomplishments (aided by our dollars, of course).

Feed the Hunger Foundation's The Founder's Story avoids that hackneyed storyline. Instead, be transported into the lives and hearts of the two women who are funding farmers and food security in places as dissimilar as Liberia, Mongolia and California.

Yes, California. To America's lasting shame, aching hunger lives down the street because our national "war on poverty" is long-since abandoned. In its place, a persistent and perverted, mean-spirited and callous, class war against the poor rages in the corridors of power and politics.

Denise and Patti's cause is food justice. The enemy is apathy. Pick a side.

 
 
 

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