January 2017 Network Development Series

Free Webinar
Tuesday, January 17th, 2017
1:00- 2:00 PM EST

 For Us, By Us: Community Ownership &
the Food System in Washington, D.C.

Resource Experts

Brandy Brooks & Chris Bradshaw, Dreaming Out Loud and Xavier Brown, Soilful City

Photo credit: Joseph Molieri, Bread for the World

The new buzzword in food systems work is “equity” – but what does that really mean? Can a community’s food system be equitable when resources and decision-making power aren’t held by community members? Many food equity projects aim for a more inclusive approach to meeting community needs, but they still don’t challenge the fundamental disparities in power, money, land access, and other resources that harm people of color, people with low incomes, immigrants, and other marginalized groups. Using examples from community-driven food work in Washington, DC, this webinar will explore how we move from food equity to food sovereignty: locally-owned, democratically-controlled, just and sustainable food systems that prioritize healthy ecosystems and the human right to food.

Brandy H. M. Brooks is an activist, educator, facilitator, and designer who has spent more than 10 years working on social and environmental justice. Her particular areas of focus includes community engagement and empowerment; community-based design and land use planning; and food justice and food sovereignty. She was the founding executive director of the Community Design Resource Center of Boston and has worked in senior management roles with the Rudy Bruner Foundation, The Food Project, and the Boston Collaborative for Food and Fitness. Throughout Brandy’s career, she has been committed to fostering and supporting the right to self-determination of urban communities of color and communities with low income levels, by advocating for equitable representation, meaningful participation, and community-led decision-making in issues and projects that affect a community’s built and natural environment.

Brandy has served on multiple nonprofit boards and planning committees locally and nationally. She was a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals, the Zoning Advisory Committee, and the Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee for the City of Somerville, MA. She was also a board member for the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, the Boston Collaborative for Food and Fitness, Groundwork Somerville, the Association for Community Design, and the American Institute of Architects Center for Communities by Design. Brandy has been an instructor or guest lecturer at the Boston Architectural College, Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, MIT, Suffolk University, and Tufts University. She continues to speak at local and national events on community design, community-based food systems, and cooperative development.

Brandy’s civic and professional leadership have been recognized through numerous awards and fellowships. She is an Environmental Leadership Program Senior Fellow (Chesapeake Regional Network 2015), a 2016 New Economy Maryland Fellow, and a 2009 Next American Vanguard alumna. In 2010, she received a Summer Public Policy Fellowship with the Rappaport Institute of Greater Boston and a Moakley Public Policy and Public Management Fellowship with the Center for Public Management at Suffolk University. Brandy holds a Master in Public Administration with a concentration in Non-Profit Management from Suffolk University, and a Bachelor of Design Studies with a concentration in Design Computing from the Boston Architectural College. She is also an alumna of Harvard College.

Brandy lives with her family in Silver Spring, MD. Her current projects focus on building community economic power through the development of cooperative enterprises. Her long-term goal is the development of ecumenical intentional communities led by people of color that model sustainable self production, radical economic equality, and radical democratic governance. Her vision is the creation of just and restorative neighborhoods, economies, and ecologies in cities across the United States.

Chris Bradshaw is an expert in bringing social innovation, youth development and entrepreneurship along with urban farming techniques to underrepresented communities, Christopher honed his organizing and entrepreneurial skills at Howard University while studying political science and business, developing a human rights centered world view as area coordinator for Amnesty International.

Chris further developed his skills in social entrepreneurship and innovation as a Starting Block Fellow and honed his skills in growing techniques at Growing Power and the University of Arizona’s Controlled Environment Agriculture Center.

His call to social organizing led him to leave Howard to form Dreaming Out Loud, Inc. (DOL), which fully embraces urban agriculture and cooperative social enterprise as mechanisms for changing communities. DOL founded and manages Dreaming Out Loud Community Markets, a network of farmers markets and mobile farm stands that serve as the organization’s platform for advocacy, improving community health, impacting youth and furthering community economic development. The organization is also working to establish a 2-acre urban farm in Ward 7 in the District of Columbia.

Chris was selected as a 2015 Ashoka-American Express Emerging Innovator, a finalist for Ashoka Changemakers’ Nutrients for All competition, and one of 50 Under 50: Innovative Leaders Transforming Metro DC’s Food System. He is a frequent speaker on social innovation, urban agriculture and regional food systems, and the food justice movement.

Xavier Brown is a native of Washington, DC, a graduate of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, and current University of Vermont Graduate student. Xavier operates at the boundaries of urban agriculture, environmental sustainability, and African Diasporic culture. His work intertwines sustainability with social justice issues that affect stressed communities, from gun violence to mass incarceration to climate change. The guiding question is how the wisdom of nature and different ways of knowing can be used to dismantle these problems. Xavier views nature as a tool that can uplift and heal stressed communities. By studying the practices of indigenous people and going back to ancestral knowledge, Xavier is part of the new sustainability movement that is healing the people and the land by reconnecting our scared relationship to the earth.