This article appeared in the November 23, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 11/23 edition

Where purposeful action shows its power

Paul Sancya/AP
Volunteers prepare bags of food at a food pantry in Detroit March 23, 2020. The city’s network of food relief has surged during the pandemic, and organizers hope the gains will stay in place well beyond it.
Clayton Collins
Director of Editorial Innovation

At a time of waiting – for an orderly transfer of political power, for humility in leadership, for a more unified pandemic response – patience may be the virtue that’s most prized.

Having patience doesn’t preclude having agency.

Voters turned out this month in pockets of cities long characterized by disenfranchisement. Members of Navajo Nation voted in big numbers despite the pandemic.

At the start of a week that celebrates gratitude and sharing, two examples of grassroots action: 

In Detroit, where the poverty rate is three times the national average and food insecurity is rampant, school closures have made it harder to feed needy families. But in recent months a public/private network of gleaners and pantries has been strengthened. 

“Navigating closures and social distancing has required a systematic overhaul,” says a report highlighted in Civil Eats, “but some changes are so effective, they are expected to endure beyond the COVID-19 era.” In “a tremendous pivot,” partnerships have eased knotty logistics. 

Native American tribal communities nationwide have struggled with sufficiency too. The Wampanoag brought crops and know-how to the first Thanksgiving. But their food traditions were buried, along with the truth about their role.

Today, reports Christina Gish Hill, an anthropologist at Iowa State, Native peoples are reclaiming Indigenous varieties of vegetables, reviving practices, and restoring local food systems. 

“We are learning about what it means to ... conduct research that respects protocols our Native collaborators value,” says Dr. Hill. “By listening with humility, we are working to build a network where we can all learn from one another.”

This article appeared in the November 23, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 11/23 edition
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