A partial list of our wonderful speakers of 2015.
Helen Atthowe is a vegan farmer who holds advanced degrees in horticulture with a focus on entomology and soil management. She started out as an organic farmer almost thirty years ago, later transitioning to agroecological and finally to veganic farming – she calls these the three stages of organic. Her current farm, Woodleaf Farm, is at the forefront of organic soil and pest management and has won a Steward of Sustainable Agriculture Award. On weekends, she can be found selling gorgeous veganic peaches at farmers markets in the Bay Area. Her website: http://www.veganicpermaculture.com/
Chirag Gunvantbhai Bhakta is the Campaign and Outreach Engagement Coordinator for the Mission SRO Collaborative. He was born and raised in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco, where he continues to work. Chirag has been organizing since he was at the California State University, Fullerton, where he was involved in the fight for affordable and accessible higher education. He then took organizing to a professional level as the West Coast National Field Associate for the United States Student Association. While there, he was formally trained by the Midwest Academy on the Alinsky school of organizing. At present, he is immersed in the housing and anti-gentrification battle in San Francisco. He has been a vegan since 2012.
Christopher Cook is an award-winning journalist and author of the acclaimed book, Diet for a Dead Planet: Big Business and the Coming Food Crisis. He has written widely on food, agriculture, labor, environmental and social justice issues for the Los Angeles Times, Harper’s, The Economist, Mother Jones, The Christian Science Monitor, The Nation, Salon.com and many others. He is a contributing writer for The Progressive magazine. As a consultant, Chris has helped organizations such as Oxfam America, Friends of the Earth, Food First, and the Food Sovereignty Prize produce reports and publications on climate change, agroecology, food sovereignty and other issues. His website: www.christopherdcook.com.
Eugene Cooke is a renowned food justice activist and veganic urban farmer. With his wife, he founded Grow Where You Are, a program that transforms urban spaces in underserved neighborhoods by creating community food gardens & vegetable farms. Eugene has assisted in the creation of numerous urban farms, school gardens, and home food gardens, and has planted 400+ fruit trees in cities throughout the U.S. as well as in Jamaica, Haiti and Kenya, where he trained local residents in veganic growing methods. He is committed to demonstrating that we can grow abundant food without exploiting animals, harming the environment, or depleting ecosystems.
Carolina Dutton lived in Mexico for four years and spent additional months in Morelos Guerrero and Chiapas. She has worked with Zapatista communities since 1997. She worked with education promoters who taught literacy to women in their community and has remained in touch as the women have taken more and more leadership. She also works with the Chiapas Support Committee which supports autonomous education in the region of the Caracol of La Garucha. She is particularly interested the importance of land and food sovereignty in the building of autonomy as well as the changing roles of women and the development of an alternative education system. She attended the 1st and 2nd levels of the Escuelita Zapatista.
Oscar Grande is a Community Organizer with People Organizing to Demand Economic and Environmental Rights (PODER). He works to empower immigrant Latino communities in San Francisco by focusing in particular on housing rights and land use. He has also been active against displacement as an organizer of the Plaza 16 Coalition. He has a keen understanding of the importance of access to land as a foundation of social justice, and of the need to have a comprehensive approach in building healthy and resilient communities.
Chema Hernández Gil is a Community Organizer who works with low-income communities of color in San Francisco to make biking, walking and transit safer and more accessible in their neighborhoods, access to affordable, active transportation being a key part of a community’s health and autonomy. Chema was raised vegetarian and experienced his family’s shift to eating more dairy and processed foods when they left Mexico. Over the years, he also saw how diets in Mexico changed in similar ways. He will speak about the colonization of native North American food systems and about building vegan agroecological food systems in the context of an anti-colonization/decolonization approach.
Joe Kilcoyne is Co-founder of Wild Earth Farm and Sanctuary, where he strives to build a community that values individual experience and mutual cooperation in an environment where one can be both a student and teacher. Joe holds Permaculture Design Certificates from Midwest Permaculture and from Spiralseed. He strives to foster independence, self empowerment, common ground and the knowledge that we can work together to live free from exploitation by removing ourselves from cultures of domination. In his work, Joe focuses on learning to live a life that respects and values the animals, plants, fungi, and minerals around us.
Nassim Nobari is the Co-founder and Program Director of Millahcayotl Association. She is a veteran of the international food sovereignty movement, having volunteered for nearly a decade with Via Campesina in a dozen countries spanning four continents. In addition, she has worked with radical community programs in Switzerland and the US. Nassim holds an advanced degree in social psychology and her research has focused on food as a prism to study social norms and dynamics.
Gustavo Oliveira is originally from Brazil. He has been a translator with La Via Campesina since 2009 and a coordinator of the Friends of the MST since 2010 (an international solidarity network with the Landless Rural Workers’ Movement of Brazil). He is currently a PhD candidate in the department of geography at UC Berkeley, researching Chinese investments in Brazilian agribusiness, their socio-environmental problems and agroecological alternatives. He has organized with Occupy the Farm in the Bay Area since the elaboration of the first occupation in 2012.
Antonio Roman-Alcala is a dedicated student and teacher of urban sustainability who holds degrees in urban and agricultural sustainability. He is also a Permaculture-certified designer and green educator, and has designed environmental education programming for youth and adults. He co-founded Alemany Farm and the San Francisco Urban Agriculture Alliance, directed the documentary film “In Search of Good Food”, and helped form the California Food Policy Council. Antonio’s expertise in sustainability, environmental justice, and citizen science is steeped in his years of hands-on action, school-based learning, and collaborative, people-powered projects.
Claudia Serrato is a PhD candidate in the program of sociocultural anthropology at the University of Washington. Her dissertation research focuses on ancestral food memory and re-memory transmission through Indigenous cooking, taste, and eating from the modern Indigenous kitchenspace. Claudia holds two Master degrees (Anthropology and Chicana/o Studies) and a Bachelor degree in Gender, Ethnic and Multicultural Studies. Outside of the institution, she is a community and plant-based chef, a womb ecologist, a mother of two, and a social justice activist.
Ryan Thayer is a Community Organizer for Food Justice with Tenderloin Neighborhood Development (TNDC) and the Co-Coordinator of the Tenderloin Healthy Corner Store Coalition (TLHCSC). He sees access to healthy, fresh, nutritious, and affordable food as a fundamental right for individuals and families with limited access to resources. Spearheading organizing efforts around food access, education, and healthy corner stores Ryan seeks to improve San Francisco’s local food system through the empowerment of our most at need communities. Food Justice is the bridge that spans the gap between the deep rooted environmental consciousness movement and social equity movements.
Roberto Ariel Vargas, MPH, leverages UCSF science expertise and resources toward supporting health equity, in partnership with policymakers, public health partners and community-based collaborators. Roberto helped craft health policy to reduce consumption of sugary drinks in SF; the SF Soda Tax was one of these. He currently works to pull together community-based education and organizational policy efforts to reduce sugary drinks consumption and increase equity in water access and consumption. This work is focused primarily in SF communities carrying the burden of disease disparity — communities he is from. Roberto chairs the Bayview Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) Zone as part of this work to reduce obesity-related disease disparity.
Nicole Vosper is an anarchist organizer and agroecologist whose main interest is exploring how to dismantle and replace industrial and animal agriculture with systems that are life-sustaining and liberatory. She learned to grow food in prison during a 3.5 year sentence for participation in the historic campaign Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty. She teaches vegan permaculture courses and started a workers cooperative called Feed Avalon, which works towards local food resilience of her area – Street and Glastonbury, in Somerset, south west of the UK. She will be joining us by videoconference from the UK. Her website: http://www.emptycagesdesign.org/