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The Power of Food: Growing Together



On Sunday, November 5, 2017 at Shortridge High School, I participated in The Spirit & Place Power Festival event The Power of Food: Seven Short Stories. I signed up for this event not knowing if I would be selected as a storyteller. When I heard I had been selected, I was excited and then I started to panic. I couldn’t figure out which story to tell; I have so many. Typically when I tell stories, I write them on my garden blog. I can write as much or as little as I want. I can revise and change the story if needed. This event called for me to tell a story and stay within a time limit. I won’t even say how many drafts I wrote for this event to figure out what I wanted to say, but I am glad I took advantage of this opportunity to advocate for growing your own food.

I was the second storyteller during the event. I had plenty of support in the audience: my mom, my dad, my husband, my sons and my two nieces. If it wasn’t challenging enough to narrow down my story, I also decided that I wasn’t going to use any notecards. I told myself it is going to either go well or it’s not, but nonetheless it will be a great growth experience. I talk in front of people every day whether it is my high school students I am teaching or the teachers I coach in literacy. If I mess up, I can reteach it later. For this, there would be no part two, no do over and my toughest critic was in the audience, my dad. My dad would be the one, when my sisters and I were in school, who would tell you how much you fidgeted, how much you were slouching, how many times you said um or how you barely made eye contact when we were in numerous programs at school. He always said, “You can’t improve, if someone won’t tell you the truth.” Yes, that is true, but sometimes you don’t want to hear the truth at the moment you are told.

I’m glad to report, I made it through my story and my dad said I did a great job. It was not only an honor to participate and tell my story but I also enjoyed hearing the powerful stories of the other storytellers. I learned the following from my fellow storytellers:

  • Linda - Food can be used to show kindness.

  • Erica - A healthy lifestyle is easier than we think and we don’t have to be miserable while doing it.

  • Sharrona - Food pantries can strip your dignity, but the Lawrence Community Gardens is giving people their dignity back.

  • Matthew - It's hard to eat healthy when you live in a food desert and lack transportation.

  • Brandon - A closet continually stocked with food at a middle school helped turn the school around.

  • Dan - Victory gardens boosted morale during wartime. (On stage, Dan Wakefield, novelist, screenwriter, and journalist, read excerpts from his novel Going All the Way. While sitting next to him in the audience, he told me about victory gardens.)

I am grateful to The Kitchen Community, Shortridge High School, Growing Places Indy, Flanner House and Green Bean Delivery for presenting this event. Click here to download the audio of my story “Growing Together.”

#poweroffood #spiritandplacefestival

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