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Sidestepping gargantuan water puddles. A rain-drenched parking lot inside the gates of San Francisco's Fort Mason; home to numerous nonprofits, the Magic Theater, Greens restaurant and Stewart Brandt's Long Now Foundation, host tonight to Dmitry Orlov (Reinventing Collapse: The Soviet Example and American Prospects). How different the world three months ago -- a crisp star-dashed December night, scooting upstairs at North Beach's Broadway Studio's to promote our first Feeding Empty Bowls blog-a-thon to a post-November 4, fuzzy-bunny, doe eyed Green 960 audience. Tonight, hundreds of damp, silent non-ticket holders line the city-length hallway leading to the Cowell Theater, where over 400 have already settled in to take in Orlov's tips on how to survive the upcoming economic crash. Our major problems? Shelter. Transportation. Security. And of course FOOD!

Update: The fifth diary in our 36 hour blog-a-thon, JellyBearDemMom's Filling Empty Bowls: 36 Hours for Feeding America (5)  Honoring those Childhood Memories has just debuted. Please rec to help keep us front and center throughut the night. Thanks everyone for visiting, donating and spending time with us.

"In the past several months more than 30 nations have experienced food riots, and so far one government has fallen. Should high grain prices persist and shortages develop, you can expect to see the pendulum shift decisively away from free trade, at least in food. . . . Expect to hear the phrases ‘food sovereignty' and ‘food security' on the lips of every foreign leader." Michael Pollen, 10/2008

First up, call outs on the food crisis from across California ...

Contra Costa County Local residents go to food banks for help 2/4/09 By Laura Anthony

ANTIOCH, CA (KGO) -- The troubled economy is now affecting people who never thought they would have to ask for a helping hand. In eastern Contra Costa County, the need for free food has nearly doubled.

It's a line few people imagine they'd ever stand in -- the one that ends with bags of free food.

Today, the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano distributed bags to more than 1,000 people. A year ago, the number was 600.

(snip)

Herrie Downie is another first-timer. She's a part-time worker for the county. Her husband is in construction and neither can find regular work. They have a mortgage and three kids.

San Francisco
Pelosi Comes Home To Serve 35 Millionth Meal at St. Anthony's Dining Room, SF Homeless Blogger, 2/8/9

Today, lunch started serving about an hour late (line started moving for real at 12:25p) because today was a Special Day.

St. Anthony's Dining Room was honored by a visit from House Speaker Nancy Peolsi today, who was likewise honored to serve Meal Number 35,000,000 to a beautiful young lady named "Gigi" who was there to eat lunch with her Grandfather.
Ms. Pelosi had insisted on being here in San Francisco, at St. Anthony's Dining Room with our homeless.
Instead of back in Wasington D.C.
(snip)
Gigi was thrilled to be the 35 Millionth Diner today and was excited about meeting with Pelosi and having lunch with her.
Which was by the way, some kind of delicious chicken and mushroom entree, served over white rice with cut whole carrots and potatos on the side.
And to honor this special event, we were served little white or chocolate cupcakes with frosting and the word '35" swirled on the top in red icing.
We asked Gigi what she thought about Pelosi and what did they talk about during this special lunch together. Her and her Grandfather said that although Pelosi did not give specific details or make any promises, she said she supported having some $20 Billion Dollars worth of cash to fund the Food Stamp Program which is good news.

In a Feb. 13 SFGate Open Forum St. Anthony's is an economic barometer, Linda Pasquinucci, deputy executive director of St. Anthony Foundation, which operates St. Anthony Dining Room, writes:

St. Anthony volunteers, guests and staff have all noted a level of denial in newspaper columns and on blogs about the increase of services that will be required to meet needs that are mounting every day. People want to know that their neighbors won't go hungry when they lose their jobs. They don't want to see longer food lines or more food lines.

This denial isn't new.

It is the same denial that underestimates the number of seniors who have to choose between food and medicine, or the number of children who go to school hungry in the morning. And while coming to terms with the citywide economic challenges we all face is not easy, looking the other way will surely not be a solution. Grace, compassion, generosity and careful resource management will be critical to caring for all the people who have yet to turn to St. Anthony's. St. Anthony's has been here for San Francisco through seven recessions, 10 mayors, five wars, innumerable medical crises, and a major earthquake. We are the largest and oldest provider of free hot meals in the Tenderloin, and we are serving more meals now than we ever have.

Our Free Medical Clinic is one of the first in the nation. On many days, we have to turn people away. Our longevity of service gives us perspective, and from where we stand, it's clear that St. Anthony's hasn't even begun to see the effects of this declining economy. None of us has.

From Los Angeles

Back in November, Eddiec's Top Comments and Food Shortage Edition reported that the Los Angeles County Food Bank website stated "One out of every ten people in Los Angeles County is at risk of hunger."
and today?:"One out of every eight people in Los Angeles County is at risk of hunger.". To address this crisis, the LA Food Bank has initiated the Los Angeles Virtual Food Drive, inviting its citizens to host their own food drives online, saving the food bank time and resources.

They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.

Ingenuity & Tools for Action

The old normal is that life will go on just like before. The new normal is that nothing will ever be the same Rather than attempting to undertake the Herculean task of mitigating the unmitigatable-attempting to stop the world and point it in a different direction-it seems far better to turn inward and work to transform yourself into someone who might stand a chance, given the world’s assumed trajectory. Much of this transformation is psychological and involves letting go of many notions that we have been conditioned to accept unquestioningly. Some if it involves acquiring new skills and a different set of habits. Some of it is even physiological, changing one’s body to prepare it for a life that has far fewer creature comforts and conveniences, while requiring far more physical labor. (Dmitry Orlov)

In Elegy for a Toxic Elixir, Rebecca Solnit, says Pollan's premise gave voice to the notion that the love affair with globalization is, to put it succinctly, fini!  The fallacy inherent in manipulating a local economy to deflect servicing its own core needs in service to a global marketplace has come home to roost now that Western nations are feeling the dire impacts.

Sadly, as with most calamities, the already poor and hungry will pay and are already paying the greatest price-but we should be careful about being too mournful about this moment in history. The system was designed to produce their poverty and hunger, to grind them down and discard them. When it worked as intended, farmers in India and Korea were committing suicide by the thousand; Mexican farmers were being shoved off their land and essentially dispatched on the long tramp north; Brazil's soybean bonanza was leading to deforestation, displacement of small farmers, soil degradation, and doing nothing for that nation's hungry. The same stories could be told about many nations in Africa-and about American small farmers. It was a system designed to destroy the many for the profit of the few, and it had been producing suffering, hunger, and despair all along. Though its collapse may produce yet more suffering, it opens the way to systems and ideologies that could produce far less. Already unsteady as the World Trade Organization and the Free Trade Area of the Americas failed, globalization itself is faltering, as is the rationale that it is good for the majority of us. It never was, and now the evidence has won the argument.

And so, what lies before us, while assuredly unstable and uncertain, is undoubtedly ripe for a movement which champions the "local, durable, humane, imaginative, inclusive, and open to ongoing improvisation, rather than locked in place as a fixed ideology."

Some Perspectives on Food Waste

  1. Freegans, a Columbia University project focusing on 'creative resistence and the culture of food' deems dumpster diving "a political statement and a way of life. Another aspect of their project focuses on foraging -- edible plants and how to cook them.
  1. TreeHugger gives the low down on sell-by dates inExpired Food is Much Desired and points visitors to Approved Food where online shoppers can purchase 'seasoned yet safe' groceries for signficant discounts.
  1. Catch the Canadian Centre for Architecture slideshow of 99 Tools for Actions. Highlights include Umbrella houses, Clever tentoffers campers city home,  #61. Bicycle Plants Wartime Gardens (all you need is gardening gloves, pogo-stick shovel, seed-bank briefcase, and an integrated wheelbarrow/bike) and #75. Concrete Casting Tubes Grow Lettuce
  1. Check out my fledgling WiserEarth group Transition Marin, where I'm compiling research for a new Doing it Yourself Discussion Topic.  

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Update: Moving right along, please rec Filling Empty Bowls: 36 Hours for Feeding America (5)  Honoring those Childhood Memories by JellyBearDemMom.

Participating Diarists this weekend (all times Eastern):

Overnight:  JellybearDemMom

Sunday, February 15, 2009

9 a.m.: blue jersey mom

12 noon: rb137

3 p.m.: Timroff

6 p.m.: Meteor Blades

9 p.m.: srkp23

Revisit previous diaries:

Noweasels FEBI
Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse FEB2: US/Afghanistan Food Justice
Hardhat Democrat: People are Starving Now

Endnote

A student of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, the founder of the San Francisco Zen Center, once sheepishly asked him whether he could sum up the essence of Zen in a single sentence. "Everything changes," said Suzuki Roshi without missing a beat, then moved on to another question. Now that everything has changed, the despair of four years ago-not just that Bush had been re-elected but that he would prevail forever in a nation that would forever believe his lies and follow his cult of imperial war and climate-change denial and free-market fundamentalism-has vanished like morning mist.

Originally posted to boatsie on Sat Feb 14, 2009 at 06:03 PM PST.

Also republished by DK Feeding America.

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