This blog post comes from Chloé Rice, a 2012 Regional Field Organizer for the West Coast.
This year’s Summer Leadership Training was held at the lushly forested UC Santa Cruz campus back on Sept. 6-9. We’ve been busy putting plans made that weekend into action all over the region, but it’s never too late to reflect!
We spent 4 action-packed days at the Gatehouse on the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food System’s farm, carrying on their long-rooted history of student organized change—as it was students who organized and started what has now grown into a 25 acre university farm!
Participants traveled hundreds of miles to come together for this retreat by car, bus, train, and bike, and in such a short amount of time truly created a community of earnest respect and support of one another in making an unfamiliar space into a home away from home. When we weren’t engaged deep into workshops at “Gatehouse University” as we coined it, we were off teaching each other goofy games or digging into some real delicious meals and conversation together.
We even got to spend some time gettin’ our hands and feet in the soil, working up a sweat at the Kresge Student Garden on another side of campus. In the end we learned a lot about ourselves and each other, and came away with new knowledge of the inner-workings of the campus food system and how impactful change at this level will be on the broader system.
Along with new strategies and concrete plans to put them into practice, we left the retreat with an expanded network of support in this movement for a food system that truly nourishes people & planet.
Here’s what student Crystal, a sophomore at UC Santa Cruz who calls L.A. home, had to say about her time at the training:
“This weekend means so much to me. I knew it was going to be fun going in, but the amount of information I’m walking away with is amazing. I learned more about organizing, tabling, and all the other good stuff, but I also learned more about myself as an individual, which is always a plus. On the organizing side, I now know more about my capabilities through the “Types of Leadership” and the “Stakeholder Meeting Simulation” workshops. I’ve also made connections with a handful of new faces that I’ve met here, and I hope to keep in touch with them and follow up with the projects on their campuses.
Another factor that made this weekend priceless to me is that the various workshops created a space that made me feel very open. I was able to express my opinions freely and discuss them with people who care about the same issues as I do, which is something very special to me.
This weekend is a very valuable chapter in my real food journey, that started only about nine months ago. I’m really appreciative of David, Alex, Kitty, and Chloe for giving me these tools to help bring success to organizations that I’m involved in. On a larger scale, I really felt that this weekend also reminded me of why I’m involved in the food realm to begin with. The content and the discussions that we openly had really boosted my persistence gauge—when it comes to working on food issues, don’t give up!
I’m really glad that I ended up coming up to Santa Cruz this weekend. It was really awesome to hear other students’ positive comments about the campus I attend. Also, it was a rewarding experience to be asking the RFOs questions while simultaneously being asked questions about RFC from other students. It also felt good to have other students ask me about my work with the Real Food Calculator at UCSC, and with the Real Food Calculator Working Group. This weekend will mean even more once I apply these tactics and guidelines to the campaign and efforts at our school. I really hope I can have this experience with RFC again.”