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Amy’s Proposal #1: Food Justice


Currently there doesn’t appear to be an online space dedicated to the sharing of stories and advocacy efforts of young food activists. Given the recent growth of the food justice movement, it is important to highlight their stories and work, and create a platform within which young activists can connect, share, collaborate and organize efficiently. This web-based tool will be a food justice participatory mapping and storytelling social networking site. It will allow young food activists in NYC to map their work, day to day actions and stories as it pertains to food activism. Various applications will be available to users, including apps like Dipity, which allows for the creation of multi-media interactive timelines, and a collaborative mapping app, like Google maps.

  • Mikaela is a 19 year old high school graduate from PS235 who recently got into urban farming through her involvement with her high school garden. She’s attending Pratt in the fall (undecided major for now) and wants to find other young people her age who share similar interests — she’s thinking of starting a student group to work on food access issues around Pratt, or help build school gardens. She’s an avid Facebook user and tweets non-stop and has a very strong online presence.
  • Zooey is a 21 year old very committed community organizer working for Just Food and going to school at Lehman. She’s very new to technology and relies on her colleagues to handle the social media part of their work. She comes from a long legacy of community activists though, and shares stories about her parents and grandparents constantly, as her inspiration, and to inspire others to learn and act. Everyone keeps telling her to document her story. She’s also the go-to person for understanding food policy and is working with her colleagues to find a way to digitize and simplify information about current food policy advocacy efforts.
  • Oliver is a City College graphic designer who just submitted to the CUNY Fight the Fizz anti-soda counter advertising media contest. He just started learning about the horrors of food corporations and the negative impact they’re having on health and wants to start blogging about it and posting his related art and finding out what others are doing in this area.
Use Case Scenario
The site will be built with WordPress and users can participate in any aspect of the site — whether it’s to find others to collaborate with, learn about the latest food policy actions, organize events, or simply share their own related work.
Full Fledged
  • Profiles via BuddyPress will be installed so every user (or organization) has their own profile.
  • Participatory mapping tool (GoogleMaps?) — this would be like Yelp + RealTimeFarms and serves as a resource that helps advocacy efforts. For example, the maps could provide information (eg, about, time, hours, location, reviews, contacts) on CSAs, community gardens, school gardens, restaurants that are locally sourced, farmers markets, organizations, events, etc.
  • Dipity is a free digital timeline website and can be embedded on other websites. Timetoast is a similar free program. This will allow people to share their stories, upload media, videos, photographs, news stories, (in the similar vein as Facebook’s new timeline motif). The idea here is to provide people with the space to tell their stories of how they became food activists (or more broadly, what led them to where they are now). The other way this can be used is to track policy change/advocacy efforts (eg, what’s going on with the Farm Bill now).
  • Event calendar — WordPress has several plug ins to address this feature.
  • Action alerts — users can send out action alerts or petitions to sign
  • Video embedding
  • Twitter feeds that pulls in tweets based on hashtags
The MVP version would include the WordPress and BuddyPress install, calendar of events and embedding of a digital timeline app. This version would also be built within the CUNY Commons and target food activists with the CUNY system. Any interested student can join the group and add their stories, events, places of interest, action alerts, meeting minutes, etc. Groups like the GC Food Studies Collective or the CUNY Food Justice Community could have an online presence here, for example.

It will take 5-6 months to implement the full version, and about 2-3 months to implement the MVP. I’ve created a few very very basic WordPress sites through the Commons already, but to customize and embed outside programs like Dipity and GoogleMaps will take some time to learn. Also, I’d like to learn how to use Photoshop or other tools to create images and logos.

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