Members of IEI attend RAFI’s Come to the Table Conference in Charlotte

“Nothing about us without us”

This was a common refrain at RAFI’s Come to the Table Conference (CTTT) in Charlotte, NC. Over 450 faith leaders, food workers, farmers and more gathered for two days of workshops, plenary, and sessions about “uprooting hunger and cultivating justice”.

Opening plenary of CTTT Conference with Dr. Monica White, “The Black Farmers’ Historian”

“Nothing about us without us”

This was echoed by a Catawba speaker who shared the history of his people in the Catawba river region near Charlotte. Faith leaders on a panel about sacred places and food discussed what it looks like to create programming based on the ideas and needs of people benefitting from ministries. Another speaker shared that making sure that everyone contributes in a meeting also means recognizing who’s missing to begin with. A youth empowerment workshop led by youth!

Workshop presenters Megan Bolejack and Gini Knight walk participants through a consent-based decision making process around food councils.

“Nothing about us without us”

For IEI, that has looked like slowing down and asking our faith leaders and partners more questions. Many of the themes presented at the Come to the Table Conference are those we hear from our friends: How do we lead with equity? What does feeding ourselves sustainably look like? Can we get started without any funding? That leads us to ask questions of them like: What do you need from groups like us? What has sustainability looked like in the past? What’s your plan to listen and act meaningfully with no money and with ideal funding? Our conversations match the ones I’ve had at CTTT: we don’t always (often) have the answers, but we know each other’s “why”. As IEI and others try to connect to new people, new places, and new ideas, knowing that reason behind our work is our way forward. 

“Nothing about us without us”

 

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