Gulf Coast, 9 years later: Still unfinished.

The link below is from my New Orleans blog that details our life here post Katrina: today August 29th, it will be 9 years since that terrible day when our region suffered through the hurricane and then through the much larger federal levee disaster.

We community organizers learned that we needed to be constantly available to our family, our friends and neighbors (including our farmers and fishers) as they rebuilt their lives and businesses. And we had to carry the story of citizen-led recovery to our colleagues in other places while remaining vigilant when home to help combat bad ideas from our decision makers.
We still need to do that work unfortunately.
Some of this piece may be too local, but the sentiment is clear I think. Basically, the years of 2010/2011 were when we really began to really feel the pressure from corporations trying to find deals; this post tells some of what we were going through:

“We are now coming up to 6 years after the federal levee system disintegrated in New Orleans. When we look around, do we see our old neighbors, a resurgence in small mom and pop businesses, and a generally more livable city than before?
I’d say no….”

Complete post from New Orleans Can Thrive


Innovation through your people

Read a recent article on innovation, and I think the point about how to keep innovation alive, even with departing staff (or board) is crucial for market and food organizations to think about.

“Organizations really need to reexamine their management attitudes and practices within a new and more sophisticated framework of innovation. It is important that everyone actively seek out and support the human agents of innovation through, not only the best practices of good management, but also creative initiatives aimed toward innovation at all levels of the business. Assuming a degree of mutual trust and respect has been properly developed, when good people get ready to leave, organizations need to step up their efforts to maintain some sort of ongoing relationship.

A much broader, more human-centered framework for innovation may take on many forms, but could include a range of opportunities to have departing talent on the hook as speakers or mentors within a group. There should also be incentives to build joint ventures with the most entrepreneurial of the bunch, including seed money for new enterprises that feed into market niches of the organization’s endeavors.”

And if you missed this free workshop offer in an earlier post, here it is again:

Maps Made Of Regional Foods

Love these maps; However, wouldn’t it be great if we could change the US map to something less destructive and harder to convert to sugar? Or is that just wishful thinking?


“regional food” maps

Childhood hunger

Link to a NBC news story about kids who only eat in school; this is an epidemic problem within the industrial food system that those of us working to build an alternative system must address in our initiatives. We can assist those working on school food issues by using our place and products to offer comfort and good food with just a little incentive…

How about markets offering a case of free fruit near the end of the day so kids have it for later in the day or offering a market incentive for high marks (think 5.00 token to the A students)? That token, along with bus tokens and all offered during SNAP incentive seasons could allow families to expand their time together and expand their meals.

Tomorrow is another holiday in the New Orleans area and in many other Italian-American areas- St. Joseph’s Day. St. Joseph is the patron saint of the island of Sicily and it’s said during the famines of the Middle Ages, residents prayed to St. Joseph to deliver them, and the altars are built in thanks on his feast day, March 19.In the late 19th century, New Orleans was a major port of immigration for Italians from Sicily. Many settled in the French Quarter, nicknamed “Little Palermo” at the time. Devout Catholics promise altars for answered prayers and favors granted, such as healing or safe delivery.The food on an altar is supposed to be donated, or “begged.” Countless people work on the altars: Altar societies, church members, Catholic and non-Catholic spend untold hours, starting at the beginning of the year. Many New Orleaniains try to make a “pilgrimage” to a number of altars on the feast day, to churches, store and even to private homes.


and for those of you looking, those who secretly steal a lemon from a St. Joseph’s Day altar will get a husband. For those not in the search, you can just ask for a fava bean: Legend has it that you will never be broke as long as you carry a fava bean.

St. Joseph's Day Altar

St. Joseph’s Day Altar

Be a sign up genius

Whenever I get to farmers market conferences, I learn a few new things: this time, I learned about from Jaime Moore, Columbus area market manager, Ohio Farmers Market Management Network Board member AND “Central Ohio’s Agricultural Queen” with farm Wayward Seed.

Jaime uses it to manage her three area farmers markets volunteers and based on her to-do list, she needs it…
It looks like a great tool to use (and is free) for market organizations of many sizes and types.

Free Human-Centered Design Workshop Offered is happy to announce the second iteration of Human-Centered Design for Social Innovation, a course that we’ve created in conjunction with Acumen. This seven-week course will get you started using the human-centered design process to create innovative, effective, and sustainable solutions for social change in your community. Last year, we had over 13,000 people sign up for this course. They formed over 4,200 design teams bringing human-centered design to 134 countries. Want to learn more? Watch this short video.

How does the course work? This course is designed with a group-guided learning structure. This means that in order to participate, you’ll need to form a team of between two and six people. Once you have your team, you’ll meet each week to learn the human-centered design process via the readings and workshop materials that we’ve created for you. Along the way, you’ll also tackle a social sector design challenge in your own community.

How much does the course cost? The course is free. 

When does the course start and how long does it last? The course begins on March 31, 2014 and is designed to be conducted over a minimum of seven weeks. However, you can also choose to do the course over a longer period of time if a different pace is right for your team.  

Do I need to be a designer to sign-up for the course? This course is open to all and does NOT require any prior design experience.

What if I’ve taken the course already? We’ve created a bonus chapter for those who want to scope their own design challenge. Even if you learned with us last summer, please consider furthering your knowledge of human-centered design by joining us again!

Who else is taking the course? You’ll join teams from around the world taking this course as part of the leadership classes offered by Acumen. Last year, many participants found it valuable to take the course with their coworkers and explore how human-centered design can add new perspectives to their work–whether it be applied to nonprofits, social enterprises, educational institutions, or international aid organizations. In addition, you’ll have the opportunity to share your learnings, ask questions, and get to know other course participants from around the world via an online Google+ community.

Interested in signing up? Register by March 30th at:

More information? +Acumen course ambassadors are holding precourse Meetups in cities around the world. Attend a Meetup to learn more and to meet other human-centered designers interested in taking the course. More questions? Email


First Taste

Fat Tuesday food

Today is a holiday in my city and region, combining the best parts of tradition and public spectacle, and food is an important part of the tradition of Carnival. Our own Poppy Tooker talked about it on NPR last week.
Happy Mardi Gras everyone.

Rex decrees:
“I do hereby ordain decree the following…that during the great celebration all commercial endeavors be suspended. That the children of the realm be freed from their studies and be permitted to participate in the pageantry.”
And to the city’s political leaders, he added:
“That the mayor and City Council cease and desist from governance.
“We will fulfill the will of the people and turn over the key to the city to you, so that tomorrow in New Orleans will be a day of abandon,” Mayor Landrieu said. “Happy Mardi Gras.”

all to eat on a Mardi Gras day…

Non-profits and content marketing


Trader Joe’s Ex-President To Turn Expired Food Into Cheap Meals

The former president of Trader Joe’s, is determined to repurpose the perfectly edible produce slightly past its sell-by date that ends up in the trash. (That happens in part because people misinterpret the labels, according to a report out this week from Harvard and the Natural Resources Defense Council.) To tackle the problem, Rauch is opening a new market early next year in Dorchester, Mass., that will prepare and repackage the food at deeply discounted prices.

The project is called the Daily Table. Here’s what he shared with NPR’s Scott Simon, edited for brevity.

Simon: What gave you the idea?

Rauch: It’s the idea about how to bring affordable nutrition to the underserved in our cities. It basically tries to utilize this 40 percent of this food that is wasted. This is, to a large degree, either excess, overstocked, wholesome food that’s thrown out by grocers, etc. … at the end of the day because of the sell-by dates. Or [it’s from] growers that have product that’s nutritionally sound, perfectly good, but cosmetically blemished or not quite up for prime time. [So we] bring this food down into a retail environment where it can become affordable nutrition


Trader Joe's Ex-President To Turn Expired Food Into Cheap Meals : The Salt : NPR.


from a recent Parks and Recreation, a comedy show set in small town Indiana. I happened to catch it when it aired (do we still say that-aired?) and enjoyed every small joke in it. Someone that writes for this show has to have a family member that runs a market.

Click to watch

Knight Foundation supports research for farmers markets

As a member of Farmers Market Coalition’s research team, I for one am very excited to receive this support from the Knight Foundation and their Prototype Fund. This pilot will allow FMC to listen to markets’ needs and ultimately fashion dynamic solutions to upload simple data (customer counts, number of new products offered, staff time dedicated to outreach for at-risk populations) to then see that data in an appealing info-graphic style for use with market partners as well as to see it aggregated on a national map with other markets data.
Please let me know if you have ideas or experience in data work in your market that may lend itself to iterations of this prototype and please look forward to more information throughout the year on this Farmers Market Metrics work happening at FMC.

Class gap: Obesity declines in well-off kids, but climbs in the poor

In 2009 to 2010, 26 percent, or roughly 1 in 4 kids whose parents have at most a high school education, were obese, compared to 7 percent, or roughly 1 in 14, kids whose parents have at least a four-year college degree, according to Frederick. He cited data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys and the National Survey of Children’s Health.