Saturday, May 10, 2014

Here's to the sprouting season

Source:  Tufts Digital Collections and Archives.
I've been grubbing away quite diligently on my food/farm/history project since my last post, but the Spring 2014 teaching semester and conference schedule steamrolled over my good intentions to keep posting here occasionally.  Now that all of that is more or less over, I'm planning to get back into some regular blogging again.

That's not me grubbing in the dirt at the left, BTW.  It's a Tufts College (well, technically Jackson College, Tufts' then-new college for women) undergraduate helping to prepare the ground for the school's World War I garden in April of 1918, on the site of what's now the arts complex. Opening some new research into the history of food production on the Tufts campus is one part of what I've been doing this spring, in collaboration with a terrific group of students in this year's "New Food Activism: Roots and Visions" course.  I've just finished grading the final papers from that class, and they've opened up some exciting directions that I'll be pondering more deeply, including in blog posts here and some advance planning for next year's class and possible future projects at Tufts. 

Now that I'm not running back and forth to the other end of the state a couple of times a week,  I'm also looking forward to getting back into my Wendell Food Mapping project.  There are lots of great food- and farming-related things going on in the North Quabbin and environs these days, including the North Quabbin Community Co-op's impending move into a new storefront location in Orange, in partnership with the very local-food-friendly Mount Grace Land Trust.  History is still not quite at the table in these projects, though, and I'm hoping to keep looking for ways to get it there, using my own town of Wendell as a base.

Michelle Moon and I led a workshop at this year's National Council on Public History conference in Monterey, California, and will be offering it again at the September conference of the American Association for State and Local History in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  The NCPH workshop built on last year's Working Group conversations, which were held in part here on the blog, and they gave us a chance to think about the big challenges of fostering the kinds of critical conversations we're envisioning between food activists and public historians or museum interpreters.  We've realized that getting to the point of making a broad and politicized analysis about our food systems and all that they connect to (which is virtually everything about industrial capitalism!) takes time, and that we're all working through these questions in our own ways and at our own pace.  So how can we best support that often-gradual process at historic sites, and how can we combine it with the sense of deep urgency that both of us feel about what's happening at this nexus of economic and environmental issues?  Stay tuned as we continue to work on that, including in our book-manuscript-in-progress.

All of this overlaps and merges in multiple ways, and I'm really happy to feel that the various bits of work I've been able to do on these projects in the past four or five years are coalescing into some definite projects as well as some larger understandings.  Ironically, my actual gardening is 'way behind schedule this spring because there's been so much else going on, but things are sprouting there, too, and the garlic crop I planted last fall (above left) is going strong already.  This is a slippery metaphorical slope to start down, but it is good to feel the energy of spring and a new growing season, after a winter at the computer and in the classroom!

No comments:

Post a Comment