By guest-blogger, Mollie Laffin-Rose
Plant a single seed and a garden will grow. The residents of a small Tennessee town called Signal Mountain (with a population of almost 8,000) demonstrated that they’re living by that adage when they adopted the United States’ first green foods resolution six weeks ago. A green foods resolution is a formal commitment to supporting environmentally-friendly farming practices, such as the production of organic, locally-grown and plant-based foods (the cultivation of which is much less detrimental to the environment than animal agriculture is).
On October 12, after a single session of deliberation and a unanimous vote, the local council of Signal Mountain officially resolved that the town will “promote the expansion of the number of Farmers Markets, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs, community gardens, and other venues which provide healthful plant-based foods.”
The full story behind Signal Mountain’s green foods resolution is a shining example of the power that lies in thinking globally, scaling down, and acting locally to inspire change. The resolution was brought to the table by one man: David Cook. A teacher of American Studies, Democracy and Peace Studies, Cook also writes a weekly column for the local newspaper. Each week, he reflects on a national issue and applies it to local life. Many of Cook’s pieces have an environmental and vegetarian bent, and he considers his column an attempt to change how his neighbors live and see the world around them.
With this aim in mind, earlier this autumn, Cook submitted a column on the importance of green foods resolutions. Several weeks later, Councilman Paul Hendricks contacted Cook to express his interest in a local resolution, and to let him know that it was under consideration. At the next public meeting, Cook spoke about his column, and the five-member council passed the nation’s first green foods resolution. “It was so democratic,” Cook said. “This has really been about food democracy and political democracy.”
Cook exudes patience and hope. “I see this as a seed,” he said. “Something will really grow out of this. I think it is part of many things that are moving in the right direction, including community-supported agriculture, organic farming, a greater commitment to vegetarianism, more car-pooling, more questioning. It’s all tied together.”
As for how the rest of us can act locally by thinking globally, Cook emphasizes being hard-headed and resourceful. “Get practical,” he said. “Attend council meetings, write letters to the editor, march, boycott, pray, weep, hug trees. Literally, read and write. You use whatever power you have – leverage connections, or whatever comes into your life each day – and you try to improve the world through that. You try to have the right relationship.”