Food Democracy, Brisbane


The event explored Food Democracy in relation to local Brisbane. We collaborated with Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy in order to strengthen the food program of the Embassy. The food program is centered around food distribution to families in need. We were looking at possibilities to widen the operation and to address the problems of Food Democracy in relation to the operations of the Embassy. This was highly ambitious. The complexity of the issues and the scope of the problems are immense.

What happened was extraordinary. In short- more than 45 participants were involved during the process and worked very hard for 8 days- unpaid, outside of the official curriculum, within the formal environment of the university for activist purposes. All happened in Brisbane. Socially responsive communication, extradisciplinary investigation, direct action. Local, interstate an International participants- students, academics, activists and professionals. Two and a half days of intensive symposium, than workshop, than public intervention. And what matters, a high level of genuine collaboration among participants was established. And we sat around the sacred fire in Brisbanes Musgrave park.

Talking about outcomes is a tricky thing, because the relationalities developed are many and not all are obviousy material. But here are some of them:

We developed several poster campaigns, with seven posters all together. Some to critique the existing food system, some to build awareness about the Embassy and it's activities, the sacred fire and some to connect the Embassy, based in Musgrave park, with its immediate neighborhoods.

We created three online platforms, including a platform free of direct corporate and government control that uses a special mobile phone knowledge sharing tool. This platform is now ready to go and training sessions have started after the event. But it is easy to use, so actually in most of the cases the manual that is on the web site should be enough. Have a look at it here, download ojoVoz and get involved.

Various communication strategies, a sticker and zine campaign. Also an online viral video was produced- have a look at it here and share it

And we did a direct action in a supermarket. Kangaroo meat was bought at Coles supermarket, cooked in Musgrave park, neatly arranged and given as a free gift to consumers coming straight out of Coles- with bags full of food in their hands. Creating a temporary autonomous zone, creating a situation where food was not a commodity. A free gift from the Aboriginal Embassy to non Aboriginal people? Food is a fundamental human right and everyone should be entitled to free and healthy food? And the conversations started...with an invitation to the Sovereign BBQ in Musgrave Park.

You can listen to a part of the conversation we had when we were planning the project here.

A photo journalistic project was created, showing another side of the Embassy, one that is not visible due to the biased media representations.

Another zine project is being developed and is planed to be ready in January and distributed via the Embassy's food distribution network. Two online platforms will be ready end of the month.

Now, this is mostly just descriptions without giving you much context, background and strategies. Also, this are only partly the outcomes as the whole event is a social medium and it can't be reduced to it's material outcomes.

While many of the projects were finished in the course of the event, some of us have been working on the projects that are bigger and took time to unfold in their full potential. Not only that, participants have organized to help fundraising as well as also volunteering for the food distribution and we will continued to work further with the Embassy on several levels. Keep the fire burning!

What is also good is that we were able to document formal and informal situations of the event process with photo and sound media and have also created a special internal online archive platform that will serve for research purposes on how to develop such events - as social media for pedagogy, research and socially responsive public communication further. Evaluation of this will of course take time.

Here two things we would like to share with you now.

Among other things at the event a manifesto for Aboriginal Sovereignty, for all Australian first nation people was presented on the conference. The document is now being discussed nationwide. Here you can hear the impressive young Phil Winzer reading the manifesto.

Also, listen to Aunty Karen here as she talks about the Food Program and the Aboriginal community.

It was fascinating, inspiring and incredibly enriching to learn about the Aboriginal struggle lead by the Embassy and it is fantastic that we could create this collaboration. Moments of genuine, true collaboration magic happened.

Some of the participants said that this was a life changing experience. Many of us felt that this event showed what academia should be and that this is why we went to work at the university and became academics in the first place. We wish that more of such open spaces would exist.


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