Some cool food images:
Food Not Bombs flyer
Image by Toban Black
Note the heart in the bottom-right of this photo
Here’s an article I wrote about a Food Not Bombs event in early February, 2006 –
"Food Not Bombs in London, Ontario"
The Food Tent
Image by Jon Person
After a refreshing shower, I stroll to the far end of Davis Park, where several pointy white tents are joined together. Near the tents are two portable banks of sinks. This must be the food area, and it is also well organized. Across from the sinks is a large piece of plywood to which newpapers and notices are attached. I freeze for a moment when I realize this is some residents’ only connection to the outside world. Their televisions and comforts of home are gone now.
The corners of notices from FEMA and the government flap in the gusty wind, pinned down by a stampede of staples. The daily newspaper rattles noisily, drowning out the sound of returning birds. The weekly comics pull a smirk to my face as they are stapled low on the board so children can read them. Thoughtful and thorough.
With dinner time approaching, people begin to gather by trees near the tent. Workers dressed in blue t-shirts and suspenders, firemen, National Guard, grey AmeriCorps shirts, and the miscellany of residents. Many workers have smudges on their faces, and it looks good. If I had not just showered, I could wear my dirt proudly here.
Meals are served three times a day for everyone. There are no punch cards or wrist bands, noone is turned away. A trailer between the food tent and portable sinks prepares meals for us. My stomach churns, trying to digest the delicious smell of ribeye steak and potatoes. The smell is too much, and a line forms out of nowhere.
As I bring my tray into the tent, I’m surprised by the noise. There are a lot of people here, and no table is empty. But the air is friendly, warmed by the collective relief of workers finally able to rest. I feel the sense of belonging, having earned my place through work. I don’t know anybody here, yet they all feel closer than a stranger.
The mini town of Davis Park is almost Utopian in its blind acceptance of people for its services, and the only currency accepted here is effort. The ten dollar bill in my pocket has not seen the sun yet, and it feels unusual yet very evolved. No doubt this operation sucks quietly at emergency funds behind the scenes, yet the appearance of this operation would be such a good model for the rest of society, if only it were possible. I start to see the idealistic intent of Communism, yet the thought is quickly banished by the reality of its failure and destitute citizens elsewhere in the world.
Indeed, how do you turn every town into Davis Park, where you are guaranteed both freedom and comfort in exchange for only your effort? America is already a mixture of Socialist programs (trash, 911, fire dept, police) and Capitalism. Perhaps Socialism, despite the bad vibe it gets from the age of MacCarthyism, is well-suited for "human-survival" services. Keep us safe and able to live, and in return we will offer our work to keep the system alive. Then, perhaps Capitalism fills the role of services beyond survival: the TV, the vacation, etc.
With this short day already drawing to a close, I return to Pratt, wondering what steps society must take today to reach this kind of harmony. But recovery is the goal right now, and tomorrow I will see what FEMA is doing about it.