HOW THIS STARTED
Black Food Sovereignty Council
The Black Food Sovereignty Council started in 2018 was formed to directly address and convene Black-Identified and African-American people working in the food systems space. Black-identified food system interested stakeholders met during 2016-2017 to discuss how to advance the food justice centered work that was shuttered in 2012. The work that the members of the Multnomah County Food Policy Council started with community was halted by municipal powers and community advisors were disbanded.
The impact was damaging and caused the delay of critical program and policy activation thus a delayed justice and equity benchmark around food work for Black and Brown peoples in the area. This sparked a fracturing of work in the Portland area (similarly in Seattle) and drove dollars into white-led organizations that were able to structurally dominate the "food access" (code word justice) and build programs and services in communities of color in lieu of POC leadership.
The Black Food Sovereignty Council started the work of building common language among Black-identified stakeholders from across the tri-county area; Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas. The group had two leaders step-up; Nikyona Phillips and Shantae Johnson, and the work began formally!
Work since then has included events, policy conversations, surveys, workshops, gatherings, trainings, and the launch of WeGrow PDX, Back to the Root Summit, a Farmers Market, and the elevation of the importance of Black-centered voices in the PNW food justice movement!
Because of the need for a more business and economic development-centered approach to the long list of food systems related challenges in the PNW, it was determined that a Coalition of stakeholders that were growing, producing, manufacturing, distributing, or selling/providing products to customers was needed to help build the community wealth building strategy to support businesses that were already involved in this work.
Black Food Sovereignty Coalition
The Black Food Sovereignty Coalition is the response to that need to provide a space for non-voting members, businesses, and food programs to convene and build a broader interest in the building of a stronger organizational governance, land ownership, and program development network in this area.
As part of a broader strategic movement in the Pacific Northwest by Africans, African-Americans, and Black-Identified Peoples, a group of Portland and SW Washington growers, policy makers, advocates, practitioners, and developers are working to stabilize the human and systems infrastructure to advance a Black Food Movement that aligns with the culture, history, and conditions of Black (and POC) peoples in this area.
Other efforts are being advanced in other NW cities in the Puget Sound and Eastern WA and OR that have been transforming spaces and cultivating land and growing food, herbs, flowers, and programs as part of a business, hobby, initiative, or lifelong passion.
Please keep in touch and we look forward to talking and meeting you soon!
BFS Council & Coalition