Saturday, September 23, 2017

Sharing the Communal Meal

One of our immigrants came to the country and our Catholic Charities received her...She was hungry from her long flight  and it had been a long day and it was in the middle of the day.  She got to a Catholic agency and they had prepared a meal for her. But she wouldn't eat. Finally, they said, "I thought you were hungry"  She said, Well I am. But where are the others?  (She was asked) What do you mean? In my culture, we would never eat alone. Eating is a communal activity to be sure that there is enough for everybody And if you ate alone, that would be a sign that you were hoarding food, that you were thinking only of yourself.
The Most Rev. John C. Wester, Archbishop of Santa Fe, shared this story during our joint appearance on The Archbishop's Hour radio show on Friday, September 22. This is a story he had heard from Sister Marilyn Lacey told in San Francisco.

"I've never forgotten that story because of our immigrants have a lot to teach us," said Archbishop Wester, who noted the importance of caring for others and eating together.

Bishop Wester's point is that the imperative to feed the hungry and to seek justice is part of our Catholic Social teaching. "It's a call of the Gospel. It's a call of basic human decency that we would want to share our food," said Archbishop Wester.

The topic of hunger was chosen for this show to promote the Feed the Hungry Day on Saturday, Sept. 30, an opportunity to examine viable ways to address hunger within our diocesan borders and to respond in practical ways. I will be a participant in a panel, and Archbishop Wester will end the day with a Mass.

I had appeared on the Archbishop's Hour previously (in April), so I was very familiar with the format and comfortable with speaking on the radio. As usual, host Mary Woods moderated the conversation with ease and asked the right questions to keep the conversation flowing. We addressed many topics related to food insecurity in New Mexico, the Interfaith Hunger Coalition, the importance of local sourcing, and the need to look at the big picture when addressing hunger. We also discussed this Tuesday's End Hunger Summit.

It was an honor and a privilege to share the airwaves with Archbishop Wester.
Listen Here
(The actual interview starts at about Minute 17)

Mary Woods

Thursday, September 21, 2017

A News Release about Tuesday's End Hunger Summit

For Immediate Release
Contact: Dolores Gonzales, NCNMEDD, New Mexico Cares Foundation, Inc.
1-(866)-699-4927, (505) 395-2678
Sept. 20, 2017
Fourth Annual End Hunger in New Mexico Summit to
Implement the New Mexico Action Plan to End Hunger

Santa Fe – Organizers of the Fourth Annual End Hunger in New Mexico Summit are rolling out the New Mexico Cares Foundation, Inc. New Mexico Action Plan to End Hunger at the summit this year. The Plan was driven by last year’s Summit of afternoon discussions of what were the most important issues surrounding hunger in New Mexico. The summit will take place this year Tuesday, Sept. 26th, from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Embassy Suites, 1000 Woodward Pl. NE, in Albuquerque.

(See Schedule)

Governor Susana Martinez has proclaimed, September 25th Through the 29th, 2017, as “END

“For the past three years we’ve really concentrated on raising awareness about the hunger problem New Mexico has,” said Dolores Gonzales, Special Projects Manager for the North Central New Mexico Economic Development District’s Non-Metro New Mexico Area Agency on Aging. “This year we want to focus on the four initiatives of our Plan.” Gonzales also serves as the chairwoman of the Summit’s planning committee.

Currently New Mexico is No.2 in the country for childhood hunger and the State is one of the top 10 for seniors facing food insecurity.

According to a study by the New Mexico Association of Food Banks and Feeding America, the
state’s hunger statistics are sobering – 70,000 people seek food assistance each week; 89 percent of hungry households have an annual income of less that $20,000, 75 percent report purchasing inexpensive, unhealthy food as the most common way to have at least some food at home to eat. The Missing Meals study revealed that low-income people in our state miss 117,140,870 meals per year.

While many people associate hunger with homelessness, many are the working poor. Low-income New Mexicans provide 42 percent of their meals out of their own pockets—that’s more than 367 million meals per year. Nearly 371 million meals per year come through government safety net programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and free and reduced cost breakfasts and lunches in schools. Three percent of meals—29 million—come through hundreds of faith and community based charitable programs. A full 13 percent of meals for low-income New Mexicans are unaccounted for!

While the Summit’s morning session will feature keynote presentations looking at the hunger issue in the state, the afternoon session will be a series of panel discussions looking at the four initiatives.

Those include; Pair Data and Resources, Intergenerational Feeding Programs, Conventional Transportation, and Collaboration with Schools.

“While the Summit has done an excellent job of building awareness and bringing together all the different organizations, government agencies and community partners, that deal with hunger, we’re excited about taking those conversations to a level where we can see results and measure those results,” said Tim Armer, Executive Director of the North Central New Mexico Economic Development District.

Gonzales said, “Food Insecurity within our children and seniors rank at the top of our nation’s statistics. Without collaboration, discussion and being results oriented, New Mexico will continue to be ranked at the top as one of the more insecure states. Something we cannot have.”

“As Parke Wilde, an associate professor in the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University stated, “Food alone cannot eliminate the spectrum of food-related worries and shortfalls- and reducing poverty is not really beyond the capacity of the American people, their government, and their economy”, she said.

Once the panel discussions are complete the groups will report out to the main audience the issues that are raised and moving forward with these initiatives within the next 5-years.

The general public is invited to attend the Summit. There is a registration fee of $25 for seniors 60+ and non-seniors $35.00, and$45 for walk-ins the day of the summit.

For more information visit or call 1-866-699-4927. The main sponsors of the event are North Central, the Non-Metro Area Agency on Aging and the New Mexico Aging and Long-Term Services Department.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Thank You, Melody Wattenbarger

Melody’s unique ability to seek change, improvement and innovation positions Roadrunner as one of the leaders in food banking among the network. Melody has been involved with Feeding America for most of her food bank career. She has served on multiple Feeding America committees and is an active and supportive member, as shown through her participation in CEO networking events. Her influence can be seen in many aspects of the national network and the evolution food banks have experienced over the past 40 years. -Diana Aviv, CEO of Feeding America
Hunger's Hope award (2011)
In April of this year, the national organization Feeding America presented this year's Hunger's Hope award to three food bank leaders at its annual conference in San Diego. One of those leaders was Melody Wattenbarger, CEO of Roadrunner Food Bank, who was presented with the 2017 John van Hengel Fellow award. The award recognizes a food bank leader for excellence in leadership, local impact, national influence, and an entrepreneurial spirit in the area of hunger-relief. 

A Keynote Address at the End Hunger Summit
Melody will be delivering one of the keynote addresses at the End Hunger Summit in Albuquerque a week from today (Tuesday, Sept. 26).  She will be speaking at about 9:00 a.m. Below is an excerpt of her biography for the summit.
Melody Wattenbarger, President and CEO of Roadrunner Food Bank, has been involved in food banking at the local, state, and regional lev-els for more than 30 years. She was the founding director of the High Plains Food Bank in Amarillo, TX from 1983-1991. She worked for Feeding America, the national food bank network, for one year monitoring food banks around the country. She then worked for United Way of Central NM until she returned to food banking in her current position in late 1995. While in Texas, she served as the first president of the Texas Association of Second Harvest Food Banks (1986-1990). Ms. Wattenbarger served as founding President of the board for the NM Association of Food Banks from 1999 to 2004. She continues to serve on the board of the NM Association of Food Banks. 
Interacting with local Bread advocates
I have known Melody for the entire time that she has served as Roadrunner Food Bank's chief executive officer. Melody twice interacted with local Bread for the World advocates over the years. Back in the 1990s, she spoke to our group at one of our meetings about the operations of the food bank. A few years later, she was the one who gave us a tour of the Roadrunner facilities.

I have watched the organization grow into a very effective and essential part of the fight against hunger in central and southern New Mexico. Melody has done a remarkable job in the effort to ensure that food is available to countless sites (food pantries, shelters, group homes, soup kitchens, low-income senior housing sites, and regional food banks)in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and many other communities. Deep down, she always had her eye on the ultimate goal, which was for our feeding operations like Roadrunner Food Bank to "go out of business."  That would mean that as a society we have succeeded in ending hunger. 

Isn't that the ultimate goal? Yet, that seems like a distant dream, partly because we have an economic system in which inequality is a given. So, as long as operations like Roadrunner Food Bank exist, they try to do the best job possible not only to distribute food to the pantries and operations that serve communities facing hunger but also to promote education, advocacy and nutrition. For example, under Melody's watch, Roadrunner initiated a food prescription program, and a demonstration kitchen.

Roadrunner Food Bank has also assisted with Feeding America's annual efforts to track hunger in New Mexico, via the annual Map the Meal Gap report. (Feeding America's report looks at food insecurity in every state--and that's how we know where we stand in relation to everyone else).

A Remarkable Legacy
In February of this year, Melody announced that she was stepping down within a year. She and her husband plan to move back to her native Texas.“She’s been an icon in the community and has been serving hungry New Mexicans for the majority of her career. We will miss Melody terribly, but she will be with us for the next year to help us through the transition,",” Roadrunner spokeswoman Sonya Warwick told  The Albuquerque Journal

The Journal, in fact, has frequently written about and quoted Melody over the years. In 2009, at the height of an economic crisis that hammered the U.S., the need for food increased significantly in New Mexico. She spoke about this to the Journal, and we used some excerpts of the article in a blog post. "I'm entering my 23rd year doing this kind of work. I have never received the kinds of calls and inquiries as I am receiving now," she told the newspaper. "For one thing, we're receiving requests for food help via e-mail, which I don't remember until the last few months that ever happening. And the e-mails are coming from places you would recognize — businesses and places that you would know, and the people who are working there need help."

Hosting Rep. Lujan Grisham

Melody and her staff are well aware that Congress plays a special role in the actions needed to end hunger in New Mexico and the rest of the country. To the extend allowed by the federal guidelines for non-profits,  Roadrunner has reached out to our congressional delegation, including Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, to expand their understanding about the needs in our community. In 2016, Rep. Lujan Grisham sponsored legislation to increase direct funding for affiliates of the Feeding America network.

"We were so grateful she took the time to come and visit and learn about how we feed hungry people throughout the state during her visit late last week," Roadrunner Food Bank said on its Facebook page after Rep. Lujan Grisham visited the food bank.

Melody is not only a competent and efficient manager, an advocate and a visionary. She has been in tune with the needs of her clients and also of everyone who works at the food bank. She showed her compassionate side in this piece she wrote for the Roadrunner blog. "We recently hired a gentleman in his 50s to work in our warehouse. You are probably thinking that is something that happens fairly regularly, and you are correct in thinking that. What made this hire so special is that the man we hired had not had regular work or a place of his own to live in for many years. Now that he works for us, he has been able to get his own place, and he is very, very grateful."  Read full post and other pieces she has written for the blog.

Melody Wattenbarger will be missed in this community.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Following Up on Your 2017 Offering of Letters

Letter writers at St. Timothy Lutheran Church
Are you looking for a way to follow up on the Offering of Letters you held in the spring and summer? (More than a dozen congregations in Albuquerque participated in this year's letter-writing campaign, plus local activists held in-district meetings with aides to Rep. Michelle Lujan-Grisham and Sens. Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall).

Bread for the World recommends this action as Congress returns from its summer recess: Call (800-826-3688) or email Rep.Lujan Grisham and Sen. Udall and Sen Heinrich today. Urge Congress to oppose budget cuts to critical programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), refundable tax credits, and school meals.

Our calls are also intended to preserve the recent progress our country has made in fighting hunger and poverty. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Census Bureau just released data indicating that hunger and poverty are on the decline!

"Our work is far from finished. Critical programs that help end hunger — such as the National School Lunch Program; the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); and refundable tax credits — are vital tools for reducing food-insecurity in the U.S.," said Bread for the World "If these programs are cut in the federal budget, the progress we've made could be undone."

The fate of many of these programs will be determined by the next Farm Bill. Many legislators around the country, including Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, held hearing sessions on this important legislation over the congressional summer recess.

Participate in Bread's Webinar
So what does all of this mean for Bread for the World's work to end hunger by 2030? Find out by participating in Bread for the World's Grassroots Webinar and Conference Call, Tuesday, September 19 at 4:00 p.m. EST, 2:00 p.m. MST. Register here  Bread regional organizers will share highlights from in-district visits discuss how we can continue our faithful advocacy throughout the year. You can submit questions ahead of time to Tyion Miller (

Saturday, September 16, 2017

OffCenter Arts Project Invites You to a Full Day of Spontaneous Fun

OFFCenter Community Arts Project invites you to its 15th Annual Folk Art Festival, a full day of spontaneous fun for the whole family!  The event will be held at Robinson Park on Sunday, October 1, 8th St. and Central Ave., 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Create Art
Take part  in the Giant Puppet Parade at Noon or create art any time all day in the Art Making Tent. The knitting and drawing work groups in the park offer another alternative to use your creative energy.

There will be four musical acts, folk dancing, magic, fortune telling, and caricature drawing and puppet play performance. Music Performances by: Joanie & Darin, L@sOstr@s, Wild Humans and Sherri & the Ex-Husbands.

More than 100 local artist vendors will be selling affordable, hand-made creations.When you get hungry, you can buy good eats from  local food truck vendors.

OffCenter is a a safe place for everyone to make art, free of charge. "Our mission is to promote positive self identity and resilience through art making by providing a safe environment for creative social interaction with an emphasis to enhance the lives of those most marginalized in our community," says the organization.

On the day of the festival, you are invited to visit OffCenter's studio, just across the street from Robinson Part,  at 808 Park Ave., SW (Open 10 am - 2 pm on Oct. 1)

Friday, September 15, 2017

A Hunger 101 Workshop for Youth at Congregation Albert

Joy Dinaro, chair of the Education Committee
The Interfaith Hunger Coalition  held its latest Hunger 101workshop at Congregation Albert on Wednesday, September 13. Several dozen people attended the event, primarily young people of middle- and high school age who worship at the synagogue.. There was a smattering of adults in the audience, mostly parents and teachers who support the youth education program at Congregation Albert.

Participants had an opportunity to learn about hunger in New Mexico and about feeding programs like the Rio Grande Food Project.  There was also a chance to converse about hunger in small groups and to engage in advocacy by writing letters to Congress. This was the fourth Hunger 101 workshop since the Interfaith Hunger Coalition was created a few years ago, and each has had its own personality. This one was designed especially for youth, who readily engaged in discussions and listened intently to the presentations.

(Photo: Ellen Buelow)
A Scenario for Discussion
Students deal with so many issues at school, hunger should not be one of them. But sadly, it is. In a recent report, three out of five teachers say students regularly come to school hungry. More than half of teachers say their students rely on school meals as their primary source of nutrition. Sarah, a public school student, shared with her teacher that she does not look forward to school vacations because she knows that it is hard for her parents to afford three meals a day for the whole family especially at the end of the month. 

The importance of Advocacy
Participants learned that an important part of addressing hunger is to engage in advocacy.  There were sample letters at each table, and the youth and adults were asked to take the information and put it in their own words. According to Ellen Buelow, chair of the IHC Advocacy Committee, the youth and adults wrote a total of 32 letters to Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham urging her to protect nutrition programs.

(Photo: Ellen Buelow)
The Rio Grande Food Project
Ari Herring, director of the Rio Grande Food Project (RGFP), told the youth and adults about the  largest food pantry on Albuquerque’s west side. RGFP offers  hungry households a chance to  pick up a week’s worth of food once a month. The pantry distributes frozen as well as fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products, frozen meats, beans and rice, breads and dry and canned goods. The clients  In addition to our monthly food box program,  the food pantry provides weekly groceries to medically-referred clients who are food insecure and have a chronic health condition that is related to hunger. We offer these clients low-sodium and low-sugar canned goods, whole grains, lean proteins and unlimited fresh fruits and vegetables. This Food for Health program addresses chronic health conditions through improved nutrition and household education on eating habits.

Rachel Sternheim, Rabbi Harry Rosenfeld (Photo Ari Herring)
A Faith Response to Hunger
Rabbi Harry Rosenfeld and Cantor Barbara Finn set the tone for the workshop with a prayer.  As part of the prayer, Rabbi Rosenfeld sounded the traditional shofar (ram's horn), which is a call for a Holy assembly and a time to repent and be pro-active not just pray.

Rachel Sternheim, education director at Congregation Albert, gave the introduction to the event and also helped prepare the program, in conjunction with our education and advocacy committees.

Here is an excerpt from a document put together by the the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. The quote reflects the rabbinic perspective on addressing hunger and poverty. The quote was not part of the program, but I thought it was an appropriate way to end the blog post.

God says to Israel, “My Children, whenever you give sustenance to the poor, I impute it to you as though you gave sustenance to Me.” Does God then eat and drink? No, but whenever you give food to the poor, God accounts it to you as if you gave food to God. Midrash Tannaim on Deuteronomy 15:10, citing Numbers 28:2

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Sen. Pete Domenici and Bread for World

Wikimedia Commons
Sen. Pete Domenici passed away on Wednesday, September 13.The senator was a very influential legislator because of his role as chair or minority member of the Senate Budget Committee. While we often differed with Sen. Domenici on funding for domestic and global nutrition and anti-hunger programs, we found that the senator was very approachable and would listen to our concerns. (Because of that, many New Mexicans often referred to him as just "Senator Pete.")
A lot of times we communicated our concerns to him through his very competent and open-minded staff. Elizabeth Turpen was especially good on foreign affairs. There were occasional times when we succeeded in scheduling a meeting with the senator in Washington or Albuquerque to state our case about saving or enhancing programs that help poor and hungry people in our country and overseas.

However, our most memorable encounter with Sen. Domenici was an informal meeting. We were presenting an ask to a junior aide in the inner lobby Sen. Domenici's office in Washington. (The person with whom were originally scheduled to meet had an emergency, so that's why we were meeting with a junior aide).  Sen. Domenici happened to walk by, and he made a point to stop and ask about our request. It turned out to be the Hunger-Free Communities Act of 2007. He did not hesitate to sign on as a co-sponsor.

During an address to Bread advocates in Albuquerque in 1994, Bread for the World president David Beckmann  underscored the importance of Sen. Domenici to our movement.

Sen. Pete Domenici doesn't always vote with us, but he has repeatedly shown up at Bread for the World events. He makes it his business to get to these receptions.  He knows about the Bread for the World presence  in New Mexico. And we're not talking about a lot of people--I' think it's 200 members in New Mexico or something like that.

And there's a little group that meets once a month, so that they remind each other to write letters.  But even though it's just a little group, Sen. Domenici knows you're there, and because of that, he's a real leader on international child survival issues. He's a fan of the WIC program, and he came to WIC's 20th Birthday Party on Capitol Hill.  He knows that Bread for the World in New Mexico is a real presence to deal with.  

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Celebrate the Fall Equinox with Interfaith Evening Vespers

Celebrate the fall equinox with others in a creative prayer ritual led by Sr. Joan Brown, executive director of New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light.  

Prayer will incorporate symbols and reflections from the Jewish, Christian and other traditions. 

Saturday, September 23
6:30-8:00 p.m.
Las Placitas Presbyeterian Church
7 Paseo de San Antonio, Placitas (map)
Light refreshments

RSVP on Facebook

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

'A Lutheran Proposal for Ending World Hunger' Author to Speak in ABQ

Quick question. Where is Wartburg Theological Seminary?
If you said Dubuqe, Iowa, you answered correctly.

Next question. Why am I asking about Wartburg Theolgical Seminary?

If you answered, "That's the academic institution of the keynote speaker for the 2017 Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-New Mexico  Advocacy Conference," then you are correct.  The keynote speaker is Rev. Dr.  Craig Nessan, academic dean, professor and author (more info. below)

Next question, what is the date of the LAM-NM advocacy conference, and where will it be held?
The answer is:
Saturday, October 14
8:30 am - 1:30 pm 
St. Luke Lutheran Church 
9100 Menaul Blvd. NE Albuquerque (map)
Registration is $15 per person, materials and lunch included

Breakout session topics will include advocacy basics, hunger in NM, the state budget, theology of advocacy, and more.

To register: send an email with your name, contact information, and your congregation/organization to Deadline: October 9

Photo: Wartburg Seminary
The Keynote Speaker
Rev. Dr. Craig Nessan, is Academic Dean and Professor of Contextual Theology and Ethics at Wartburg Theological Seminary. Dr. Nessan  is The William D. Streng Professor for the Education and Renewal of the Church

Rather than reprint a biography, I'll mention a  a title of a book he has written that is relevant to those of us who believe that ending hunger and feeding our neighbors is an important pillar of our faith. Give Us This Day: A Lutheran Proposal for Ending World Hunger.

Dr. Nessan has also drafted a resolution on “Ending Hunger as a Core Conviction,” which is available for download and use (click on the appropriate format link) in the following formats:  in Adobe PDF or in MSWord .

Read his full biography, including a list of all the books he has authored and a list of  some of the classes he has taught at Wartburg

Monday, September 11, 2017

Mark Your Calendars

World Food Day 2017

Sunday, October 15
Congregation B’nai Israel
4401 Indian School Rd NE 
2:00 pm

Youth from St. Pius X High School, Salam Academy, Congregation Albert, Congregation B’nai Israel, & Albuquerque Baha’i Community will offer prayers and reflections during this interfaith prayer service.  

(In addition to the participanting schools and congregations, other lead sponsors of the event include the Interfaith Hunger Coalition, New Mexico Interfaith Power & Light, Surgite: A Sacred Dance Company, St. Thomas of Canterbury Episcopal Church)

Stay Tuned for More Details

Sunday, September 10, 2017

A Prayer and a Chance to Help Hurricane Victims

Wikimedia Commons
With Texas still reeling from Hurricane Harvey, and Florida bracing for Hurricane Irma, we pray for those affected by these powerful and dangerous storms—both here and also throughout the Caribbean, where Irma left behind death and destruction. While Haiti and the Dominican Republic were spared a direct hit as the storm passed north of Hispaniola, Catholic Relief Services and our Caritas partners in St. Lucia and Grenada are supporting evacuations ahead of Hurricane José, a Category 4 storm expected to barrel across those same islands. Meanwhile, our teams in Haiti and the Dominican Republic are mounting a relief effort for affected communities, ready to distribute tarps for temporary shelter and other necessities.
We ask for your prayers for our brothers and sisters internationally and here at home, knowing the power of these destructive storms, but also the power and grace of our Creator.

Make Us Shelter, Make Us Strength

A prayer for all those in the path of Hurricane Irma

Photo by  Infrogmation,Wikimedia Commons
Lord of Heaven and Earth, of sea and sky,
We look upon sisters and brothers
In the paths of storms
Beset by rising waters and violent winds.
In such times, we turn to you.
You are our shelter, you are our strength.
You are our comfort and protection.

Make us these things for our brothers and sisters.
Make us shelter, make us strength.
Make us comfort and protection.
We are your children, your image and likeness.
Make us more like you, God of all goodness. And so, let waters recede, to be replaced by a rising tide of compassion,
Let winds dissipate to be replaced by the roar of justice,
That all might know your mercy
And find safety and hope in the midst of storms.
(Download this prayer in PDF)

Donations to CRS’ relief efforts will help provide tarps, hygiene and kitchen kits, and education campaigns to help residents avoid the waterborne and respiratory diseases that often occur in the aftermath of hurricanes.

Other  Places to Donate
United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR)
Lutheran World Relief (Assistance for Haiti)
Church World Service Emergency Cleanup Buckets for Harvey & Irma  Assemble  Drop Off
Charity Navigator (Agencies helping victims of Harvey)
 The American Red Cross is working with dozens of disaster partners to support feeding, child care, disaster assessment and other disaster services. Some of the partners we are coordinating with include Americorps NCCC, Church of the Brethren Children’s Disaster Services, Save the Children, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and Islamic Relief USA.”

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Hunger Coalition to Present a Keynote at End Hunger Summit 2017

The Interfaith Hunger Coalition is honored to have been asked to present a keynote address at the End Hunger Summit on Tuesday, September 26. The event will be held at the Embassy Suites Hotel, near Lomas and I-25. Our keynote address will be a collaborative effort, starting at about 11:00.

Our speakers (in order of appearance) include Ellen Buelow (our Advocacy Committee Chair), Kathy Freeze (Catholic Charities of Central New Mexico), Rachel Sternheim (Congregation Albert), Rabia Sahin Orhan (The Dialogue Institute Southwest), Gabriela Marques (Albuquerque Baha'i Community) and Carlos Navarro (convener). How are we going to fit comments from all these folks in 1 hour? Attend the event to find out. Download Printable Registration Form & Program (the form is on page 4) Register Online  (Register by Sept. 23 to get the lower rate)

Here is the schedule, photos and  biographies of our IHC keynote speakers (as well as Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, State Sen. Michael Padilla and Vanessa Wheeler of Girl Scouts USA).  Other keynote speakers are Melodie Wattenbarger, CEO of Roadrunner Food Bank, Rep. Jim Trujillo and Valerie Trujillo from Bridges Out of Poverty.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Hurricane Harvey's Long Reach

This tragic disaster is a reminder that the whole world is now tied together in a way that cannot be unwound, no matter the rhetoric of politicians the world over. As a citizen of the world, and a Fair Trade business owner, my vision is to help cement those ties in a way that no one "drowns" (physically or metaphorically) when disaster strikes anywhere in the world.
 By Rikki Quintana

Right now, I'm sitting in a hotel room in Anaheim, California, contemplating the global impact of what seems like only a local disaster, even if one of epic proportions for the modern US:Hurricane Harvey, in southeast Texas and Louisiana. The regional economic impact is expected to be in the tens of billions of dollars. But even that can't really be evaluated yet, because Harvey is still dumping rain in its painfully slow travel route, the waters are still rising in much of Southeast Texas and Louisiana, and more rainfall is expected to fall next week.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Entire towns are under water, and it will take days, if not weeks, for the waters to recede. It is now estimated that this storm has produced more local rain over its life than any other storm in recorded US history (over 50 inches in many parts of Houston). Tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of homes will probably be entirely lost, and many homeowners are not covered by insurance, since the flood has extended well beyond the recognized and insurable "flood zones." The loss of life is small so far (11 people), but may grow, and the emotional and economic impact on the individual people of the region will be unfathomable.

So, what does that have to do with a business like HoonArts Fair Trade, based in Albuquerque, New Mexico (many hundreds of miles away and safely dry)? How could it possibly impact artisans living in Central Asia on the other side of the globe?

I am scheduled to be an exhibitor at the Houston International Quilt Festival the first week of November, a short 2 months away. This event was anticipated to be our biggest show of the year, and probably our biggest show ever, since the show normally draws 55,000 to 60,000 people.

Right now, the downtown Convention Center where the Festival is scheduled to be held is atemporary shelter occupied by over 10,000 people who had to evacuate their homes due to life-threatening flooding. There is no estimate of when the Convention Center will be back in operation hosting events. Right now, all highways into the city are closed, and rescue and recovery vehicles will probably be occupying those highways for a long time after they become passable.

We don't know the status of the hotel where I have reserved a room. We don't know how long it will take the local airports to become operational again. Even if the Quilt Festival does go forward, we don't know how many local people will be able to attend, given the new economic reality of the area. Orhow many out-of-towners will brave the unknown, so soon after a disaster of this magnitude.

I have purchased inventory (and ordered more) in anticipation of the Festival. I can't predict today whether I'll be able to sell that inventory, whether or not the Festival goes forward. If I can't sell the inventory, that means my ability to purchase more inventory from our small artisan groups in Central Asia will suffer dramatically. It also means that other plans, like new product design, and possibly hiring a professional designer/pattern maker to help with new designs, will be put on hold. The potential cascade impact on our artisans is obvious.

Other Fair Trade businesses are also affected, no matter where they are located. For example, Albuquerque-based Baskets of Africa receives many of its shipments from Africa through the Houston port. No one knows yet when the port will be fully operational again. And no one is in a position yet to evaluate the cascade of impacts that will have on businesses at either end of the supply chain. Businesses all over the world will be affected.

While the direct impact of Harvey on HoonArts Fair Trade is something I can expect to weather over the coming year, the impact on artisans who already live very close to the margin is exponentially more difficult. This tragic disaster is a reminder that the whole world is now tied together in a way that cannot be unwound, no matter the rhetoric of politicians the world over.

As a citizen of the world, and a Fair Trade business owner, my vision is to help cement those ties in a way that no one "drowns" (physically or metaphorically) when disaster strikes anywhere in the world.We really are one, and we must all do what we can to build ever stronger ties.

 I'll keep you posted on Quilt Festival updates. Maybe by next month, we'll have a better idea about the immediate future.

(The author is owner and CEO of HoonArts Fair Trade and editor of the Beyond Tourism and Fair Trade Caravan blogs)

Monday, September 04, 2017

Labor Day, May Day and the Eight-Hour Workday

In the United States, we celebrate Labor Day on the first Monday of September, marking the unofficial end of summer. Everyone else around the world celebrates Labor Day on May 1, an event that marks the unofficial beginning of spring

On both days, most business comes to a halt to celebrate the work of ordinary people. (There are a few more parades on May 1 than on the first week of September).

The irony is that even though we don't celebrate May Day here as an official holiday, the global commemoration is based on a workers' strike that  occurred right here in the U.S. in May 1886, when some 200,000 U.S. workmen engineered a nationwide strike for an eight-hour day.

Here is more information from an article in Time magazine
"The May 1, 1886, labor action wasn't just any strike—it was part of what became known as the Haymarket affair. On May 1 of that year, Chicago (along with other cities) was the site of a major union demonstration in support of the eight-hour workday. The Chicago protests were meant to be part of several days of action,  Read full piece

So, on this Labor Day, I raise a toast to May Day and the creation of the Eight-Hour Workday.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Tweets about and from Food Banks in Houston, Corpus Christi, Galveston, Beaumont