Lappé will speak tonight at 7 p.m. at the Sheridan Opera House as part of the Beaming Bioneers Conference. Her talk is entitled Media Might, a Talk on Mental Maps, Social Change, and Honest Hope.
Lappé co-founded the Small Planet Institute (www.smallplanetinstitute.org) with her mother "to bring to light the emergence of 'living democracy'" with the goal of creating "communities that work for all." Her first book, co-written with her mother, Hope's Edge: The Next Diet for a Small Planet (Tarcher/Penguin 2002), took the mother/daughter duo around the globe in search of such communities. Hope's Edge chronicles social movements that are transcending today's rampant consumerism through grassroots efforts. The book highlights social movements that are significantly impacting their communities by committing to local change.
One such person was Wangari Maathai, founder of Kenya's Green Belt Movement and this year's winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Maathai launched the movement in 1997 to address the desertification of Kenya's lush landscape. As more and more land was cleared for agriculture or fuel, the desert began to encroach, turning once fertile areas to sand. Maathai's Movement addressed this crisis by educating village women in the simple act of tree-planting. Over the past 25 years, the Movement has planted more than 30 million of them. The Green Belt movement soon evolved into an organization fighting for democracy and promoting food security in Kenya.
"We met Wangari Maathai in 2000," said Lappé in an interview on Monday, "when the Green Belt Movement was struggling for resources just to provide a roof over their offices and they were living under a dictator. It is wonderful to see how far they've come in such a short time." Along with the prize comes an award of $1.3 million dollars. "We're on cloud nine right now for them," said Lappé.
Hope's Edge also includes recipes from vegetarian, organic and whole-food culinary pioneers like Mollie Katzen, Anna Thomas and Alice Waters. Hope's Edge was honored with the Nautilus Award for Social Change and Lappé received the first Bioneers Youth Award in 2002 as a leading social activist from the Collective Heritage Institute for her work on the book.
Lappé has also been a contributing author to a number of books including Take Back Your Time (Berrett-Koehler 2003), the forthcoming rewrite of Frances Lappé's The Quickening of America (Jossey-Bass 2005) and Feeding the Future: How the Battle Over Food Will Change Your Life (Realize Media 2004).
Her latest project is Grub: Ideas for an Urban, Organic Kitchen (Tarcher/Penguin 2006), a cookbook/industrial farming exposé co-authored with chef Bryant Terry, founder of a non-profit group that teaches high school students about healthy eating and food politics.
"Our idea was to create a book we wanted to see," said Lappé, "a book that would give people a way to make sense of organic and sustainable food. So much of what we learn about food comes to us through advertising and information from industry-funded trade associations. There is a lot of misinformation out there about organic food."
Grub will include seven myths about organic food and tips for creating a brand-free whole foods kitchen. "The book will give people a whole bunch of resources all in one place for making simple, fresh whole foods meals," said Lappé.
Lappé and Terry are hosting GrubParties around the country to promote the book and its purpose. On their website www.eatgrub.org, grub is defined as "healthy, local, sustainable food for all" and "food that supports community, justice and sustainability." GrubParties serve "healthful meals made from sustainably grown, and as much as possible, organic and locally grown foods."
"The parties are a way for people to make the connection between the cultural and spiritual aspects of food," said Lappé. "That's a connection many of us have lost in the hectic pace of our lives."
The website gives tips for hosting one's own GrubParty, such as inviting a mix of people to provoke stimulating conversation. It includes play lists of music for the parties.
Lappé writes regularly for the Guerilla News Network and has also written for The Washington Post and the San Francisco Chronicle. She sits on the boards of Active Element, B-Healthy! and Dragonfly Media and is an advisor to several non-profit organizations including Media that Matters, GreenTreks Network and the Brown University Swearer Center for Public Service.
Lappé holds an M.A. in International Affairs, specializing in economic and political development, from Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs and a B.A. with honors from Brown University. She has traveled to over 70 cities sharing her global perspective of food politics and the media, including lecturing at New York University and the University of Connecticut.
Lappé will speak tonight, Friday Oct. 15, at the Sheridan Opera House as part of the Beaming Bioneers Conference. Her talk is entitled Media Might, a Talk on Mental Maps, Social Change, and Honest Hope.
"When I think about what the biggest challenges we face in civilization today, I think about how we can stop the environmental destruction we're wreaking," said Lappé. "I feel like in order to answer the question of how people on our planet are nourished by food, we have to talk about our ideas of our relationship to food and farming. Real change comes from examining these ideas and how they are shaped everyday in the media. The media shapes our perceptions of what is possible so we need to figure out a way to bring the 'solution stories' to the forefront."
Tickets for tonight's lecture are $15 or $40 for the entire weekend of Bioneers Conference programming.