Where in the World is Brother Dave?
Dave Andrews – or as we affectionately call him: Brother Dave – is the Senior Representative for Food & Water Watch with over 30 years of work on sustainable development, food and water issues, and national/international public policy. To say that Dave travels frequently doesn’t do him justice. He’s all over the place, and a lot of people in the NGO community seem to know Dave from his work over the past 40 years. People in our office are always asking, “Where is Dave headed now?” In order to keep track of Dave’s travels and the great work he’s doing, we’ve decided to devote an entire blog category to him. Welcome to the premiere post of Where in the World is Brother Dave?
Hello everyone! I am currently in Detroit, Michigan at the United States Social Forum (USSF). There are 30,000 or so people here from around the globe. We all represent organizations who advocate for many causes – from food sovereignty to fighting the privatization of our natural resources, and from civil rights to environmental justice.
Today is the third day of the conference, and I’m here with my colleagues from Food & Water Watch: Darcey O’Callaghan, Meredith Begin, Marcella Oliveira, Alex Beauchamp. We walked together in downtown Detroit to our conference site through a remarkable crowd of people chanting as we walked: “No justice, no peace”; “The people united will never be defeated.” We sang civil rights hymns, held our Food and Water Watch banner aloft, and felt energized by the progressive environment and the causes we represented.
We marched into the conference center to the sound of drumming and Native Americans offering a ritual dance of welcome. We were ready to begin the Social Forum. Our display table had a surprising number of visitors, which gave us an early opportunity to talk about our issues. We managed to get many signatures for our petition, asking the Department of Justice to break up the food monopolies.
On Wednesday morning we began our Food & Water Watch workshop on concentration in the food system called, “Monsanto, Nestle and Cargill…Oh My! Organizing Against the Corporate Control of Our Public Resources.” The workshop was very interactive with a great audience of activists, so we had no problem feeling that our efforts were well worth the time. Attendance was strong. In fact, the room filled up quickly and we ran out of seats.
I did two additional workshops on Wednesday with our partners from the National Family Farm Coalition. The workshops dealt with credit issues, the USDA and anti-trust activities, and the farm bill. Again, these workshops were well attended.
The tabling we did in the display hall was exciting, as we had a steady stream of visitors who asked good questions, signed our post cards to the USDA and promised to keep in touch. Many wanted to know what we were doing in the Gulf. We talked about our efforts to stop BP from other drilling operations. We displayed a large poster, challenging the factory farming support of our government to ocean based factory fish farms. Most of our visitors seemed to appreciate Food & Water Watch’s efforts and didn’t leave without taking some of our materials with them.
Speculation in commodities is another issue that we at Food & Water Watch have written about in “The Casino of Hunger.” Maryknoll’s Dave Kane and I hosted a very interactive workshop about speculation for a group of about 25 people. Each attendee brought expertise to the group, and our published materials were well received.
For now, I’m going to head back out to the conference site, but I hope to keep you posted on this blog about my future travels. Best wishes!