Category Archives: SF Events

Why does Conviviality Matter? Connecting Over Food as a Tool for Self-Care & Community Care

By Alisha Eastep, Slow Food San Francisco Treasurer

In 2013, the Convivialist Manifesto was published.

The document arose out of the need for a new social, moral and political philosophy of living together, since many are convinced that democracy and ecological survival can no longer rely any on the idea of infinite economic growth and inexhaustible resources. The Manifesto defines conviviality as, “an art of living together (con-vivere) that would allow humans to take care of each other and of Nature,” and that in the search for conviviality there is a recognition of conflict “without denying the legitimacy of conflict, yet by using it as a dynamising and creativity-sparking force, a means to ward off violence and killing.”

There are four central questions that should be addressed in creating a convivial table–and world, besides of course, “What to cook?!” The first is a moral question – what can be hoped for and what should be forbidden? The second, a political question – what are legitimate political communities? The third question concerns ecological questions about what we can take and give from nature, while the fourth question is an economic question about how much wealth we can reasonably produce. It is only through a principled balancing of these four considerations does a new model for sustainable living arise. And much of that critical conversation is happening today all over the world across dinner tables.

A meal is a unifying force.

“Through the act of eating, the fellow conspirators were transformed into a “we”, a gathering which in Greek means ecclesia.”

A meal allows people to put aside conflict and connect over a universal need for nourishment, and to enjoy a moment together in a way that delights the senses, and stimulates the mind. If done right, that meal can be sustainable, too.

Toward the end of his long life, polymath and advocate of conviviality Ivan Illich (1926-2002) said, “I remain certain that the quest for truth cannot thrive outside the nourishment of mutual trust flowering into a commitment to friendship.” Forbes magazine wrote that conviviality allows us to be inwardly and outwardly playful. Playing together over the joy of a delicious meal brings us one evening of conviviality, and once step closer to a society that honors our connection to each other and our environment.

Join Slow Food San Francisco for a Convivial Potluck Thursday, August 15 at 7:00 p.m. for an evening of food and discussion to delight the senses.

Designing for Food Security: Leveraging Design to Grow Communities and Feed Cities

By Jessica Karr and Tiffani Patton


What does it mean to design for food security?

We found out a few weeks ago at San Francisco Design Week.

On a sunny, but windy, Thursday evening, a mix of Slow Foodies, designers, and social justice advocates gathered in the Parklab Community Garden to discuss how communities can design for food security through urban farming. The rockstar panel included perspectives from leading Bay Area nonprofits, educators, and vertical farming pioneers.

Urban farms can be sites of abundance and foster deeper connection to land, food, and community. Urban gardening, or farming, has been gaining increasing popularity over the past 10 years as community advocates push for urban gardens and farms as a way to combat food insecurity and foster connection. Urban farms can also be signifiers of displacement through gentrification, when they don’t center inclusivity. Because design plays such a huge role in food insecurity — through practices such as redlining which created areas of food apartheid (see Karen Washington’s article). Slow Food wanted to explore how we can instead design for security.   

The panel was moderated by Wendy Leicht, the creator of We’re grateful to Wendy, our five panelists, and to our wonderful guests who withstood the cold wind to hear the great discussion!

Logan Ashcraft, our private sector panelist, currently leads the energy team at Plenty, an indoor farming company. Plenty aims to build an indoor farm outside every metropolitan area on Earth, increasing access to healthy food, slashing greenhouse gas emissions from the conventional agricultural monoculture model, and decreasing emissions by reducing the distance from farm to fork.

Anesti Vega, the executive board member for Acta Non Verba, strives especially to improve food security by enabling the youth to become future leaders. Acta Non Verba, a nonprofit organization based in East Oakland, elevates life in the inner-city by challenging oppressive dynamics and environments through urban farming. Anesti emphasized the need to understand a situation before intervening to help. He shared a story of Detroit, where a man decided to give free food away because he saw the number of hungry people; what the man didn’t realize was that some African-American farmers had been selling food at very low prices, and his free food was actually undercutting them, thereby worsening the economic condition. It is easy to jump into “Savior” mode and throw a half-baked solution at a problem, but that approach often exacerbates matters.  It is important to take a step back, talk with those who are impacted, and get direction from impacted folks who are likely already doing the work. Anesti recommends only working to intervene once you’ve been immersed in an environment and spoken with the others who are working to solve the problems.

Haleh Zandi, fearless co-founder of Planting Justice, is dedicated to building alliances with diverse communities and practicing strategies that resist the environmental and social violence of the industrial food system. Planting Justice, also based in East Oakland, hires teams of formerly incarcerated landscapers and pays them a living wage while they build edible gardens throughout the East Bay and cultivate urban farms and training centers. Both Haleh and Anesti grounded the panel in historical knowledge U.S. land acquisition and use, with thoughtful reminders that this San Francisco Bay Area was originally Ohlone land that was stolen from them,  and that it is important for us to acknowledge that and speak truth, because forgetting is another form of violence.

Natasha Margot Blum told the story of Hayes Valley Farm, where she co-taught the Permaculture Design Course. Permaculture applies a set of design principles to care for the earth and care for the people. The Hayes Valley Farm was a 2.2-acre interim-use urban farm project collaboration between a core group of designers, farmers and educators, the city of San Francisco, and the community of Hayes Valley. The site, a former urban wasteland, was transformed into a volunteer-ran urban farm that gave away its products. After three years, the farm was cleared for development, but the lesson remains that permaculture and a team of passionate people can turn a small and oft-overlooked plot of land and rubble into a beautiful and productive urban farm that feeds and inspires. Natasha’s path as a design researcher and consultant has been heavily influenced by Permaculture Design as she brings the principles into her everyday work.

Maggie Marks, the executive director of Garden for the Environment (GFE) and a proud new mother, discussed how GFE aims to educate any and all San Franciscans on how to garden. Their beautiful teaching garden is located in the Sunset, and they are actively teaching workshops as well as a full gardening course every summer.

A special thanks to Phat Beets Produce, who brought us jackfruit sliders and jalapeno cornbread, an organization that centers justice in all of its work. They work to create a healthier, more equitable food system in Oakland and beyond through providing affordable access to fresh produce, facilitating youth leadership in health and nutrition education, and connecting small farmers to urban communities via the creation a CSA, community farm stands, markets, and youth entrepreneurship.

We hope that our guests who attended, or just read the blog, were inspired to collaborate and build an inclusive, supportive community that improves food sovereignty, especially in marginalized communities. Please check out Planting Justice, Acta Non Verba, and GFE and join for a volunteer day or a class. Slow Food invites you to check our website for upcoming events.

If you enjoyed the plots at the Parklab Community Garden, please contact Sally Rogers – sally@slowfoodsanfrancisco – we’d love to build our team of gardeners at Slow Food!

Pictured from left to right: Maggie Marks (Garden for the Environment), Natasha Margot Blum (design consultant), Haleh Zandi (Planting Justice), Anesti Vega (Acta Non Verba), Logan Ashcraft (Plenty), and Wendy Leicht (

Slow Fish 2018 thanks you!

Slow Fish San Francisco Reverie

Like fish schooling up, one voice, at last Summer’s Slow Food Nations in Denver, became many: Slow Food San Francisco Board member Kelly Collins Geiser, to me, “Can we have the next Slow Fish gathering in San Francisco?” I had met Kelly and her family at our first Slow Fish event in New Orleans, in 2016. My response: “No need to ask permission, simply declare,”—and that is just what the newly minted and bold Slow Food San Francisco Board did: declared and then hosted the second Slow Fish gathering in North America!

And as the Slow Fish community does, when the “table was set,” (time and place set by Slow Food San Francisco) the call went out far and wide for interested and passionate folks to guide Program planning. Nearly 100 people were on the planning emails and up-to-30 folks would participate in bi-weekly conference calls. We rallied around the desire to grow the Slow Fish community, spark discussion, and create a sharing and learning atmosphere where attendees would leave with commitments to action. Volunteer energy provided the currents for this voyage. We reached out to Slow Food Turtle Island, to make sure the indigenous food cultures were heard loud and clear. We asked Colles Stowell, One Fish Foundation, to present Slow Fish 101, a foundational declaration of Slow Fish Values and Community. One afternoon was dedicated to World Café discussions, swirling around Slow Fish stories. One day was full of storied presentations by community members, 36 in all, using the Pecha Kucha format: 20 slides with 20 seconds per slide, in a TEDx-like style. Short and succinct, to spark more dialogue. And then we contracted Trimtab Media to video-tape the entire event, to help realize our vision of a Slow Fish YouTube Channel.

More than 150 people came from as far away as Italy, Maine, Alaska, Louisiana, Massachusetts and British Columbia, and as near as Washington, Oregon, and the Bay Area. Stay tuned for the “proceedings,” likely to come in the form of videos on the proposed Slow Fish YouTube Channel. And as for the next Slow Fish gathering, folks in New England are making noises about hosting this in 2020.

In the meantime, here are some take-aways:

Slow Fish is:

  • Who: fisher-harvesters, chefs, scientists, teachers, activists, consumers—you
    and me
  • What: organizations, collaborations, partners who are working to support
    local fisheries and the communities that depend upon them.
  • Why: to shorten the link between fisher-harvesters, their communities and
    the customers they serve. To ensure good, clean, fair seafood for all. To
    protect the resource while combatting the privatization of the commons.
  • When: now.

 Slow Fish Values:

  •  Good: wholesome, seasonal, local, abundant and delicious
  •  Clean: preserves biodiversity, sustains the environment, and nourishes a healthy lifestyle for both humans and animals.
  • Fair: honors the dignity of labor from boat to plate, the diversity of cultures and traditions around the world, and strengthens awareness of our ocean as a public commons resource. This food is accessible for everyone to enjoy.
  • Support community fisheries and fish harvesters
  • Educate seafood eaters about getting seafood smart
  • Grow the network

 Slow Fish does:

  • Creates more opportunities for fisher-harvesters: Farmer’s and Fish Markets; Community Supported Fishery markets; new fisheries, especially for under-appreciated seafood; promote the youth movement.
  •  Educating communities: Seafood Throwdowns; hosted dinners; cooking/handling demonstrations.
  • Supporting policies the protect fish and fisher-harvesters

Carlo Petrini’s Message at Slow Food Nations

Slow Food Nations in Denver this week was a formative, inspirational time for the board!


In particular, Carlo Petrini, the founder of Slow Food, gave the closing keynote talk, with many important lessons for people looking to make a difference in food.


He discussed 3 important keys in changing our food system.

  • food must be local and small-scale

It is important that food is tied to the community that consumes and creates it, and that food production is done in awareness of the environment, not to its detriment.

  • Now is the time for sharing

In order to win against the Mosantos and McDonalds of the world, everyone who eats must band together in community around their food. Food activism should be fun, and all involved must get a helping hand when they need it.

  • To meet these challenges, Slow Food must adapt to people’s needs 

Slow Food should be making use of social media and the activities that engage young people, and bring them into the movement. Slow Food needs less structure and more room for creativity to thrive.


So what do you think? Was Carlo on to something? Is the future of the food movement in its community?