For those who’ve been following, NWEI just came off of its bi-annual North American Gathering in Port Townsend, WA, where for 3 and half days over 90 of us convened to share ideas and plan new actions around creating healthier communities and more sustainable food systems. Thanks again to our guest blogger Shelley Randall for covering the conference! A highlight was Will Allen’s keynote address, open to the public, where some 500 people were in attendance. Below is an excerpt from media coverage of Will’s day with conference attendees, Port Townsend community members, farmers and youth. For the complete article from the Port Townsend Leader, please click here.

“There is no perfect moment. You just do it and you learn from it.”

This statement held depth beneath its surface. It was a precursor to one of Will Allen’s resonating and inspiring beliefs: Take action, implement your ideas and empower yourself.

Allen’s words echoed in the ears of the receptive audience on Saturday night at Fort Worden State Park. More than 500 people gathered to be inspired by Allen’s keynote presentation at the Northwest Earth Institute’s (NWEI) annual conference…

Someone asked Allen, “If you could accomplish one ultimate goal in your lifetime, what would that be?” His response was, “I would say it’s a pretty lofty goal, but it would be to make sure that everybody in the world has access to the same kind of culturally appropriate healthy food. I think that’s what we should be working for.”

Allen spoke about what he calls food deserts – inner cities where people have no access to quality fresh foods, places where the only “food” is available at corner stores and gas stations.

Allen told us that “on March 8 of this year, the United Nations finally said that the only way to end world hunger is to develop local sustainable food systems, whether it’s in Africa or in communities like this, or in other communities around our country.

“But to do this, we can’t continue to just talk about it, we have to go into action. We have to be innovative, and everybody needs to be at what I call the ‘good food revolution table.’”…

Before Allen’s keynote presentation, the Food Co-op, Jefferson County Farmers Markets and NWEI made it possible for him to spend a few hours at the community center, along with other students, young farmers, and food activists like Judy Alexander, Candice Cosler, and Tinker Cavallaro.

He emphasized that no single group of people can accomplish their goals, that diversity is necessary. “We need to work together. We need to bring people from corporate America, politicos, medical people, architects, universities, many top-down operators. We need to bring them to the table to work together to form partnerships that really work.” His advice parallels another value at the core of our program: that the most powerful and effective team consists of people with different backgrounds and skills, each pulling their own weight and bringing their own strengths.

Allen said, “If you’re passionate enough to stay in the game, you can become successful.” We are encouraged.