This blog documents my personal experiences, brainstorms and ideas throughout my three years as an “Early Stage Research Fellow” (ESR) with the RECOMS training program. RECOMS (Resourceful and Resilient Communities) is a Marie Sklodowska Curie (MSCA) Innovative Training Network funded by the European Commission. The RECOMS network is made up of fifteen ESRs working throughout Europe and focuses on the development of solutions to the socio-ecological challenges presented to both urban and rural communities in the twenty-first century. My particular focus is on “Citizenship and Responsive Governance”. I have chosen to analyze this topic through the lens of citizen-led food initiatives.
At the heart of the RECOMS training program is the mission to develop transformative solutions for complex social and ecological problems that will improve the health and well-being of vulnerable communities. Although living in advanced urban environments can make us forget, society is inherently dependent on ecological systems for life. There is nowhere that this is more evident than in farming. Farming is the literal joining of the socio-ecological fabric, where the threads of labor and technology are woven into natural systems to produce food and sustain human life and society. Food is a fundamental part of the essence of culture and place – we truly are what we eat. Therefore, when finding solutions to social and ecological problems, food must be a central point of concern.
In addition to providing the basis for life, food has also become a gateway for catalyzing alternative political debates about social and natural relations. Throughout the next years with RECOMS, I will be further exploring these debates while looking to answer questions such as: What are the social and natural relations which produce our food? How are they being (re)politicized by ‘everyday’ citizens? And, what implications do new forms of politicization have on the pursuit of sustainable futures?
My research will explore four main focuses:
The influence of food policy discourse on (urban) politics
The emergence of new nested food markets and networks
The entrance of political gardening into public urban space and planning
The potentials for translocal convergence between spatially fragmented citizen food initiatives