Supervisor John Avalos represents San Francisco’s District 11. John was an organizer with the Justice for Janitors Campaign of the Service Employees International Union and won family-supporting wages and affordable health care. In 2008, John was elected to the Board of Supervisors. He passed the nation’s strongest local hiring legislation, providing thousands of living wage jobs for San Francisco residents. In 2013, Supervisor John Avalos played a leading role in passing the nation’s strongest protection for immigrants against unconstitutional ICE holds in our criminal justice system and in 2016 again protected San Francisco’s Sanctuary City status by strengthening and updating the Due Process for All ordinance. He helped develop leadership and build coalitions to advance community-led change in both District 11 and city-wide, believing that policy struggles must include and develop the leadership and participation of the most impacted communities.
Chirag Gunvantbhai Bhakta is the Community Engagement Coordinator for Mission Housing, and was formerly of the Mission SRO Collaborative. Chirag has been organizing since he was at the California State University, Fullerton, where he was involved in the fight for affordable and accessible higher education. He then took organizing to a professional level as the West Coast National Field Associate for the United States Student Association, where he was trained by the Midwest Academy on the Alinsky school of organizing. He is now immersed in the housing and anti-gentrification battle in San Francisco.
Christopher Cook is an award-winning journalist and author of the acclaimed book, Diet for a Dead Planet: Big Business and the Coming Food Crisis. He has written widely on food, agriculture, labor, environmental and social justice issues for the Los Angeles Times, Harper’s, The Economist, Mother Jones, The Christian Science Monitor, The Nation, Salon.com and many others. He is a contributing writer for The Progressive magazine. As a consultant, Chris has helped organizations such as Oxfam America, Friends of the Earth, Food First, and the Food Sovereignty Prize produce reports and publications on climate change, agroecology, food sovereignty and other issues. His website: www.christopherdcook.com.
Pia Desangles is an Organizer with the Farmworker Association of Florida’s Agroecology Project. She helps manage a Campesinos’ Garden in Pierson, FL which provides farmworker and other rural, low-income families the opportunity to practice agroecology and food sovereignty by growing their own fruits, vegetables, and culinary & medicinal herbs without chemicals, exchanging traditional growing knowledge and trying new organic techniques, and saving seeds and providing seedlings to fellow community members. She also co-leads the effort to establish a new Campesinos’ Garden site in Apopka. Through her role, Pia facilitates and supports campesino-a-campesino knowledge exchange opportunities and collective decision-making. Pia is part of the team that coordinates with other organizations, communities, and movements struggling for food sovereignty throughout the US and internationally.
Chema Hernández Gil is the political coordinator at SF Rising, where he helps build the political power of working-class communities of color in San Francisco. Chema was raised vegetarian and experienced his family’s shift to eating more dairy and processed foods when they left Mexico in the late 1980s. Over the years, he also saw how people’s diets in Mexico changed in similar, negative ways. Along the way, he acquired an understanding of how native North American food systems were colonized. He is passionate about building vegan agroecological food systems within the context of decolonization. Chema is on the local Community Leadership Board for the American Diabetes Association.
Wayne Hsiung is co-founder of Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) and lead investigator in the DxE Open Rescue Network. His work as an investigator has been reported on in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, and he organizes grassroots campaigns that have mobilized activists in over 140 cities and 30 countries. Prior to co-founding DxE, he taught at Northwestern School of Law and practiced securities law while maintaining a pro bono practice representing victims of domestic violence. Wayne has organized for social justice campaigns since 1999, including campaigns against capital punishment and for housing justice.
Matthew Loisel is a Salinas-based veganic farmer. After becoming disillusioned with both corporate life and our corporate food system, he decided to help create a better food system by making the transition from hobbyist gardener to commercial farmer. He founded Lazy Millennial Farms with his wife after they completed training at an organic farm incubator. Matt became vegan after completing his training and he suddenly realized that he had to learn to farm within a new set of parameters. He has been successfully doing so, and in 2016, Lazy Millennial Farms launched the Bay Area’s first veganic CSA.
Supervisor Eric Mar is a champion of health equity. Besides challenging fast food and big soda corporations, he wrote laws and organized health equity coalitions to cut cigarette licenses by 50% over the next ten years and severely limit the expansion of e-cigarettes. Eric has also promoted healthy eating and access to fresh food by establishing the City’s healthy retail program, spearheading the City’s large investment in food security programs, and commitment to ending hunger in San Francisco by 2020. For over two decades, Eric has been a dedicated and responsive advocate for working families, youth and seniors, small businesses and all the diverse residents of the Richmond District and San Francisco.
Shanta Nimbark Sacharoff migrated from a small village in India to New York, eventually settling in San Francisco, where she felt at home with the foodcentric and co-op-friendly atmosphere. Shanta has been involved in the cooperative movement for more than three decades and works at Other Avenues, a worker-owned food co-op. Shanta contributes regularly to India Currents and to various newsletters of the Bay Area’s co-op organizations. She is the author of the new book Other Avenues Are Possible: The Legacy of the Peoples Food System of the San Francisco Bay Area.
Nassim Nobari is the co-founder and executive director of Seed the Commons. As a social justice and food sovereignty activist, she has worked with radical community programs in Switzerland and the US and volunteered with Via Campesina in a dozen countries. With Seed the Commons and the People’s Harvest Forum, she strives to continue to help build a food system that works for farmers, workers and eaters, while promoting animal liberation instead of food cultures and agricultural models that are based on animal exploitation.
Neil Thapar is the lead for the Farmland Program of the Sustainable Economies Law Center, where he researches alternative legal structures and land-holding arrangements that promote affordability and long-term sustainable stewardship of farmland. Neil also leads the Save Seed Sharing campaign of the SELC to protect people’s rights to share seeds with each other through community organizing, legislative advocacy, and public education on the importance of growing and supporting locally-focused seed distribution networks. In 2014, Neil led SELC’s legislative campaign to pass the Neighborhood Food Act, expanding access to backyard food production for tenants and homeowners in planned developments.
Ryan Thayer is a Community Organizer for Food Justice with Tenderloin Neighborhood Development (TNDC), Co-Coordinator of the Tenderloin Healthy Corner Store Coalition (TLHCSC), and a member of the San Francisco Food Security Taskforce. He sees access to healthy, fresh, nutritious, and affordable food as a fundamental right for individuals and families with limited access to resources. Spearheading organizing efforts around food access, education, and healthy corner stores, Ryan seeks to improve San Francisco’s local food system through the empowerment of our most at need communities.
AshEL SeaSunZ aka The Uber Rapper is the CEO of Earth Amplified Consulting, offering Creative Strategy for various conscious entrepreneurs, startups, and non-profits. He is an adjunct professor of Climate Justice, Race, and Activism at SF State University, founder and performer with roots, rap, and reggae collective, Earth Amplified, and a vocalist with West African/West Oakland band Dogon Lights. He is a shamanic & plant based health coach and also teaches meditation, creativity, and manifestation principles for activist, creatives, and entrepreneurs.
Mona Seymour is an Associate Professor of Urban Studies and the Director of the Environmental Studies Program at Loyola Marymount University. Her work broadly focuses on animals and the food movement and on diverse economies in the context of the food system. She is currently working on a project on veganic agriculture in North America. Her research has also explored sustainability planning and green infrastructure, with particular attention to alleyway revitalization and greenspace planning.
Nicole Vosper is an anarchist organizer and agroecologist whose main interest is exploring how to dismantle and replace industrial and animal agriculture with systems that are life-sustaining and liberatory. She learned to grow food in prison during a 3.5 year sentence for participation in the historic campaign Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty. She teaches vegan permaculture courses and started a workers cooperative called Feed Avalon, which works towards local food resilience of her area – Street and Glastonbury, in Somerset, south west of the UK. She will be joining us by videoconference from the UK. Her website: http://www.emptycagesdesign.org/
Jean Yaste is VP at San Francisco Community Land Trust. She has helped defend and secure affordable housing and public art spaces such as Adobe Books (SF), Precita Eyes Mural Arts (SF), Gill Tract Farm (Berkeley) and several residential homes throughout San Francisco. She also composes and performs music as Future Twin.
Urban Campesinos. We are delighted that this year’s field trip will be to the Urban Campesinos farm in the San Francisco Excelsior district! Urban Campesinos is a food justice and young adult leadership program aimed at bettering the environmental, economic and health conditions experienced by working families in Southeast neighborhoods of San Francisco. Through urban agriculture practices, they tap into the wealth of traditions and experiences of immigrant families and provide apprenticeship and employment opportunities for young people.