Who Decides?

 A special exhibition curated by the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) at the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund asks the question, Who Decides?  The exhibit features some of CUP's projects from the past decade and the questions they explore about access, opportunity, infrastructure, and the politics of place around food. Here are some examples of questions explored by the student projects featured in the exhibit:

Who decides?
In the Bronx, bodegas are a way of life. You can get everything from snacks to supper. But who chooses what they sell? Why is their stuff so cheap? And where do all those chips come from?

Who decides?   
Who decides where supermarkets go? Are there enough supermarkets in the Bronx? Why does it matter?

Who decides?
Although the Hunts Point Produce Market in the Bronx offers one of the largest selections of fresh fruits and vegetables in the world, some Bronx residents feel there aren’t enough places to get fresh produce in their neighborhoods. Where does the fresh produce come from? Where does it go? Who decides what communities have access to fresh produce?
 

These are questions that came out of a ten year period, but these questions are still being asked today. The exhibit implicitly raises questions about the role of low-income communities and communities of color in the who decides process. The projects, which were developed by students, raise questions that continue to persist and hold relevance years later as to who decides. Who makes decisions for the poor? This may seem like a straightforward question, but it is not often discussed amongst policy makers and city planners. When it is discussed, it frequently comes across as “gathering community input” on a certain topic or policy. This community input may be taken into consideration, but is not mandatory in the decision-making process. What it boils down to is the people making decisions for the poor aren’t the poor and thus have different experiences. For low-income communities and people of color, the question of who decides remains an ongoing battle as communities fight for their voice.  


The Peas and Justice Collaborative, which is a group of food system leaders that work across NYC and New York State to elevate racial equity and food access issues, raised many of these questions regarding who decides as decisions were made around the development of the New York State Food Hub Task Force. While the task force was gathering input from community members through a series of phone calls and interviews, the Collaborative was concerned the process was extractive rather than inclusive. The extent to which the community input would be relayed back to the task force and implemented into planning was cause for concern.  The Collaborative wrote a letter to the task force with the expectation that the state government would be inclusive and reflective of community concerns. The letter is an example of how communities can speak out and voice their concerns.

Regardless of race or socioeconomic status, the question of who decides should leave us all asking these questions:

  1. Who is included or excluded in the decision-making process?  
  2. Where is power centered in the decision-making process?
  3. Is it enough for low-income community and communities of color to be included in the decision-making process simply as an advisory role?
  4. Who in the decision-making process has the right to speak for whom?
  5. At what point in the process are communities involved and engaged in decision-making?
  6. When communities are engaged, are adequate accommodations made for people of all socioeconomic backgrounds to participate in the decision-making process?
  7. How are communities engaged in the decision-making process?  

These questions are meant to start a dialog around these persistent issues. Corbin Hill Food  Project has created a forum for community members to post their thoughts or ask questions to the rest of the group around who decides. Use the questions above to guide a discussion around these issues.  CLICK HERE for the link to the group forum.

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Broccoli sometimes gets a bad rap as being the boring vegetable your parents forced you to eat. Forget that. When cooked properly, broccoli can be the star of your next family dinner! Ditch the traditional method of steaming this neglected veggie and try oven roasting to unlock the crispy, caramelly sweetness hiding below its surface. Try out the following recipe! 

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Ingredients

 1 bunch broccoli (about 1 ½ pounds), cut into florets, stems peeled and sliced or diced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Recipe adapted from Food Network  
Cook time: 35 minutes

 

Directions 
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
2. Toss the broccoli florets with the olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper on a baking sheet. Spread them out and then roast, without stirring, until edges are crispy and the stems are crisp tender, about 20 minutes. 
3. Serve warm.