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Reflections From Venice

Apr. 11, 2018

Reflections From Venice

As both a student of and veteran participant in social movements, here are my reflections of how I see our organization evolving for the better.

By Richard McCarthy, Slow Food USA Executive Director
March 2018

I spent the fifth anniversary of my tenure at Slow Food USA with an extraordinary team of food leaders from Brazil to Uganda, Bra to Berlin. The International Executive Committee is the governing body for Slow Food International. Myself a member, we meet and eat quarterly. This past meeting was held in the appropriately existential location of Venice, Italy. During these intimate meetings, I have observed (and hopefully contributed to) significant changes in how Slow Food sees itself, and how it communicates internally and externally.

I think back to my first meeting in Pollenzo (at the University, UNISG): Founder and President Carlo Petrini opened the meeting with righteous remarks insisting that we be liquid not static. He provoked us with ideas about austere anarchy and how we should learn to thrust our brand and ideas out into the public like seeds we scatter (and not to hold tightly onto our rules, regulations and our fiefdoms). I remember thinking, “Wow, so much for me to learn about this new culture!” At the beginning, I was struck by the formality of the proceedings: support staff joining in the gallery (as if pupils). What a difference five-years makes.

Today, meetings are still conducted with a degree of formality but mostly with the vibrant exchange of ideas between peers. Staff, network representatives, auditors, and President all contribute. This shift gives me hope, something I value in these times in which unfolding global events give us reason not be especially hopeful. While we live and breathe on the ground (and not in ivory towers despite the fact we actually do run a university), it is often difficult to interpret forward motion whilst we’re (slowly) moving.

Pictured Above: Carlo Petrini (Founder of Slow Food) with Slow Food International Executive Committee members

Read Other Posts In This Series

Part 2: Populism And Its Discontents

Part 3: Does Italy Matter? Does Europe Matter?

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