Food Leaders Perspectives
Steve Gliessman, Chair of Agroecology at University of California at Santa Cruz
Steve Gliessman earned his doctorate in plant ecology at UC Santa Barbara and was the founding director of the UCSC Agroecology Program at UC Santa Cruz, where he teaches natural history, ecology, and agroecology. He occupies the Heller Endowed Chair of Agroecology at UCSC and has been a Kellogg Fellow and a Fulbright Scholar.
Mr. Gliessman has published extensively on traditional agriculture in Mexico, agroecology, and sustainable agriculture. He also dry farms organic wine grapes and olives with his wife on his family ranch in Central California.
Mr. Gliessman is currently a co-chair of the Roots of Change Council.
What are your greatest hopes for the Vivid Picture Project?
My greatest hope for the project exists in the name itself. It is my hope that we really will be able to paint a picture of what a sustainable food system for the state would look like. This picture will then serve as a guide to our next steps, the steps necessary to create real change.
Why do you think that it is important that the project is happening now?
We are at an important transition point in agriculture, in California and beyond. The conventional approach to agriculture has reached its limits, its weak points are highly apparent. Right now there is interest and concern about the limits of conventional agriculture on many levels - coming from farmers in the field to consumers in the home. People want to see these concerns addressed, and this project provides a way to do this.
The Vivid Picture project can open a new door - it can create a new opportunity for systematic, integrated change. The project provides a structure for all the different players in the food system to work together in a whole systems approach to create change.
What do you think that the role of the ROC Council is in the Vivid Picture project?
The ROC council represents a broad cross section of all the sectors of the state's food system. Each of the council members brings a wealth of experience from some specific aspect of the food system. The Vivid Picture provides us with the opportunity to bring all of those different experiences together and guide the change process forward.
Together, our different experiences create a synergy which none of us could achieve alone.
Who do you see as the change makers? Who will implement the Vivid Picture?
Change will come from the broad community of people connected to the state's food system. It is not one person. It is everyone from the farmers to the eaters.
The very work of building the Vivid Picture is bringing people together from all the aspects of the food system. The who, in who will be the change makers, itself will be a response to the final Vivid Picture.
The project is a call to action and we are very excited to see who responds and how we can work with them to create change.
How does the Vivid Picture project relate to your overall life's work?
I have been one of the folks pushing the agroecology aspect of this work - as an educator, researcher and farmer - for many years. This project is a very exciting way of seeing the things I have been working on for many years take the next big step forward.
Everyone working in sustainable agriculture has been looking for new ways to move forward and create solid, lasting change. This project is going to provide the opportunity to do just that.
Reported by Ali Edwards, Straus Communications