Skip to content Skip to main navigation Skip to footer

Opportunity for EVANSTON, IL? Local Foods + Participatory Budgeting + U.S. Money Supply

This email is being sent to approx. 150 people. It is also being posted on my website. If anyone wants to follow up on these ideas on behalf of Evanston, feel free to do so. Also feel free to share with others. I myself will not be able to do any follow-up.

People in my Evanston networks who are interested in
— Food & farm justice, local economies, sustainability
— Real democracy & participatory budgeting
— U.S. money supply issues (public sovereign money, parity agriculture, GPI instead of GDP)
People in my Evanston networks who own property and/or food & farm businesses in Michigan
Evanston historians and media folks who like good stories

Hi, all —
Recently the national COMFOOD listserv carried an announcement that the new Director for the Center for Regional Food Systems (Michigan State U.) is Dr. M. Jahi Chappell. Dr. Chappell is well-known in the food & farm world and this is a great decision for Michigan, for MSU, for the Midwest, and for those of us who work on local and regional food systems in the U.S. and the world.

What I didn’t know about Dr. Chappell is that he has:
— Evanston connections
— participatory budgeting connections
— interests in alternative economic systems (money supply issues)
Small world!

You can read the bare bones of these connections in my short (4) Twitter thread (and Dr. Chappell’s reply about his maternal grandparents).  

Or read the details in more narrative form (below my signature).


1. Read Dr. Chappell’s books 
—2018 book: on food security in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, where participatory budgeting started c.35 years ago
—2020 book: on agroecology, deep democracy, alternative economic systems (readable online)

2. Invite Dr. Chappell to Evanston (or Zoom with Evanston) to discuss
— food & farm
— participatory budgeting
— possible relationship with Center for Regional Food Systems
— how can Evanston residents who own property in Michigan be good (a) stewards of Michigan land & (b) advocates for local food economies, both in Michigan and Evanston?
— various forms of monetary reform & alternative economic systems

3. Food & Farm Planning in Evanston
With or without Dr. Chappell, the epic collapse of our social order and natural systems (air, soil, water) makes this a good time for Evanston to commit to daily comprehensive food and farm planning and to act like we’re in the social and climate emergency that we are.

Three recent blogs of mine address these issues: 
Food Security in Evanston, IL: Ideas for 2022, for Illinois, & Beyond
LEAFBLOWERS VS. SOIL: Best Climate Tactics for Evanston, IL & Elsewhere

In addition, after 40-ish years of the rural-urban, food & farm movement, Dr. Chappell may help Evanstonians better understand:

a. General lack of attention to food policy in the U.S., e.g.:
—Why do so few candidates for office have “food” on their platforms (I have been observing this since 2012, starting with my informal Food Vote Survey)
—Why do so many food activists not want to get involved in policy or politics
—Why are there still so few food policy councils (FPCs) in the U.S.

b. Why there’s so little funding for food & farm projects from
— philanthropy
— governmental jurisdictions (local, county, state, U.S.)

c. How the people and communities of the Midwest and Great Lakes will likely play an important stewardship role in feeding ourselves and others over the next few years & decades.

Dr. Chappell starts at MSU in November 2022. If anyone wants to follow up and take the lead on any of these ideas on behalf of Evanstonians, feel free to do so.  I have no personal connection to Dr. Chappell. I just appreciate that his work seems synchronous with my own and with Evanston’s current activities.

Also feel free to share this possible opportunity with other Evanstonians.

See below for the narrative of Dr. Chappell’s connections to Evanston, participatory budgeting, etc.

— Debbie

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to do any personal follow-up on this opportunity. In addition to being 71 and aging, I recently received a notice from my landlord’s lawyer about eviction proceedings, since I am 3.5 months behind on my rent (and behind on my utilities). Although many people have helped me weather the last two years and my landlord has been patient and accommodating, my options for income and for staying in my home seem to be tapped out. By the end of September, I may not have a computer or phone, let alone a home or my bicycle. If I have to move, at the very least my work and networks will be massively interrupted.

As most of you know, more and more people are in similar (and worse) situations due to the artificial austerity caused by a combination of historical cruelty, corruption, manipulation, and confusion in our U.S. institutions. I don’t think, however, that most Evanston voters and officials are fully aware of (a) the fast-growing need, (b) the inability of existing safety networks to handle the need in a timely manner, or (c) the complex of root causes continuing to make things worse—e.g., money supply manipulation. It would be great if folks on this list would take this opportunity to discuss system-wide structural issues with someone — e.g., Dr. Chappell — who might be in a position to promote and implement meaningful system change, not just pilot projects.

— Thanks to all who’ve helped me along the way, including The Ark, Council for Jewish Elderly, and Connections for the Homeless, who are all doing yeoman work but don’t have the capacity to work on the complex policy issues that got us here and keep us here.
— Good luck to all of us getting through the rest of the Great Composting (my term for this era of epic collapse into peace).
— And don’t forget to LEAVE THE LEAVES: Urban Soils, Urban Consciousness. It will speed the peacemaking (not to mention improve the food production).

announced as new director of MSU’s Center for Regional Food Systems

Announcement + bio

a.  Dr. Chappell’s “first book, Beginning to End Hunger: Food and the Environment in Belo Horizonte, Brazil and Beyond, was published in 2018 by the University of California Press. In it, he analyzed world-unique breakthroughs in reducing hunger and supporting small-scale farmers in southeastern Brazil. Beginning to End Hunger’s scholarly contributions were recognized by the Society of Human Ecology with their Gerald L. Young Book Award.” 

As PB advocates will recognize, Belo Horizonte, Brazil was the site of the first participatory budgeting project (c.35 years ago). Their PB process was famous for promoting food security solutions, which Dr. Chappell’s book evidently documents.

Of note is that his book was “recently cited by the United Nations’ High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition as a primary source for their recommendation to add the concept of people’s sociopolitical power, or agency, as an additional pillar of the FAO’s definition of food security.”

In other words, Dr. Chappell’s book seems to recognize the value of PB or democracy or whatever term he uses as an important “pillar” of food security.  (Looking at the book’s index, I see four direct references to PB.)

b. Dr. Chappell’s second book also talks about “bottom up food governance” and “deepening democracy”:

Agroecology Now! Transformations Towards More Just and Sustainable Food Systems, co-authored with Jahi’s colleagues from the Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience at Coventry University, was published in 2020, and is available open-access at” 

“— Develops a framework for understanding and advancing agroecology transformations
— Argues for the importance of bottom up food governance and deepening democracy for agroecology transformations
— Critiques the dominant food regime”

Dr. Chappell’s bio says that his grandparents were farmers in Michigan. It turns out, according to his reply to my Twitter thread, that they lived in Evanston before moving to Michigan. Dr. Chappell says, “I spent many an afternoon visiting my mom’s relatives there [in Evanston].”

I didn’t ask how long ago that was or if he still has relatives here.

3. THE MONEY SUPPLY: Alternative Economic Systems
I have not read either of Dr. Chappell’s books, but the second one has a chapter on “Systems of Economic Exchange” and is clearly a critique of our current exchange system. 

Here are some of the “alternative economic systems” — various changes in our money supply — that I have been writing about over the last 10+ years. It would be interesting to talk with Dr. Chappell about these alternatives, and others that he has studied.

a. Parity agriculture
My resources on parity agriculture are 2/3 down in this webpage: National Food & Farm Resources

Technically, parity agriculture is not an “alternative” economic system because it still is the law of the land in the U.S. It just hasn’t been enforced since the 1950s. Of particular interest to Michigan and farmers in the Midwest is that the movement to enforce parity agriculture law is centered in the Midwest:
— Randy Cook, fruit farmer in Charlotte, MI
President, National Organization for Raw Materials (NORM)
— George & Patti Naylor, Iowa farmers
Clarity on Parity
— Jim Goodman, Wisconsin dairy farmer
Pres., National Family Farm Coalition

b. Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) instead of GDP
My 2022 blog: GPI compared to GDP: A more honest, inclusive, & healthier economic metric
Per my recent Evanston Pop-up Newsletter, our State Rep. Robyn Gabel has said she would consider introducing GPI as an Illinois economic metric. Feel free to follow up with her on this idea, which is both high-impact system change and relatively low cost, at both the national and state levels.

c. Public money supply: Nationalizing the Fed, etc.
AMRA Fact Sheet
The American Monetary Reform Act (AMRA) would nationalize the Federal Reserve System and outlaw fractional reserve lending (money creation by commercial banks).

As I’ve mentioned many times over the past few years, Evanston is now the home of the American Monetary Institute, the 25-year old U.S. leader in reclaiming the public money power for the U.S. Congress. AMI’s action spin-off (now 4 years old), Alliance For Just Money, is based in Bloomington, IL.

Sept. 14, 2022: Free webinar on educating voters, candidates, and officials on the money supply.
Oct. 7-9, 2022: AMI’s annual conference

d. Funded Sovereignty: Universal Basic Income for all U.S. Voters
My 2022 blog: FUNDED SOVEREIGNTY: Universal basic income for participatory democracies